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Ys VI Vocal Version The Songs of Zemeth :: Review by Charles

Ys VI Vocal Version The Songs of Zemeth Album Title: Ys VI Vocal Version The Songs of Zemeth
Record Label: Nihon Falcom
Catalog No.: NW10102640
Release Date: March 17, 2005
Purchase: Buy at VGM World


Ys VI Vocal Version The Songs of Zemeth is a vocal arranged album dedicated to Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim. While Falcom's vocal arrangements have been a mixed bag in the past, fortunately this album takes things in an all-new direction. On this release, talented vocalists and actual instrumentalists interpret modern and stimulating arrangements written in rock, acid jazz, R'n'B, and new age styles. The limited edition version also featured two bonus discs.


The most enjoyable adaptations on the disc are the rock tracks by Jill's Project. The adaptation of "Release of the Far West Ocean" has all the components of a great opening theme: feel good melodies, thrashing instrumentals, and a charismatic male vocalist. Heck, there are even a few stimulating interludes and progressive rock solos. It's a bizarre combination of glam rock stylings, modern instruments, and a Japanese vocalist... yet I love it. "Mighty Obstacle" is even better at the centre of the album. It's very theatrical, featuring everything from falsetto to growling vocals, gothic organ work to extravagant guitar solos. In fact, it's very reminiscent of the material the Sex Machineguns produce and that's certainly no bad thing. It also fits the original material scarily well despite being so different.

Many of the female vocal performances are also very creative, but not necessarily appealing. "Desire" is quite refreshing for the way it blends jazz instrumentals with a sassy performance by Hiroko Yamawaki. In fact, the result offers a fascinating J-twist on the acid jazz style. The vocalist also gives her own twist on flamenco formats in "Pandora" and, again, it's full of class and sexiness. "Lapis Lazuli" is a select taste since it features 'whispering' female vocals by Ayako Shibazaki. I don't personally enjoy it, in part due to the awful pronunciation, but at least the R'n'B instrumentals are effective. "Fight Your Way" is a little more ordinary but, despite a rich backing track, falls down for its lacklustre performance and bland melody. Those who enjoy Persona 3 music will probably love this, though.

The last three songs on the album are all highlights. "A Smile's Whereabouts" is reminiscent of the bouncy and youthful performances from Falcom's ancient vocal collections. Not all will enjoy the style, but I personally found it surprisingly charming in this instance. "Cumulus" is probably the best soft selection on the album. u-mi fills the melodies, based on "Olha", with a sense of heartbreak while subtle orchestrations and Celtic instrumentals enhance the atmosphere. The album concludes with a second interpretation of "Lapis Lazuli", this time with 'normal' vocals and smoother jazz instrumentals. Like so much of the album, it is a little eccentric and a little poppy, yet sounds so modern and sassy too. It's a truly refreshing way to end the album, especially since I was expecting a sappy ballad instead.

Those who purchased the limited edition version of the Songs of Zemeth received two bonuses. One was a bonus DVD featuring bonuses such as trailers for upcoming Falcom games. Another was a second CD featuring instrumental renditions of the arrangements. Unlike The Legend of Heroes VI Sora no Kiseki FC & SC Super Arrange Version, these instrumental versions are simply karaoke tracks and solo instrumentalists do not replace the vocalists. As with most karaoke versions, the resultant disc sounds rather empty since the vocalists are so dominant in most arrangements. The backing tracks are generally well done, but not intended for stand-alone listening, while the extravagant instrumental sections are too few to demand stand-alone listening.


The dark ages for Falcom's vocal themes is final over. The Songs of Zemeth is a very surprising release since it sounds so modern and creative after all those youthful rock anthems and tedious ballads of the past. I highly recommend it for those looking for vocal music that is a little different from the norm. The standard edition should be the one to go for, since the instrumental disc isn't really worth listening to and the bonus DVD is a little out of date now.

Overall Score: 8/10