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After Burner Climax Soundtrack :: Review by Chris

After Burner Climax Soundtrack Album Title: After Burner Climax Soundtrack
Record Label: Wavemaster
Catalog No.: WM-0536
Release Date: October 9, 2006
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan


After Burner Climax attempted to rejuvenate Sega's long-running series of aerial combat games to mixed reception. However, it's soundtrack was relatively successful in taking the series to modern times while maintaining the characteristic rock influence of the series and complementing the scene of the game. The resulting soundtrack release not only compiles the music for the game, but also surprisingly serves as a definitive source for After Burner II music. Time for a closer look...


The title theme for After Burner Climax is a dynamic rock composition from Fumio Ito. In series' tradition, he builds the composition around gritty rhythm guitar riffs, though the riffs are more stylised and resonant than before. The rest of the composition is dominated by Tomoya Koga's extravagant lead electric guitar work, culminating in an extended solo, while the especially rapid drum beats maintain an aggressive sound. While not particularly catchy, it makes up for it with its technical mastery and emotional moments. A short variation is also used for the opening theme. Ito maintains the dense soundscapes with "Vertical Hot Air", where the drum kit is used to offer compelling breakbeats. Meanwhile "Sleepless Sanctuary" works spectacularly in its abstract context with its blend of rock, electronic, and orchestral elements; in fact, this especially ambitious piece wouldn't sound out-of-place in Ace Combat 04 despite the slightly harder rock emphasis. It all feels like a decisive and modern new direction for the series.

The other composers bring a slightly different musicality to the soundtrack. Keisuke Tsukahara demonstrates his strength as an electronic musician with "The Lure of the Sky", using the overdriven guitar riffs more as a secondary feature to the techno beats. However, he was also prepared to offer a straight rock 'n roll piece with the especially catchy "Great River Valley" or some more dissonant rock in "Clear For Take Off". Masanori Takeuchi also makes an impact with his fusions, using techno beats and rhythm guitar riffs in an essentially complementary way in the especially striking "Volcanic Islands" and "A Bolt from the Blue". "Clouds of Twilight" meanwhile fuses the anthemic, rock, techno, and breakbeat influences of the soundtrack into one encompassing blend to mesmerising effect in and out of context. Hiroshi Kawaguchi's only contributions are beat-heavy remixes of the series' main theme, including an extended version at the end of the soundtrack.

The six themes from After Burner II are also reprised in their original forms on this soundtrack. While not ideal for those who have bought earlier soundtracks in the series, it is very useful for those others wanting to discover the series' history. There are two short tracks on the classic soundtrack built mainly around basic chord progressions, "Maximum Power" and "City 202", though the others are pretty much highlights. "Final Take Off" gets things aerial with its ascending bass chord progressions and rapid funk-influenced treble elements to keep things aerial. "Red Out" is an ideal theme for reflecting the endurance of air combat with its harder rock emphasis and dissonant chord sequences while "Super Stripe" meanwhile is one of the most motivating tracks on the album and probably the most catchy too. The original version of the title theme "After Burner", remixed elsewhere on the soundtrack, sounds even better with its catchy opening chord progression and particularly anthemic section at 1:14.


This is the most definitive album release in the After Burner series. After all, it features the complete soundtracks for the two main games in the series, After Burner II and After Burner Climax, in one cheap and accessible package. It therefore makes the content of the other three main album releases for the series redundant. While the After Burner II soundtrack is a must-have for classic game music fans, the After Burner Climax also brings the series to the modern age with its modern, blazing rock and electronic tracks. Those interested shouldn't hesitate to pick this up.

Overall Score: 8/10