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Armored Core for Answer Original Soundtrack :: Review by Chris

Armored Core for Answer Original Soundtrack Album Title: Armored Core for Answer Original Soundtrack
Record Label: Aniplex
Catalog No.: SVWC-7540
Release Date: March 19, 2008
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan


Following the poor reception of Armored Core 4 and its soundtrack, the team at From Software looked carefully at what went wrong and redeemed themselves with Armored Core: For Answer. Kota Hoshino's soundtrack maintained some of the rock elements on its predecessor, but enhanced them with better writing, excellent implementation, and, most importantly, plenty of creative contributions otherwise. The result is the most artistically accomplished soundtrack of the entire series.


Hoshino introduces the memorable main theme for Armored Core: For Answer on "Someone is Always Moving on the Surface". Inspired by minimalistic artists, the composer builds a gorgeous yet perplexing timbre by reiterating a piano motif and gradually adding rich choral and string parts above. From its bare origins to its gushing climax, the entire composition is artistically considered and beautifully realised. The work inspires intense imagery of the decaying and desperate planet portrayed in the game. Furthermore, it has a major emotional effect on a stand-alone basis, simultaneously soothing listeners with its soft and consonant timbres, yet potentially inspiring tears with its tragic undertones.

Like with the Armored Core 3 soundtrack, the motif reappears throughout the soundtrack in a symbolic and sophisticated manner. The renditions range from straightforward elegaic orchestrations in "Intro" and "Water Down", to revealing cinematic cues such as "Set the Sunset" and "Great Wall". "Cicada" is a particularly impressive addition to the soundtrack, since it undergoes a major metamorphosis concurrently with the game's scenes. The opening of the track is quite conflicted, blending a reflective interpretation of the main theme on suspended strings, with electronic and rock backing consistent with the action pieces elsewhere on the score. The way the latter elements gradually predominate is highly liberating both in and out of the game.

Some compositions build on the more abrasive fusions featured on the Armored Core 4 soundtrack, but to much greater success. "Scorcher", for instance, blends heavily manipulated male vocals with grungy instrumentals. The entire composition has a great thrust throughout, facilitated by persuasive lyrical hooks such as "I've got stronger, come and fight me" and the repeated grisly bass riffs. There are several similar but distinctive compositions featured elsewhere in the soundtrack, notably "I Can See All" with its vocoded vocals, "Viper" with its more mainstream rock sound, and "Cosmos" with its encompassing scope. "4 the Answer" and its counterpart "Today" achieve an even more gigantic sound by fusing the chants of a complete chorus with ever-loudening hybridised instrumentation.

Beyond such centrepieces, plenty of creativity is featured elsewhere on the soundtrack. "Radiation", for instance, prepares gamers for the action with ever-building dense string passages and tribal percussion elements. It's amazing how the track ends on a subtly unresolved note with an orchestral discord. Underground techno artist Hideyuki Eto also makes two action-packed guest contributions, "Test Pattern" and "Afterimage", both of which offer distinct colors and enhance the overall experience. The conclusion of the soundtrack is as spectacular as the introduction, with "Remember" once again dazzling with rocks and choral elements, before "Curtain Fall" offers a gorgeous recapitulation of the main theme.


Armored Core: For Answer is one of the few game soundtracks that is a true reflection of artistry, rather than craftsmanship. While it certainly fits the game beautifully, Kota Hoshino offers something much greater and deeper than that alone. It is difficult to unconditionally recommend the album, since its very experimental in its approach and hence potentially inaccessible too. However, the soundtrack is still a masterpiece and will greatly satisfy those who are looking for something creative and divine.

Overall Score: 10/10