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Armored Core Original Best Track :: Review by Chris

Armored Core Original Best Track Album Title: Armored Core Original Best Track
Record Label: Absord Music Japan
Catalog No.: ABCA-40
Release Date: November 26, 1999
Purchase: Buy at eBay


The Armored Core Original Best Track is a rather misleading name for an album. It is neither a dedication to the original Armored Core, nor a compilation of the entire series. Instead it features the original scores for two expansion titles, Armored Core: Project Phantasma and Armored Core: Master of Arena, released for the PlayStation in 1997 and 1999. The music for both titles was among the most impressive electronic game music produced at that point.


The soundtrack instantly reflects how the series' music has progressed since the first game. Like the tracks in its predecessor, "Apex in the Circle" fits the game with its blend of bittersweet synthpads and mechanical beats. However, the composer seems to have focused on offering something instantly accessible to listeners, with various catchy hooks and compelling rhythms. In fact, the grooves featured here are remarkably reminiscent of the Streets of Rage scores, except better sampled and more serious. It's a great way to draw listeners into the experience.

That's not to say the soundtrack has been watered down from its predecessor. In fact, "Grip" from Armored Core: Project Phantasma greatly develops upon the more hostile sound featured on the original game: the synthesis is tighter here, the stylings are more in line with psychadelic trance, the development is much more comprehensive, and there are novel elements such as the various vocal samples. Working spectacular both in and out of context, it offers exactly what is missing in the somewhat repetitive and derivative tracks from the original Armored Core.

In addition to being more elaborate and accessible, the two soundtracks featured here are also highly diverse. For instance, "Smash and Grab" takes listeners on a boundless journey with its spacey synthpads and thrusting beats, while "Boil Down Acid" suits its name with its hypnotic interweaving elements. "Insurance Money", on the other hand, goes down the hardcore route with abrasive beats and voice samples. Remixed from the original Armored Core, "Junk Mail" is also highly experimental and dramatic. There's clearly something novel in every single item on this soundtrack.

Taken from Armored Core: Master of Arena, "Trans - Am" and "Synoptic Dope" are among the liveliest additions to the soundtrack. They feature catchy piano riffs punctuating lively drum and bass structures. Further piano elements are featured to contrasting effect in the stunningly beautiful "Ambiguity" and deep entrancing "Circulation". The soundtrack closes with extended remixes of "Apex in the Circle" and "Trans - Am", both of which are well done; the former greatly elaborates on the sparing if likeable content from the original, while the latter provide a more soothing perspective on the credits theme.


Overall, the Armored Core Original Best Track improve on the series' impressive musical foundations in every way. The co-composers of the soundtrack suitably depict the atmosphere and action of this mecha action game, while offering various features to draw stand-alone listeners in. The soundtrack is much more individual and experimental than its predecessor, in part reflecting the ambition of new series' composers Kota Hoshino and Tsukasa Saitoh, and this ensures a very varied and satisfying listen.

Overall Score: 7/10