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The Legend of Heroes IV Electric Orchestra :: Review by Chris

The Legend of Heroes IV Electric Orchestra Album Title: The Legend of Heroes IV Electric Orchestra
Record Label: King Records (1st Edition); Nihon Falcom (Reprint)
Catalog No.: KICA-1188; NF02031
Release Date: September 21, 1996; December 7, 2000
Purchase: Buy at eBay


The Legend of Heroes IV: Running Red Blood was commemorated with its own synthetic orchestral album shortly after its release in 1996. As with The Legend of Heroes III Electric Orchestra released around the same time, The Legend of Heroes IV Electric Orchestra features arranger Tamiya Terashima and similar synth. Despite their similar production approaches, the albums are very different in their focuses. The Legend of Heroes III Electric Orchestra was principally a scenic album, resulting in a lot of colourful and atmospheric depictions. In contrast, The Legend of Heroes IV Electric Orchestra is more a personal album, focusing on conveying memories and emotions rather than representing scenery. For me at least, though, the latter falls down as an overall musical experience.


The album opens with an orgel-based interpretation of the main theme for the title, "Running Red Blood". Though may will find this nostalgic, I personally find it too simple and unexpressive, especially compared with the opener of The Legend of Heroes III Electric Orchestra. Subsequent sections offer everything from soft string passages to romantic piano sections to relaxing drum kit beats. However, the arrangement feels somewhat contrived given the simplicity that preceded it and sometimes the low quality synth is problematic. "When Will You Return?" is also an uncomfortable listen to me. While some will go 'aww' while listening to, I found this orchestration too sentimental with its use of serene violin melodies and acoustic guitar arpeggios. It sounds like derivative music from a dating simulator, not a suite from a colourful fantasy album like The Legend of Heroes III Electric Orchestra.

The romantic focus continues with much of the rest of the album to often superior results. For example, "City of Iron ~ Gia ~" is a haunting romantic miniature featuring an elegant piano lead and some heartfelt development. Though an emotional highlight, I feel it would have been superior were a solo piano piece, since the poorly synthesized strings just add an overlay of superficiality. While another sugar-coated piece, "Treading Lightly" at least exhibits some more vivid orchestration compared to the other entries; the dashing passages influenced by romantic composers are especially welcome. "Seeking the Truth" is also a compelling orchestration and serves as a reminder of how Terashima is capable of simultaneously enticing and betraying listeners with each dark chord progression or thematic recollection. It's such a shame this album features so few such pieces.

As with the previous Electric Orchestra, Tamiya Terashima doesn't hesitate to deviate from pure symphonic ensembles. "On the Ocean Wind", for instance, dares to incorporate accordions and electronic beats alongside more conventional orchestral instruments. Some will find the fusion a relaxing and scenic ones, but yet others simply tacky. In a total contrast, "Wandering Thoughts" is a throwback to the gothic styles of its predecessor with chorus, organ, and harpsichord and is certainly one of the most enjoyable entries to the album. The last two additions are also quite unconventional, the reprise of "Running Red Blood" dominated by the radiant auras of ringing chime bars and "Travelling on the Road of Dreams" written more in the style of an instrumental pop ballad. They're certainly a fitting way to round off the album, but are still perhaps not the symphonic masterpieces many would expect.


Overall, The Legend of Heroes IV Electric Orchestra did not click with me as well as its predecessor. It seems much more focused on conveying sentimentality and nostalgia than offering something more deep and remarkable. This results in some very derivative orchestrations, contrived moments, and unappealing synth work. There are a number of highlights on the album, for example "City of Iron", "Seeking the Truth", and "Wandering Thoughts", but many others had their faults. However, this approach isn't necessary a bad one for some audiences and many with a high affinity towards the game would like it more. It's no masterpiece, but still serves as a decent fan service.

Overall Score: 6/10