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Monster Hunter Hunting Music Collection II ~Roaring Chapter~ :: Review by Chris

Monster Hunter Hunting Music Collection II ~Roaring Chapter~ Album Title: Monster Hunter Hunting Music Collection II ~Roaring Chapter~
Record Label: Suleputer
Catalog No.: CPCA-10195/6
Release Date: March 14, 2007
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan


Battle music has always been a highlight of the Monster Hunter series, but it has always featured in conjunction with soothing and light themes in soundtrack form. Suleputer decided to change this in 2008 with the Monster Hunter Hunting Music Collection II ~Roaring Chapter~, compiling battle music from Monster Hunter, Monster Hunter 2, Monster Hunter Freedom, and Monster Hunter Freedom 2 into a single disc. Additional tracks from Monster Hunter Portable 2nd G were also included a bonus disc on the album. Perhaps the need to publish these tracks in an album inspired the album in the first place. Unfortunately, the compilation itself isn't up to much...


Monster Hunter's distinctive approach to battle themes is exemplified by "Howling ~ Lioleus". This theme focuses on synchronising several brass crisis motifs together, but it is always interesting due to the fantastic rhythmical thrust emphasised by the accompaniment and the bold timbres created by the well synthesized orchestra. Subtle variations of the approach are made throughout, for example "Poison Mist ~ Gereois" taking a more fluid and dynamic approach and "A Crack in the Earth ~ Gravimos" gaining individuality with its piano punctuation and experimental development section. Perhaps the best of the efforts is "Crimson Horns ~ Monoblos", which creates a ritualistic sound with its ferocious percussion, oriental woodwinds, and epic choral development section. The final dungeon themes are also bold highlights. "The Moving Mountain of Sanctity" explodes after numerous unresolved brass fanfares and organ passages into "March for the Heroes", a brisk snare-driven chorus-dominated gem with the deepest development of all the action themes. They lead into a conservative but iconic arrangement of the Monster Hunter main theme in "Last and Decisive Battle" that benefits from the longer playtime in the compilation.

Much like Monster Hunter's battle themes, Monster Hunter 2's "Roar of the Marshlands Strange Beast ~ Gerio" creates drama and dynamism with its driving motifs, rasping brass solos, and enigmatic development sections. The assembly is even more crisply and competently executed than before. "The Black Shadow Dancing in the Storm ~ Kushaldaora" focuses on depicting the enemy with malevolent brass shrills and harshly punctuated bass, but still manages to incorporate some dazzling motivating sections. There are also action themes showing world music influences, such as the absolutely infectious "Queen of the Blazing Kingdom ~ Teo Teskator & Nana Teskatori" and the shakuhachi-focused "Illusion of the Dense Forest ~ Oonazumi". Some other enjoyable action themes are those that integrate the Monster Hunter 2 main theme, namely the epic organ-led "Old Mountain Dragon" and the triumphant orchestration "Challenge of the Powerful Enemy ~ Shen Gaoren". Two battle themes from the PSP titles are also included, "The Roaring Dragon Bearing Its Fangs ~ Tigarex" and "Howl of the Lone Wolf ~ Yian Garuruga". They don't offer much novel to the franchise, but are excellently done.

The battle music compilation definitely has its limitations. One of them is lack of variety. While the themes are varied on an intrinsically level, they are all loud orchestral pieces and this can be uninteresting or overbearing over an hour playtime. There is also a real lack of original material. The only real composition is Portable 2nd's "The Supreme Ruler of Hellfire ~ Akamutorum", but it's a powerful one despite the blatant Holst references. It's nevertheless nice that the choral themes "A Legend Swooping Down On Us" and "Ancient Dragon" — previously hidden at the end of the soundtracks for the console games — actually receive their own tracks this time. On the second disc, there is also another cat scat track, but it's actually irritating rather than humorous unlike predecessors. Probably the biggest problem of all is that there is a large amount of material recycled from the original Monster Hunter Hunting Music Collection. From Monster Hunter, four of the five main battle themes and the last dungeon themes are recycled, even if they're now presented as separate tracks rather than medley. Five tracks from Monster Hunter 2 and the PSP titles are also reused. Those who buy both compilations might feel a bit cheated.

While the additional music for the previous PSP titles has felt supplementary and brief, the music for Monster Hunter Portable 2nd G could have been a reasonable stand-alone purchase. Right from the three-tiered title theme, the music seems to rely less on the formats and themes of the console games, perhaps due to new composer Tadayoshi Makino. "Sleeping Bird in a Sea of Trees", for instance, provides a novel approach to action themes with its flamenco guitar solos and didgeridoo drones. The colour of the franchise continues further with the abstract yet fluidly integrated forces of "A Glutton in a Close Thicket ~ Babagonga" and "Twin-Horned Raging Tyrant of the Desert ~ Diablos", the latter somehow reminiscent of Metal Gear Solid espionage themes. The new tracks aren't just about introducing forces to the series, however, as exemplified by the subtly individualised "Angry Snow Lion ~ Dodobrango" and "Poison Swamp Crab General ~ Shogun Gizami". At the end of the soundtrack, there is also a new interpretation of the Monster Hunter 2 vocal theme, but it is disappointing. The new vocalist is too abrasive to bring out the evocative ethnic influences of the original and the introduction feels especially bombastic.


After an excellent original compilation, the Monster Hunter Hunting Music Collection II ~Roaring Chapter~ returns the series back into the realms of problematic album releases. All the battle music included here is effective in context, enjoyable on a stand-alone basis, and individualised in some way. However, for most the pieces will be more pleasing and dramatic heard in full soundtrack releases between the lighter and calmer themes. There is very little exclusive material here and there is even a whole bunch of material recycled from the original compilation. One redeeming feature is the second disc, which takes the series in a new direction and is very well done. However, Monster Hunter 3 looks set to feature pieces like these in addition to those like earlier instalments of the series, so is almost guaranteed to be a massive and diverse score if Suleputer get the soundtrack right. Most will find it more worthwhile waiting for this soundtrack to get their Monster Hunter fix rather than purchasing an album that seems to have been made simply for the sake of it.

Overall Score: 6/10