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Xenosaga Episode III Original Sound Best Tracks :: Review by Conor

Xenosaga Episode III Also Sprach Zarathustra Original Sound Best Tracks Album Title: Xenosaga Episode III Also Sprach Zarathustra Original Sound Best Tracks
Record Label: Victor Entertainment
Catalog No.: VICL-61975/6
Release Date: July 12, 2006
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan


The Xenosaga Original Soundtrack was probably one of the biggest features of the game itself. Several TV adverts mentioned its use of the London Philharmonic Orchestra and it was composed by the highly acclaimed composer, Yasunori Mitsuda well known for his work on Chrono Trigger, Chrono Cross and Xenogears (the spiritual sequel to the saga at hand). The Xenosaga Original Soundtrack was a huge success. Yuki Kajiura, an anime composer best known for her work on the .hack//SIGN and Noir soundtracks took up Mitsuda's role for Xenosaga II's movie scenes while Shinji Hosoe composed the music for game play and lower class cut scenes. Kajiura's movie scene soundtrack while largely criticised for an over usage of the same themes, was well received by the fans for its unique but still epic sound. Now for the final soundtrack in the saga, Kajiura has returned to compose for the entire game, game play and all.

This is Kajiura's selection of tracks. There are plenty missing from the game (more than enough for a second, maybe third album in the near future). Looking through media for the game, there are plenty of tracks I'd rather have ousted here in exchange for other ones but this selection is quite varied and all the music is well composed. I'd say this soundtrack certainly does have the very best tracks from the game on it, and trust me, you'll know them when you hear them

All 23 tracks on Disc One are fairly average length. The longest being 3:18, the shortest 1:41. Disc Two is about the same length as the first, despite having six tracks less.

Track-by-Track Reviews

Disc One

1) A Prelude to the Tragedy

The soundtrack opens with a slow and steady performance from the strings, which creates a foreboding atmosphere. Seconds into the theme the strings stop and a sad piano melody starts for a mother and son's farewell, following which the strings enter again with the first melody accompanied by a horn to conclude the game's prelude. (7/10)

2) Fallout

Fallout is the battle theme for the game. It's rather ambient in comparison to the fast paced and orchestrated battle theme from the first game. It starts with synth setting the beat and strings playing over them. Soon, a piano develops the melody further, whilst being accompanied by synth. There are some occasional female vocals in the background. It's an unusually light battle theme. (7/10)

3) We've Got to Believe in Something

One of the more popular tracks on the soundtrack, this starts with strings building fast and powerfully, with occasional synth in the background. It builds up on the string instruments once or twice and then goes back to where it started, but this time accompanied by a female choir. The choir helps make the climax of the theme very powerful. Upon the tune's repeat, the choir is replaced with a steady flute eventually reuniting all three. The song is reminiscent of Go Shiina's march from Tales of Legendia, though very different in their approach. (9/10)

4) A Dark Omen

One of the least popular themes; a slow dark melody played purely on strings, with a drum playing a quiet beat in the background and some synth noise. The melody is pretty uninspired. I have to say the synthesizer version missing from this album is nicer and much more mysterious. This version of the theme lacks mystery. It's only dark and foreboding and pretty stereotypical. It doesn't really create interest or anything. (5/10)

5) A Forgotten Sanctuary

I'd imagine from listening to the theme and the title this is a church theme. It starts with a bell ringing and follows with a sad slow melody that is repeated with a harp. The tune is quite nice. The bell shows up once or twice along with the harp. (7/10)

6) Creeping Into

This is the first example of Kajiura's answer to game play music. A compromise between the silences used in Xenosaga Episode I's areas and Xenosaga Episode II's blaring BGM. The theme fuses quite nicely with game play but it's as a stand alone theme that its worth gets called into question. Straight away, a fast paced beat with synth in the background and a timid piano playing. The fusion of the instruments works quite well, maybe because the melody is so scarce. It's quite listenable. (7/10)

7) The Battle Of Your Soul

This is the boss theme of the game and its noticeably fast paced and powerful. There's an orchestral feel created with the dominant trumpet setting the theme into motion with a bang along with the quick and loud strings playing along with the trombone. There's a usage of percussion and a horn adding further to the theme. The melody is much heavier than a lot of the game play tracks before it. (8/10)

8) Rolling Down The U.M.N.

A slightly edited version of the first dungeon theme, this theme called into question whether or not Hosoe was returning to the series as this really didn't sound at all Kajiura, but yes, it's her. The theme is a really light jazzy song. In comparison to the "U.M.N..." theme played in Xenosaga Episode I, it's considerably different. Mitsuda's "U.M.N..." theme was like the theme song for a computer (the U.M.N... is basically the universe wide internet in Xenosaga). This theme on the other is like one you'd hear on an actual computer. Someone like me who's played the "play-online" service with games like Final Fantasy XI will swear they've heard something like this before. It's an interesting change of interpretation from Mitsuda's. Now to the actual theme; it starts with a fast paced beat set with drums, and electronic sound effects add to the beat and a piano that ranges from heavy to light but always moves along quite fast shows up often. Definitely one of the more unique themes on the album. (8/10)

9) In A Limestone Cave

This is a gorgeous, quiet piece of background music. A harp-like piece of synth sets the light beat while an ambient electronic keyboard sets the melody gradually more and more. A lovely cello accompanies the melody adding to it. The tune is light and solid, if it's a cave theme it's a welcome departure from darker, heavier interpretations of the beck-ground. (9/10)

10) Inferno

Can't say I'm too fond of this one. If you're not put off by the loud chaotic string opening, then you'll get a pretty solid theme, but it's not particularly pleasant or interesting. There's some trumpet and trombone in there in-between the loud dominant strings. The string taking up mostly the fast paced chaotic majority of the theme, and the trumpet as it slows for a few seconds. (4/10)

11) On Our Way

The tune is carried on the oboe in this theme along with some percussion. The oboe plays slowly and steadily along with the light sparse beat. It creates a desolate atmosphere and while it creates it effectively it's not very interesting in melody or choice of instruments. (5/10)

12) A New World

A piano accompanied by strings starts off steady and slowly builds. The theme's tune is heart warming. There's percussion that you barely notice. The strings really seal in the emotion with the theme. (7/10)

13) T-elos

The new antagonist to the series, strikingly similar in appearance to the series poster-child Kos-Mos. My first bone to pick with this track is there's no melody here. As you listen to the track, imagine someone to play a piano to it, just chaos. With that point made, the theme's charm is in the choice of instruments for it. It starts off with fast paced drums setting a heavy beat and an electric guitar in the back. A jingling starts and is quite suddenly cut along with the drums, both of which are replaced by coarse female vocals as the guitar builds rapidly. The vocals cut and the drums and jingling is back with a wild, aggressive violin. The theme mixes and repeats this process. Because of the odd but effective combination and usage of the instruments despite the lack of melody, the theme is one of the more interesting ones, and I always give it a listen when browsing through the CD. (7/10)

14) The Militia Incidents

This theme has a lot of different aspects to it. At the centre of the tune is the song "U-Do" from the Xenosaga Episode II movie scene soundtrack. It plays its dark atmosphere building slowly but surely, it cuts in between remixes of the new "Song Of Nephilim," which is a young girl singing rather hauntingly. It then suddenly cuts to an all new melody. In the game's context, the Militia incident was an event that happened 14 years ago which involved all the robots in a city going insane, killing everyone insight, an epidemic of monsters being unleashed on the universe and this evil higher being escaping from its prison. This theme is chaotic in that it's like a roughly organized mixture of all these songs as they were presented in the story. While all of the songs are good I'd have rather seen them divided and presented individually as this mixture takes away from all the songs. (6/10)

15) Febronia

This is a lovely character theme. It opens with a slow flute and that stays at the centre of the song for the most part. A piano quickly accompanies it. It sticks to this for pretty much the whole theme. Some light synth shows up before a minute into the song. There's a flowery theme about it and it gets across the character extremely well. The melody is one to remember. (8/10)

16) Promised Pain

One of the most memorable themes on the soundtrack and the final boss theme. Often described as a slower version to the popular "Communication Breakdown," it combines choir and powerful strings along with a distinct synth for a light beat. It opens with a dominant string melody, and the synth slowly enters, and then enters the choir whose singing is complimented with the work of the strings. It slowly builds and then the choir charges as the song builds rapidly and epically, then at the climax all the weight is relieved and there's a reference to "Prelude to the Tragedy." Then the theme is repeated, but this time faster and both the choir and strings are heavier and more drawn out. It all cuts rather suddenly and five seconds of the tune plays on an electric piano for the theme's ending. (10/10)

17) Mother I Miss You

This is the first rearrangement of the theme "Prelude To The Tragedy." The strings from track one are replaced with an oboe and the feeling is more of a sad memory than a desolate atmosphere. The piano follows the oboe as it did with the strings in the original track but the melody it plays is different. The piano feels more like one whole song with the oboe than it did with the strings in the original song. (6/10)

18) Fate

This is the music for the summary of Xenosaga Episode II presented in the game. It's a remix of several themes from the game (most of which were already remixed into an individual song on the Xenosaga Episode II soundtrack, the image theme). There's a lot of "Fatal Fight" and "In the beginning there was..." thrown in here. Uilleann pipes and the loud sudden string opening specifically. As this is the music for a summary of several events there's no real melody here. Just the bagpipes playing and some sound effects (from Xenosaga Episode II's soundtrack coincidentally) and electronic jingles. (4/10)

19) Zarathustra Dungeon

This track is almost completely synth. It's not that great either. It's overly ambient. There's a heavy tribal drum beat laced throughout that shows up consistently. The rest is just odd beats, beeps and synth. Worth a miss if you ask me. (4/10)

20) Shifting Territories

This one starts off slow with a constant synth. You don't really know where its going then about half way through the theme a fast paced string piece plays. Its one of those chase/enemy attack themes you see in every RPG. This one is quite nice with a good fast paced melody. The strings give off an air of desperation. (7/10)

21) Hepatica#2

The first of three beautiful themes on the soundtrack is also the weakest of the three. It's the theme of Maria who is Xenosaga's take on Mary Magdalene. It starts with a simple piano arrangement of the Hepatica tune that later on is accompanied with light strings. It only plays once and is over quite quick. (7/10)

22) The Harsh Truth

This is like Kajiura's take on Mitsuda's "Sorrow". (I'd have to say I prefer this song over sorrow). It's pretty much strings and piano setting the atmosphere effectively. (7/10)

23) To The Last Place

This is a dark, slow and serious arrangement of the ending theme, "Maybe Tomorrow". There's a bell ringing occasionally with a slow drum beat like an army march. The tune of "Maybe Tomorrow" is played solely through the strings here. (6/10)

Disc Two

1) Hepatica (Kos-Mos)

Disc Two opens with Eri Itoh's beautiful vocals. Kajiura fans might know Itoh from her Tsubasa Chronicle Original Soundtrack. The first 80 seconds of the song are Itoh's singing accompanied by a piano. After that, the piano is led by chimes as the tune repeats itself. Itoh rejoins the tune eventually along with both the piano and chimes. Then a synthesizer starts a constant but light beat which is accompanied by gorgeous strings and the piano yet again, the chimes included. For the beautiful finale everything cuts except Itoh's singing which the piano follows (as opposed to playing along with her). The song ends with them joining together as they did in the opening. This is quite possibly the best song on the album. It's beautiful and innocent. I'm talking new-born baby beautiful and innocent. This is one of those songs you buy the album solely for. Without a doubt. (10+/10)

2) Battle Land

This is another one of those chaotic enemy attack themes. This is actually a remix of a much better song that wasn't included on this album. There's seconds of murky synth at the start then this desperate sounding string starts to play a well formed melody. It's rather fast paced but chaotic. (6/10)

3) A Memory Of A Tragedy

This is almost the exact same as the opening theme except for a bell that tolls once or twice in the song. When the piano plays the tune stays the same as the strings that are playing as opposed to playing a different melody altogether. Considering how excellently varied the large amount of themes Kajiura reused in the Xenosaga Episode II soundtrack were, you have to wonder why she didn't apply the same talent to this song. Hopefully for the better of the scene it plays in rather than laziness. (6/10)

4) Testament

This is a boss theme for the testament characters. This theme is littered with Latin but it's not known whether its Kajiuran just mixed with relevant Latin words as the booklet doesn't list the lyrics. Kajiuran is a technique Kajiura uses when she uses made up words as opposed to real languages with her songs to use the voice as an instrument itself (as she put it). I know a lot of people like to make up lyrics for these songs. She often mixes actual words to suggest the theme and tone of the song. You can hear "Thanatos..." which has a lot of relevance to death as a wikipedia search will explain and with death in mind has a lot of connections to the Testament characters. You can also hear Salva Nos (save us), Maria and Dominus. But I don't speak Latin so don't ask me.

Anyway, the theme works mainly with a choir and synth. Its very dark and holy sounding. For the first half of the theme it's led mainly with the choir singing solemnly and the strings stay in the background. About half-way through the strings start heavy and strong as do the choir and the slowly rise together. After the climax the strings lead off in a different direction and then the song returns to the same tuna as it did in its opening. with the strings and choir both darker and stronger this time around. Very memorable and very well done. (9/10)

5) Survive

This is the second battle theme for when the party hops in there giant robots called E.S. It's rather ambient again but darker and more serious than the character battle theme. The strings are used excellently to create an epic war feel accompanied by Trumpets and Trombone. Good use of percussion adds nicely to the track. (8/10)

6) T-elos #2

"T-elos #2" is still missing the solid melody the first one lacked. The only instrument remaining from the original "T-elos" is the electric guitar. Other than that there's a new and fairly unique synthesized beat that stands out in your head. (7/10)

7) She's Coming Back

This is the robot/android Kos-Mos's theme carried over and remixed from the Xenosaga Episode II track "Here She Comes." The synth melody here is the exact same but this version is better compared to the Xenosaga Episode II track, which was remixed with a loud and some-what gaudy beat. The beat in this track is much slower, better done and compliments the strings much better. The strings themselves are lightening and empowering as they build quite rapidly. It's a really interesting take on Kos-Mos's character. It's not at all like battling Kos-Mos, The girl who closed her heart or Hepatica or any other themes associated with the series poster-child. (9/10)

8) When The Grief Lets You Go

This is a piano and violin piece. The melody is very distinct and nice. It starts with piano playing the melody, it slowly stalls and then the violin enters playing the tune while the piano has now become the beat. The violin then adds to the melody as a cello joins and empowers it. As they both silence the piano summarizes the theme lightly and ends. (7/10)

9) Godsibb

Eri Itoh returns, in another 10/10 track. What exactly a Godsibb is, I couldn't tell you, but if I had to guess, considering the storyline and the battle it plays in I'd say it means God Slayer. It's easily the most epic boss theme throughout the entire series. Easily. Eri's vocals are present from the start accompanied by a dark, looming beat and piano. 45 seconds into the song all is cut and then Eri's voice booms back into action accompanied by this electric guitar and strings. The strings work in quick wisps to form a beat as opposed to carrying the melody as they have in so many tracks before this and it works very well. I strongly recommend having your volume up to the max for the full effect if you ever listen to this song. Then Eri phases out of the song and the strings carry the melody on there own for a while, a catchy drum beat replacing them as the beat but Eri's vocals come back for the songs climax. Following this all instruments are cut except for Eri's voice, the opening synth beat and the piano as the song fades out all in a dark, dark and terribly epic fashion. Yet another one of those songs you buy the soundtrack solely for. (10/10)

10) Febronia #2

This version of Febronia is a bit more fast paced (not that the theme is fast paced). The flute has been ditched and replaced with a violin which carries the tune quite well in this version giving off a different feel to the first Febronia track. Strings loom in powerful, steady beats. The theme constantly builds and as it approaches climax all is silenced and a piano shyly carries on the melody for a matter of seconds, a pause and then the string and violin return for the climatic ending of the song and Febronia's story. (8/10)

11) Crisis Coming

A rapid building on strings and more of that army march drum beat. As the theme builds a horn is introduced and a silence is introduced just in time fore the drawn out climax. When the song repeats itself the building is much lower but the climax is almost the exact same, save some more usage of the horn towards the end. The melody is pretty solid. It's fast paced and has an aggressive looming nature to it but it wouldn't be one of my favorites. (6/10)

12) A New World #2

Another arrangement that seems disappointing with Xenosaga Episode II's excellent usage of variation in tracks based on the same theme. All that's really happened here is the piano has been replaced with strings. It's a nice track, no denying but they really could have gone somewhere special with this. (7/10)

13) Outrageous

This is a pretty good track. It's the sort of thing that plays when the villain explains his diabolical plot. It runs mainly on a really dark electric guitar playing over a constantly building beat or strings. Kajiura's excellent use of the electric guitar accompanied with her skilful composition of strings creates the atmosphere perfectly. It's fast-paced and very dark. The entire theme is building; it doesn't really reach a climax of its own. It ends rather suddenly in fact. Because of course this plays right before the epic boss theme kicks into place. Very nice. (8/10)

14) When The Grief Lets You Go #2

The track kicks off with some very dark synth and then the tragic tune enters carried on violin. The dark synth and violin sink away when the piano takes over the tune. The piano is solo for awhile but as it expands the tune past, what we already know from the original "When The Grief Lets You Go" strings accompany it and eventually take over as the song repeats accompanied by a viola that can be hard to spot. The piano ends the tragic song on a surprisingly light note. (8/10)

15) I Love You Sincerely

It's an arrangement of "Maybe Tomorrow" and much closer to the original than "To The Last Place." The strings are raised rather high towards the end of the song when a synthesized beat starts playing in a rather nice fashion. Naturally it's rather touching and is used during the big, "I love you" speech. (7/10)

16) Hepatica ~ I Believe In You

This is the theme played during the ending credits and the ending cut scene. It's "Hepatica" played slowly on 'cello with some harp and strings in the background. They're not very dominant at all. The 'cello is replaced with violins when the theme repeats. As the violin reaches its climax it's replaced with powerful strings but you'd barely notice as a powerful beat enters. A piano slowly sneaks into the song at some point. The tune carries on with the piano and 'cello accompanying and complimenting each other briefly but the song ends with both strings, 'cello and violin collaborating. The song moves at a slow steady pace making it rather emotional and a very nice way to hold the ending scene together as the following track probably couldn't have managed. (8/10)

17) Maybe Tomorrow ~ Ending Medley

The tune for Maybe Tomorrow is pretty solid, as are the lyrics. It's the vocalist that's lacking and noticeably at that. Emily Curtis is a pop singer whose voice is rather flat throughout this song. Most of the singing's pretty tolerable. The one point where it stands out that she's not really up to the job is when she sings the words "Maybe Tomorrow." Brilliant. But although the song's almost eight minutes long, I doubt she's singing for more than 3:30 of that time. Maybe tomorrow moves at a steady pace and there are points when Curtis stops and lets the strings take over for a few seconds. Then there's the "...Ending Medley." I think Kajiura was just trying to take up space with this. The medley is a grouping of excerpts from different songs assembled together all playing one after the other, all at a different pace. It does nothing for the song aside from taking from it.

The ending medley consists of the loud opening to "The Battle Of Your Soul," getting it into your head straight away that any thought to arrangement for this medley is out the window. Following this is a powerful theme included in the game but not present on this album. With a powerful choir in it, it's certainly worthy of the best tracks selection but sadly it was not included, following this is an arrangement of "Sweet Song," the main theme from Xenosaga II. I think it's an edited arrangement of the opening theme as the flute seems more dominant that it did on the actual CD. Next in line is "Hepatic ~ I Believe in You" and finally a rather dramatic arrangement of the climax to "Prelude To The Tragedy." All of these are only a matter of seconds long. I just skip past them to the final part of "Maybe Tomorrow" and the last piece of music to play in the Xenosaga series

It's Curtis singing the opening of the song to a piano, you're expecting the song to continue in the lyrics you've already heard but she instead sings of how she'll "go on" in whatever it's interpreted to mean. The tune for "Maybe Tomorrow" is then summarized nicely in a small piano piece as a tragic and artistic piece of imagery shows on the TV screen and the title Xenosaga shows on the screen. Overall the song works very well. With that last statement in mind, the ending medley doesn't play in the game, Hepatica ~I Believe in You plays in between the two parts of "Maybe Tomorrow" where the ending medley is inserted. I'd have rated it higher was it presented that way on the soundtrack but anyway. (7/10)


The Xenosaga III Original Sound Best Tracks is pretty balanced and varied in style. Similar to Kajiura's other albums, Xenosaga III Original Sound Best Tracks blow just about everything else out of the water. Background music is new territory for Kajiura and some of what she's presented is overly ambient. While Kajiura's last soundtrack may have been to rich in her own style and put some people off, this is more toned down and for a wider audience. She's composed more than a hundred tracks for this game and there's just as many weaker tracks selected for this soundtrack than stronger ones.

Overall Score: 8/10