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Shadow Hearts II Original Soundtrack :: Review by Totz

Shadow Hearts II Original Soundtrack Album Title: Shadow Hearts II Original Soundtrack
Record Label: Team Entertainment
Catalog Number: KDSD-00030/1
Release Date: March 24, 2004
Content: 2 CD Set - 64 Tracks
Purchase: Buy at Game Music Online


Shadow Hearts was a game that most people probably didn't play, myself included. I was too trusting in the reviews, which said the game had some good ideas, but poor execution. However, the soundtrack amazed me, because it was the first time I had ever listened to an RPG Original Soundtrack that was so different from everything else. The game had a really dark theme, and the album reflects it.

Anyway, years pass and Shadow Hearts II (or Shadow Hearts: Covenant in some places) is released. Being an RPG aficionado, I thought about checking it out, so I once again turn to reviews, and, to my surprise, they are all positive! So I go ahead and get the game. Long story short, I was dazzled by it. Never had I seen such a thing. The story managed to mix up very serious themes and some hilarious antics in there as well (like Grand Papillon and his Teacher), so it never got dull.

The soundtrack is still one of the best parts of the game, because it manages to mix so many styles and feelings it's amazing. Yoshitaka Hirota and Yasunori Mitsuda, authors of the first Shadow Hearts Original Soundtrack, were joined by Kenji Ito and Tomoko Kobayashi, although the latter doesn't get as much air time as the others (and is not even mentioned in the credits of the game!). I've talked enough about stuff that doesn't matter, so on with the review!

Track-by-Track Reviews

Disc One

1) Prelude~

OK, this is not a Silent Hill soundtrack. You... you don't... what? Fine, go check if you're listening to the right CD. Da-dee-da, dum-dee-dum. Happy now? This is indeed a very disturbing track, and it really sounds Silent Hill-ish (after all, SH is both Shadow Hearts and Silent Hill. Coincidence? Hm, probably.), but it is by no means a reflection of the rest of the soundtrack. If anything, it's a throwback to the Shadow Hearts Original Soundtrack, which featured more pieces like this one. "Prelude~" by itself is nothing majestic, but when coupled with the next track, it becomes an awesome intro. (7/10)


If you just read the previous track's review, you probably understood that both these pieces are just one kickass composition split into two. The difference is that this one stands on itself pretty well, and is actually used to show scenes of the game when you act like a lazy guy that doesn't press the Start button on the menu. The female choir and the guitar sound awesome together. Kudos to Hirota for that. (9/10)

3) Deep Meditation

I don't know why, but I get chills when listening to this piece. It's Silent Hill-esque in a way, with the static sound and the suspended note. But what really makes the difference is Hirota's touch. He manages to create a weird sense of hope in the piece, not just tension. You can't expect that from the scary game with the same acronym. Anyway, this is not a track I listen to very often, and because of its rather ambient nature, it might not appeal to everyone's tastes. (8/10)

4) Old Smudged Map

Wow, I haven't heard such a good Mitsuda track since the Chrono Cross Original Soundtrack, and that was way back in '99. This is used in the game when you're in the European map, and I doubt that anyone who has played the game didn't stop for a while to listen to this. I know I have. Having a map theme that is well-developed enough not to give players migraines is a dream come true. Also, I must say the synth is fantastic, if it is indeed synth. (10/10)

5) Death is the Great Leveller

This is used in the first dungeon of the game, a tower filled with the spirits of the dead. What I like most about this track is the interesting combination of piano and percussion, with strings in the background. It gives a rather eerie feeling, which is perfect for that tower. Also, take notice of the weird voice that appears at 0:46. That is just a huge mood-enhancer, if you ask me. (9/10)

6) Vicious 1915

Yes, the first battle theme. After the awesome "Brain Hopper" from the Shadow Hearts Original Soundtrack, Hirota couldn't let us down. Thank God he didn't. While "Vicious 1915" is not as good as its predecessor, it's still a great battle track. With strong and solid percussion lines, Hirota's trademark choir, and some piano sections here and there, what's there not to like? All I know is that it got me pumped for battle every single time, so this is a winner. (9.5/10)

7) Swoop!

Like its predecessor, this soundtrack contains a berserk version of each battle theme, which is used only when a character of your party loses all its SP. While it does give the battle a more frantic pace, I don't find them to be at all necessary, and just a tad on the rough side. This one's beginning with the cymbals is awful, and nothing can rescue this piece from direness. The beat is annoying, the melody is frustrating, the piano sucks, and everything else is not worth mentioning. (3/10)

8) Suffocation

This is a very tense track, hence the name. The piano really helps in giving an aura of mystery, while the suspended strings create the necessary tension. Even when the piano is by itself, you can't help but wonder what's going to come, and I believe that was Hirota's plan all along. At 1:31, some percussion joins the piano the strings (like what we had before wasn't enough development). Another very solid effort. (8.5/10)

9) Flame of Strain to Blaze

If you can withstand the annoyance of the first 46 seconds, you're in for a treat. The track transforms from completely abysmal to awesome with some kickass guitar use. And pay attention to the section between 1:24 to 1:34 (it's repeated twice): that's a fantastic chord sequence. It's a shame it gets kind of boring afterwards, because the ambience isn't that effective in this case. (7/10)

10) In Darkness of a Labyrinth

Argh, so much ambience is getting annoying. And this one isn't particularly fun to listen to. It just features the basic features of what you would expect from a track like this: suspended strings, a bit of percussion, and some other instruments to create some mystery. Boring! (5/10)

11) Twilight Street

Ooh, this one I particularly enjoy. It's played in several cities, mostly French ones, if I recall correctly. Anyway, it's got some exquisite use of the acoustic guitar, and then an accordion (or something like it) shows up to give the piece an even bigger French aura. It's very relaxing, very laid-back, like you were just strolling around the town. (9/10)

12) Memories of Melodies

Hey, Ito. This is another very laid-back track. It's a bit similar to the previous one, but "Memories of Melodies" goes where "Twilight Street" didn't go by exploring the more emotional side. Both feature an acoustic guitar and percussion (although Ito uses it more), but, while the previous track has an accordion, this one has a wind instrument, and that makes all the difference. It's much more delicate-sounding, so to speak. The way it is developed is also very nice: the wind takes the lead by continuing the melody and playing a dreamy passage. Great stuff right here. (9/10)

13) Dear, My Dressmaker

I find this one to be a tad on the cool side, for some reason, maybe because it's so quirky or something. You get to hear it during the game when you're dealing with the Magimel Brothers, these two French brothers. One makes dresses and the other one sells you rubbish. I don't know what's the instrument playing the melody, but I like it a lot. Actually, the whole ensemble works perfectly in the track's favor, as it does not get annoying, because it's developed enough. For a piece with such small importance, Hirota sure does care about it. (9/10)

14) His Name Is Grand Papillon!!

Seriously, I love this one. As soon as the Grand Papillon character appears in the game, we're treated to this piece, which is nothing short of awesome when you're a dumbass like me. It probably sounds just OK when you listen to it on a stand-alone basis, but awesome in the scenes it's played in. The brass instruments give it a sense of grandness, which is needed when you're a big dude who calls yourself Grand Papillon, and the percussion is used effectively. This track is just brass and percussion, with strings having a secondary role during the second part of the piece, serving mostly as background. Heh, isn't it amazing that I can write so much about such a short track, when it takes me forever to write about the longer tracks? I think everyone's having a trouble believing I really like this track. I've liked weirder things, so it's OK. (10/10)

15) Soul Comet

Ah, this one brings back some cool memories. It's played when Blanca (the party's wolf) is talking trash to another wolf, right before the big bout begins. There's this tournament, where wolves fight each other, so you've got to go around the world fighting them wolves. The brass and percussion give a militaristic feel to the piece, to make it seem like there is some huge battle about to happen. And that's cool. The flute and the harp also make quick appearances to help the transition between segments of the track. It could have been developed better, but who am I to complain? It works wonderfully during the game, and I've been listening to it repeatedly while I write this, and it didn't get old. (9/10)

16) Glint of Light - orchestral arrangement -

To keep the order of in-game tracks, we get an orchestral arrangement of the boss battle theme before the regular one. Why, you ask? Duh, just read what I said in the review above. If that plays RIGHT BEFORE a match, then when can this one be played? During the wolf vs. wolf battles. See, it's no rocket science. You'd be screwed if it were, though. Anyway, the beginning of the track consists only of strings, to then be joined later on by some low winds. The intro ends at about 0:30, but the actual melody only begins at like 0:42. But it's great, because those sections in between serve for tension-purposes only. You're expecting the battle music to begin, and it does, so move on. The strings carry the melody and at 1:07, which is when the fantastic part begins, you'll get this adrenaline rush, much like it happened in Final Fantasy VII, when you used a Limit Break during a specific part of "Fighting." Oh, God, just listen to that violin at 1:25. That whole section, from 1:07 to 1:37 is pure awesomeness on a stick, thanks to violins and snare drums. I can't express it in words, so you just have to listen to it to see what I mean. (10/10)

17) OohLaLa! - Long Version -

If my brain cells are still working correctly, this track is played in Florence (that's in Italy, dummy), when this hot dancer Lucia is flaunting herself, because that's the way they do fortunetelling there. Crazy folks. While in the game the track is at bearable at best (because of Lucia), outside it's just awful. When I was writing this, I listened to the damn thing once and then switched to the Grand Papillon track, because it's much more awesome, and doesn't make me want to cover my ears in chocolate and eat them. (4/10)

18) The Real Intentions

This track and "Veronica Vera" (track 21) are incredibly similar (I daresay the melody is exactly alike), but both succeed in different areas. "The Real Intentions" is a slower, being more of a melancholic piece, but it fails when it comes to being fun to listen to. The same thing over and over again can get grating. The suspended strings are there, while the piano, a harp, some percussion, and a wind instrument is used to make it slow and sad. I've seen that kinda thing before, and I don't want to see it repeatedly. (6/10)

19) Glint of Light

Now we get the actual boss battle theme. It's a bit, well, different, from the previous version, relying on the same things we expect from Silent Hill's battle themes: an awesome percussion part (check); some freaky stuff going on (check (listen to the background with headphones on and you'll see)); a simple melody, if any (check); and electronic stuff, and lots of it (check). My only problem with it is that I don't like it that much. It just doesn't click with me, even though it's terrifying the way I like it, and it works wonders in the game. Yeah, I'm special like that. (7.5/10)

20) Crack Your Body

Like "Vicious 1915" had its berserk version, so does this one. And sweet Jesus, it's awful. It's like Fukuda sat down, closed his eyes and started to select stuff at random. Maybe he made it this way to keep players alert of the characters' SP or something, but I wouldn't want to listen to it more than once. (2/10)

21) Veronica Vera

Now we're talking. Instead of being boring like "The Real Intentions," "Veronica Vera" instills fear in the player, by appropriately using piano and a scary female choir. To make it even cooler, percussion joins in at 1:01 (as opposed to being used sporadically, like it was used up to this point in the track) and even though we only get some real development at like 1:28, it's a really good track. It could've finished a bit better (that ending is awful; it's just a loud beat), but I still like it. Plus this Veronica character is cool. (8/10)

22) Callback from Jesus - Mysterious Monastery -

This was one of my favorite tracks from the Shadow Hearts Original Soundtrack, so I'm glad Hirota decided to re-use it. But instead of simply copying it and making small adjustments, he really improved the track. For starters, the melody is much more prominent this time around, while mystical-sounding noises are in the background. Something that sounds like a xylophone plays the intro, and then a wind instrument comes in and grabs the melody. Pay attention to 0:58, because it's awesome. It sounds less playful, and more serious than the rest of the track, to remind you that you must fool around. After that, at 1:12, the piano plays the main melody before giving it back to whatever wind instrument that is. Hirota sure likes to use winds for mystery, eh? (9/10)

23) Holy Mistletoe

The item in the track name is a cursed artifact, used in the main character, Yuri. Anyway, this piece sounds awfully bad. While it captures the mysterious and dangerous essence of the Mistletoe, aurally it's not pleasing. Actually, that was a pretty cool idea, because the piece makes you feel as bad as Yuri. Once again, it's ambient, which means piano + strings. But instead of a wind instrument, we get wind, literally. The last 42 seconds is just this sinister sounding wind melody. Creepy. (6/10)

24) Take Off!

At first, this track sounds weird because of the off-beats, but when you think it's going to get awesome, it turns into this awful electronic cacophony that doesn't really go anywhere, and just keeps repeating the intro motif. At 0:35 it gets really electronic, and really bad. However, it is only for a short while, because then everything loops and by then you'll have changed to another track already. (3/10)

25) Anastasia

For all of you who know nothing of World History, Anastasia Romanov was the princess of Russia when the Romanov dynasty still ruled. No, her father wasn't the king, he was the Tsar, stupid. And yes, she's in the game. Her theme is pretty innocent-sounding, with a music box, some strings, and another wind instrument I can't really define. I really like this theme: it doesn't try to be anything other than it should be by being overdeveloped. It's just a simple theme for a spunky princess. (8/10)

26) Relaxation Mood

There's just something wrong with this track: if you want something to be relaxing, you can't use the strings the same way you use for ambience. The flute is OK, in that it's kind of relaxing, but the rest is just annoying. Thank God it's only a minute long. (5/10)

27) Anastasia - Going Her Way

This track is played when you're in the Tsar's mansion. If you can't tell by the name, it's an arrangement of "Anastasia," and it's very playful, which is good, because when you first listen to it, you're controlling only Anastasia, so it gives you an idea of her spunkiness and playfulness. Instead of the music box, Ito decides to use a flute for the main melody, and have all kinds of supporting instruments, like guitar, percussion, and even an accordion. But fear not, music box fans; something that sounds like one plays the theme from 1:12 to 1:20, before giving the theme back to the flute. Overall, it's a nice track to chill out to. (8.5/10)

28) Spiritualization ~ Holy Land of God

Don't let the classic ambient beginning (suspended strings and piano) fool you. This is one heck of a mysterious track. Although it's a setup we've all now grown accustomed to, the appearance of the xylophone is unusual. Its purpose is mainly as a support instrument, but the echo created is cool, and it's a nice complement to the piano and strings. The percussion, appearing at 1:50, drives the track home. It's a nice beat, and a good way to return to the beginning (after the intro) without being boring. A great dungeon theme. (8/10)

29) Sadness Mood

Even though the beginning of the track, with the winds and all, is pretty nifty, there is no way I can criticize the violin that appears later on in conjunction with the piano. This is because piano and violin is the best 2-instrument combo ever. You can do so much with the ensemble, it's untrue. Anyway, what can I say? It's sad, and it's short. Is it good? Yeah. Would I listen to it repeatedly? Nah. The piano is nice, and the violin is great, but it's too short. (6/10)

30) Never Ending Sadness

I would say this is a sad track, like "Sadness Mood." It's more somber than sad, howver. It reminds me a lot of a favorite of mine, "Broken Memory," from the Soukaigi Original Soundtrack. Both are marvelous string quartets, full of emotions. Although I think, in comparison with the aforementioned piece, this one is quite simple and not as endearing, it's still worth listening to. (7/10)

31) Defeat and Death

If it were a piano solo piece, it would have been great. But no, it needs to have some weird stuff going on in the background. To be honest, the choir is pretty cool, but the rest is just annoying. After 1:49, the piano leaves, and all we get is some weird sounds, like there is some kind of static, and the choir. Thank God the piano comes back later, but the static sound doesn't go away. If you manage to keep on listening, some percussion joins in at 2:31, but what's the difference? The static piece of rubbish is still in the way of everything else. Although Hirota uses a diminuendo on it, that damn thing stays there bothering us until 3:46, when the piece is reduced to only piano and percussion. Soon after, it ends, and we're still left wondering what the hell was that sound. (5/10)

32) Rasputin

Dude, if you want to know all this stuff about Russia, just watch the cartoon "Anastasia". I'm not going to sit here and explain everything. All you need to know is that Rasputin is evil (like I needed to tell you that after you listened to this track). It begins with some strings, percussion, and electronic sounds, which are joined soon after by an all-male choir, which is awesome, because it really gives you an evil, mysterious feeling. Too bad the piece is basically that: choir, strings, and electronic stuff being annoying. A harp appears later on to try and give some variety to "Rasputin." As if all the blandness wasn't enough, we get some electronic-only segment before the choir shows up again. That's the only good thing. Well, that and the harp. And, ummm, I did not watch "Anastasia". I merely know that. (7/10)

33) Evil Gate Opener I

It starts with some wicked cool choir, sounding all evil and ominous, and something really low-pitched joins in a bit later, with some percussion. At the 0:41 mark, all hell breaks loose, and we get some weird beats. It stays that way until the end, where what seems to be a chromatic scale played on the violin ends the track. (6/10)

34) Evil Gate Opener II

This track begins as a weird mix or rock and Arabic stuff, with some really creepy voices in the background, with more hell breaking loose. Then the guitar goes away, and the percussion gets some time by itself, before the piano appears briefly. Those creepy, scary voices also make a comeback to haunt me. It's really late at night, and I don't feel like listening to a bunch of scary female voices. (7/10)

35) Evil Gate Opener III ~ Arrival at the Stronghold III

This one is easily my favorite of the three "Evil Gate Opener" tracks. It begins with some strings, then it gets kinda scary, because Hirota manipulates the strings in a creepy way, with some sort of ascending sounds. The percussion is awesome, those little string segments are great, and the piano that joins soon after is fantastic. After all that almost epic awesomeness, some slow, boring suspended strings, and percussion end the track. Not a fitting end, but the middle more than makes up for it. (8/10)

Disc Two

1) Pulsation Fortress

What a lame way to begin Disc Two! A track that tries to be spooky, but fails because it's not long enough. When you think it's going to go somewhere, it ends. The electronic beat is not bad at all, and the wind-like sound is kinda creepy, but what can you do in 19 seconds? (4/10)

2) Strain

Now we get another track with a cool beat, weird female voices, and strange noises. At 0:42, it changes to another nifty beat, this time without the voices, but they appear again at 0:54. At 1:06 it changes again, to a more aggressive beat, but with the same voices again. At 1:23, an even more aggressive beat, with still the same voices. The woman wailing is not boring, but the exact same thing is repeated so many times it starts to be infuriating. (7/10)

3) Astaroth

Let's get something straight here: I hate Mitsuda's battle themes; apart from "Battle 1" from the Chrono Trigger Original Sound Version and "Last Battle" from the Xenosaga Original Soundtrack, I can't stand listening to his stuff. Pieces like "One Who Bears Fangs At God" is a sleep-inducing 6 minute long drug. With that said, I love "Astaroth." Though it may not sound like a battle theme, it is, and its an awesome one at that. It begins in kind of the same way "One..." does, but then some dude appears and starts mumbling stuff I don't understand (try to sing along anyway!). The instrumentation is very basic: a harp, winds, some percussion, strings, and the mumbling dude. To give you an idea of its in-game purpose, it's played during a fight with Astaroth, one of these 3 really powerful demigods, and it WILL get your attention, as it did mine. It's strangely fitting, and weirdly good for Mitsuda. Go, mumbling dude, GO! (10/10)

4) Crack Your Mind

Great! This is the berserk version of "Astaroth." Why do I even bother listening to these tracks? This one's got a nice little melody in the background. That is, until 0:36, when it gets insanely boring. Oh, God, I'm going to listen to "Astaroth," as I can't stand this one. (2/10)

5) Grey Memories

Hey. Guess what? You're in Japan now, and this plays in the Japanese map. It's a lot darker than "Old Smudged Map," and tries to convey a different feeling: one of desperation. You're looking for a person, trying to stop him or her from doing something you're not sure of yet. Like its European counterpart, it's very well-developed, but the instrumentation is a bit annoying. It doesn't change ever, and it's just strings and a low-pitched gong all the way through. (8/10)

6) Rising Sun

Like "Grey Memories" is to "Old Smudged Map," "Rising Sun" is to "Twilight Street." Piano, percussion, and a Japanese flute give it a Japanese feeling. You're in Yokohama, so what can you expect? An accordion? There are some strings as well, but those are mainly background instruments. The stuff I mentioned before are the real deal. Anyway, it's a pretty little melody with some nice development that fits perfectly with the location it's played in. (9/10)

7) Deep in Coma

And now we get to the Japanese battle theme. "Deep in Coma" is very similar to "Vicious 1915," with its slow beginning with percussion, and the need to take at least 12 seconds to start being battle-like. It's a bit more fast-paced than its European brother, and the choir is louder and more prominent. Pay attention to the horns in the background at 1:50; they could be a little louder, but there's some great stuff there nonetheless. A problem I see with this track is that it's not as varied as "Vicious 1915," and that really hurts it; because it's a battle theme, you expect some variety. Maybe it's the lack of piano, maybe it's not. All in all, though still a good battle theme, it has some minor flaws. (8/10)

8) Concon Ticktin Con Ticktin

What... the... hell? Like the piece itself it not bizarre enough, we get a name like this. What gives, Hirota? This one is not as unbearable as the others, because it stays in familiar territory with the choir and overall feel. But it's still a nice warning to watch out for those damned SP during battles. (5/10)

9) Gathering God

Here I go again with my bizarre taste in music. This track is played when we find Joachim a new weapon lying around, like a locker, a mailbox, a huge tunafish, and other weird stuff. Joachim is awesome; just look at his weapons. I think this theme perfectly captures that moment, with its quirkiness and playfulness. Those weird "boing" noises in the background, the accordion, and whatever's playing the melody work great together, especially when the accordion plays the melody near the end. (9/10)

10) Impatiently Mood

I don't see why someone would be in such a mood. What we get here is a lovely piano and violin combo (another one, look at that), with a melody that starts off in a kind of a sad way, but gets more mysterious at 0:46. The chord there was really well-used, because it really gives you a sense of mystery somehow. There's not a lot to say about this track, because it's only 1:06 long, so I'd consider it an average track that is neither good nor bad. (6/10)

11) Serious Mood

Now THIS is a mysterious track. Kobayashi uses a string quartet wonderfully to create an aura of mystery, especially with the lower-pitched strings. I dare you not to have chills running down your spine at 1:03, when the high-pitched strings come out of nowhere and steal the show. This is not a track I would just ordinarily listen to, but I must say it grew on me quite quickly. (7.5/10)

12) The Past

Mitsuda just blew my mind here. Seriously. At first I thought Hirota was responsible for this, but then I checked the track listings and I was like "Whoa." Yeah, like Neo. "Past" is a very somber piece, which tricks you into thinking it's a happy track with the piano and flute in the beginning. Just wail until the violin appears and kicks it all the way to Awesomeville. If that weren't enough, we get some mood-setting timpani beats with piano chords and the flute appears again. At 1:14, the track changes to what I can only describe as a climax, because you feel like it's accomplished something and that something is complete. And then when you think it's over and ready to loop, Mitsuda throws in an awesome piano solo section, so now the piece can loop effectively. (9.5/10)

13) Crisis

Oh man, I hate this one. It's the "hurry" track every RPG seems to have, and one that always sounds, ironically, rushed, because they're nearly all annoying. This one is no exception. There isn't one thing I like in this piece. The percussion is bad, the melody is awful, and the overall product ends up being very grating with repeated listens, both in the game and out. Avoid at all costs. (3/10)

14) Hatred

Oh, God! No! Not another ambient track that is exactly alike the other ones, with suspended strings, piano, and some percussion. It gets radically different at 1:33, as a brass instrument and a cymbal crash lead to some crazy beats and more suspended strings. And when you think it's going somewhere, BAM, it's back to piano. To top it off, the ending is imply awful, and is just some beats. Now I know why it's called "Hatred." (5/10)

15) Village of the Dog God

You must be thinking "Wow, what a clever play on words! "God" is "dog" backwards! Mitsuda is a genius!" Well, no. This track is played in the Inugami Village, where they worship dogs. It's one of my favorite pieces from the entire album, because it's so relaxing. And it's for solo piano, which is even more impressive, because it's not easy writing for piano without any other accompaniment, but Mitsuda sure did a great job. (10/10)

16) Saintly Demon Fountain I

This is a rather mystical track, with some Indian flutes giving the idea of spirits and stuff like that. And it's a perfect fit in-game: it's played when someone is explaining to the party some stuff (can't spoil it, can I?) around this mystical waterfall. It gets a great mark for in-game use, but outside it's not as effective. (7/10)

17) Saintly Demon Fountain II

This is a direct continuation of the previous track, but it's a lot wilder, like there's something wrong. It stays really aggressive for about a minute, then when you think things are going to cool off, the piece changes direction to a more evocative one, with choirs, and banging percussion beats. But everyone knows calm = boring, so it gets crazy once again at 2:25, and stays that way until the end. If you can ignore the fact that its beginning depends on another track, you can listen to it just fine. (8/10)

18) Hardcore to the Brain

Now we're talking again! The Japanese boss battle theme is friggin' awesome. It gets you pumped up right from the start, with some weird voices and kickass beats. And although the melody only begins at like 0:55, you can't stop listening to it in anticipation of what'll happen. It's an exciting track, and is way better than "Glint of Light." I daresay it takes an acquired taste to appreciate such bizarre things in battle themes, but try to keep an open mind, and you'll be able to hear a lot more. (9/10)

19) Getting Nasty

Yay! Another berserk version of a battle theme. The only thing that doesn't completely suck on this piece is the awesome percussion, which is extremely aggressive. I just ignore everything else and focus only on the percussion. (4/10)

20) Faith or Fate

Brass, piano, and strings set their differences aside and work together on this fantastic piece of music that manages to capture the feeling of sadness perfectly. You can think of the title this way: do you believe you need to do it or do you know you must do it? Used in the latest part of the game, it begins as a militaristic theme, because of the brass, but when the piano and strings join in, it gets a whole different meaning. Oh, and just listen to the part at 0:56. It's tear jerking, but not to me, because I am a man's man. Yeah, that's right. This is a fantastic track, all around, so listen to it now and thank me later. (9.5/10)

21) Transience

Ignore the first 54 seconds of this piece; they're pure boredom. There's some piano and brass in there, but the strings just ruin everything. Focus on the awesome piano and choir part that soon follows it before those dreaded strings come back! Too late. OK, now skip to 1:36, which is when it gets cool again, and stays nice throughout. Meh, not something I'd listen to again and again. (6.5/10)

22) ALICE - piano arrangement

Even though it's a very pretty arrangement, it doesn't even begin to capture the beauty and depth of the original "ALICE." This is a shame, because it had a lot of potential. It just feels too repetitive sometimes, and is next to nothing when compared to Shadow Hearts' "ALICE". (6/10)

23) Kallen

This piece is absolutely gorgeous. Remember way back when when I said piano and violin was an awesome combo? Well, there you have it. "Kallen" begins rather simply on the piano, playing a sad melody, until the violin comes along and makes it a lot more emotional. I can't explain it, but violins have that power. This piece is a reflection on Karin's character, and her love for Yuri. In fact, the violin gives it a more hopeful feel to the track, because what's love without hope. (10/10)

24) The Fate ~ Cluster Amaryllis

OK, you better sit down now, because this much awesomeness in one track can kill you. For those of you unlucky enough to have never played the game, the scene where this is played is the epitome of "Wow, that is awesome!", because whenever I'm talking about Shadow Hearts 2, this is one of the first things that come to mind. First things first, it begins with a guitar and some other accompaniment I can't quite identify. It's got a rather sad beginning, and the cool stuff only begins at about 0:27, when a woman starts to chant, accompanied by the guitar. It's a pretty sad chant, isn't it? Well, it should be, as what's going on is pretty sad.

We get some development at 0:55, which is purely instrumental, where Hirota shows what he's made out of. That could not have made less sense. Anyway, at 1:06, the woman comes back, but now there's a violin in there as well! The part that begins at 1:34 and goes on until 2:00 merely serves to get you to rest, because something that is beyond awesome is coming! From 2:01 to 2:29, one of the best things you will hear in your lifetime comes in: some percussion joins in, because the violin wasn't kicking enough ass, and the chanting reaches its maximum power. OK, just for the sake of the non-players out there, just imagine the sentence "Because it's my destiny!" said right before that bit. It gives the piece a whole new meaning, doesn't it?

So, after it, we are treated to a slower part so we can recover. But at 2:55, we get some more fantastic violin and percussion bits. I have some suspicion that there is an actual person playing the violin, but if not, Hirota is a friggin' genius. From 3:22 to 3:35, guitar and percussion lead us back to some chanting, that lasts all the way until the anti-climatic ending. But I don't care. It's a masterpiece and those who disagree are wrong. (10+/10)

25) The 3 Karma

What could be better than a piece created by the cooperation of Hirota, Mitsuda, and Ito? I don't know, but "The 3 Karma" is fantastic. It begins somewhat slowly, with an organ playing some chords to build up the piece. Then, at 0:16, percussion joins in to give it some rhythm. At 0:30, the track really begins, with some percussion beats and then something playing the melody, accompanied by some bells. At 0:58, a freaky male chanting appears and it is awesome, because, like in "Astaroth," you don't know what the hell's saying, but you still want to sing along. Fine, maybe that's just me, but whatever.

At 1:33, a piano gets the spotlight, sharing the scene with the same percussion that appeared at 0:16. It lasts until 1:46, which is when the beats go from "slow" to "awesome" and strings are playing the melody. It's amazing how much new things are going on, yet the focus is never lost. You'll never go "Huh, what?" when listening to it. At 2:43, some bells join the strings before they get their own part at 2:55, with some weird static noises and percussion. At 3:03, some more percussion is added before the piano comes in again and the bells leave. Piano, percussion and bass leads us to the best part of this piece, which is at 3:37. Instead of the freaky male chanting, there is now a creepy female chant as well, all accompanied by some weird percussion beats.

At 3:58, the piano gets the melody, while a female choir stands all the way at the back, and the percussion gets funky. 4:06 is the last of the organ we'll be hearing, because the bells soon appear and take over. But since the piano is better than everything else, it ends this wonderful battle theme by itself, with some simple chords. And, just like in "The Fate ~ Cluster Amaryllis," it suffers from another anti-climatic that nearly ruins a fantastic piece. (10/10)

26) Come on

This is actually not bad at all. It hardly sounds as rough as the other berserk themes, making it quite listenable. It starts with some quick beats, which are soon joined by piano, and then by weird male chanting heard in "The 3 Karma," which just keeps being repeated over and over again. At 0:46, the chant says bye-bye, and we're left with piano and percussion, which gets some great development at 1:03, as the track surprisingly slow downs a bit. Then, at 1:10, the chanting comes and goes twice, leaving us with nothing but percussion and an organ. That is, until 1:41. Then, the chanting leaves again, and we get a small section of percussion and organ to end the piece before it loops. While comparing it to "The 3 Karma" would make it sound really sucky, it's the stand-out of all berserk themes. (8/10)

27) Result

Well, it's the standard fanfare theme you hear every now and then when you finish a battle. After a rather strong beginning, with the whole nine yards (you know, brass, percussion, the idea of grandeur), we are treated to what can only be described as some beats and a bass, and something that sounds like coins, to give you an impression of how much moolah you're making slaughtering monsters. Like most fanfare themes, this one works great in-game, but when outside of any context, it's not as good. Plus, with that weak development, I don't think anyone would want to listen to it for no apparent reason, unlike, let's say, umm, "His Name is Grand Papillon!!". (6/10)

28) ICARO - piano arrangement

Remember "ICARO" from "ICARO AGAIN"? Well, it's back, and in piano solo form. Duh, like you couldn't tell from the title. You can instantly recognize the theme right when the track begins, assuming you heard "ICARO" or "ICARO AGAIN." I like the way it develops, though at 0:41, it's a bit weird, because the left-hand plays a rhythm that is more akin to a peppier piece, so to speak, because it's a bit too rhythmic for me. But by the time it reaches 1:14, which is when the right hand gets some more development, you won't even mind the bass, for the melody gets a bit livelier as well.

At 1:31, the tempo slows down a bit, and we get a transition back to the "ICARO" theme. I really like the part just before the second theme (the one from 0:41) is repeated. It's so great. Like I said, the second theme returns, but alas, it's different. No longer is the left hand too rhythmic for me, but I feel the right hand gets a bit more dramatic, with more expression. OK, OK, listen closely to the 2:00 bit. You recognize it? Sure you do; you just heard it a while back in "Kallen." Awesome stuff there: it's the bit played in 1:20, if you must know.

After this, we get yet another version of the second theme, and that theme will remain in the spotlight until the end, sporting a few different versions and whatnot. At 2:35, we get another visit from "Kallen" and at 2:57, the last of that darn second theme, in a much more peaceful way. Overall, it's a very nice track, and if you can stand the high number of repetitions of the same theme, you'll be fine. (8/10)


You know when you're listening to a track, and you think to yourself "Man, I wonder how it would be if there was a song based on this."? If you caught yourself thinking that while listening to "Kallen," wonder no more! If "GETSURENKA" is not identical to the melody of the astounding piano and violin combo, then it's loosely based on it. It begins with the "ICARO" theme on piano, and then it's joined by guitar, some percussion, and a violin.

At 0:29, Mio Isayama blesses us with her beautiful voice, and you might not notice the resemblance to "Kallen," because, you know, not everyone is a gifted musician like me, right? However, at 1:20, there's no denying that it is based on aforementioned piece. I bet you're like "Oh, wow" right now. I don't blame you. If you've played the game, this song has even more significance. Anyway, there is a small interlude from 2:20 to 2:50, where Mio's wonderful voice rests up a bit, so she lets the other instruments have a go at it. After another sung section, the violin shines for some time, with the rest backing it up. Fortunately, in case you were missing Mio, she returns shortly thereafter.

The song's ending is exactly like "Kallen", and then it borrows "ICARO" once more. The ending being like the beginning holds special significance if you've played the game, so the song could not be more perfect. Before I noticed the similarities with "Kallen", I was going to give this song a 9, because it's nice and all. But now that I've fully understood its purpose and everything, it will get the highest rating I have ever given a song before. (10+/10)


While not as original as the previous Shadow Hearts Original Soundtrack, the Shadow Hearts II Original Soundtrack is still one of the best around. The composers work wonderfully together and it shows. Hirota is as great as ever, with themes like "Kallen," which shows his more emotional side, "Vicious 1915," an extremely good battle theme, and "The Fate," a masterpiece. I cannot stress how much I wait for the Shadow Hearts III Original Soundtrack, which will be released in August 2005.

Mitsuda. Oh, my, Mitsuda. While I have been very disappointed with some of his post-Chrono Trigger works (like Chrono Cross, and Xenogears), his tracks in this album are fantastic. "Village of the Dog God," "Past," and "Old Smudged Map" are beautiful. I didn't know much about Ito when I listened to this soundtrack, but I really liked his stuff. "His Name is Grand Papillon!" is awesome, "Grey Memories" is fantastic, and "Glint of Light - orchestral arrangement" kicks all shades of ass. If you're tired of the usual RPG soundtrack, get this, and get it now. I guarantee you won't be disappointed.

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