Phantom of Inferno is a fantastic visual novel developed by Nitro Plus and localized by the late Hirameki Studios. It was initially released on the PC, but later received a console port. Quite a few exclusive music tracks were added to this console port, and they were a very cool addition. Those exclusive music tracks comprise this soundtrack.
Multiple composers had a hand in this soundtrack's creation. Though each one has a distinct style that keeps the music fresh, the soundtrack as a whole is quite cohesive. The music presented here is punchier and more in-your-face than the more subtle compositions in the original game's OST. Electronica is the order of the day in this soundtrack, and it's the darker, grittier, "listening" type of electronica rather than the "dancing" type. Most of the pieces are mid- or down-tempo and scream "sinister urban underground." The music stands very well on its own, not requiring familiarity with the game for maximum enjoyment.
Hassy's vocal songs on the soundtrack are nicely sung ballads with complex, yet pleasing instrumental compositions. Two of these vocal songs are around 5 minutes long and remain interesting throughout their durations, inviting listeners to play them again to pick out nuances they didn't hear the first time. There are no bubblegum synths or helium vocals here; just good solid jazz fusion songs with hints of R&B and funk. The third song is only half as long and features surprisingly good English vocals over acoustic guitars.
By contrast, the instrumental songs have a darker feel. Murakami's contribution blends simple hooks with layers of modern background sounds. Jinbo's "Star Saloon" takes a more minimalist approach and is a lovely exercise in restraint. It says a lot without excessive verbiage. "Glass City" and "Jam" are more layered and quite punchy, especially the growly bassline in "Glass City." In addition, all the composers tastefully use voice clips in their compositions to add a nice burst of flavor. However, I most enjoy Isoe's use of sung voice loops in his compositions. I also like the contrast between his two pieces: one is big and bold and the other one has more space.
Playing Phantom of Inferno may prove difficult, since Kirameki's folding has left it out of print, and the English language version is based on the PC version which didn't have all this fantastic music. However, that should not stop music fans from checking this soundtrack out, because good music is good music regardless of whether you're a casual or die-hard fan.
Reviewed by: Neal Chandran