The third Arc the Lad was the last to feature a complete soundtrack from Masahiro Andoh (the PS2 games only list Andoh for having composed the "Arc the Lad Theme"). After proving himself in the first two games, Andoh seems to stretch out his compositional styles to incorporate some new musical ideas. A few of theme bomb, but for the most part, the soundtrack is successful in quest to create some really good stuff.
Turning first to "Alec's Theme" (Alec being the main character of Arc the Lad III), we find a catchy pop-techno theme with some interesting arpeggiated chords from a synthesizer and a majestic melody from the horns. Though I was personally more intrigued by Elc's Theme on Arc the Lad II, this theme song is definitely worthy of the main character.
Making use of the xylophone in track 15, "Decision", Andoh gives us a catchy song in a 5/4 rhythm, demonstrating a knack for using irregular time signatures. There is even a bridge/break in the song that changes to 6 for a few measures before returning to the standard 5/4. These sorts of themes are not only good from a musical standpoint, they are effective as an in-game event theme.
"Battle 3" shows off even more 5/4 action, but this time with a much faster and syncopated rhythm, to the point where the listener struggles to find the rhythm and can only follow the melody. Among the album's battle themes, I think this one was clearly the best, though they all were much better than the battle themes from the previous Arc the Lads in my opinion.
When one album contains 59 tracks, there is little hope of hearing a "smash hit" every time. Some songs need to be simple, atmospheric, and repetitive. We generally refer to this as the "filler" music, but I must say that even the filler songs on this album are decent. Take a listen to track 43 to see what I mean. The song doesn't really go anywhere, and it's not a memorable piece, but for what it is, it is good. Kudos to you, Andoh!
And I cannot fail to mention my new favorite ending theme song. Written by Kanata Asamizu (though this accrediting may only be for the lyrics, as I feel the music still has that "Andoh touch"), "Way to the Earth" is found twice on the album. The English version of Way to the Earth sports some of the worst Engrish lyrics I've ever heard. Allow me to quote what is written for the English version from the CD's insert booklet:
"Since I was born you're by my side
For solong why sorrow you came to see
Now could never ever hide
I'm not afraid any pain
No not afraid of the darkness
Now I'm ready, find my flame
Wouldn't you say open way to a new game"
...wow...if you see some typos, know that those are in the book as such, and are not my doing...
Despite the shoddy translation, there is something about the vocalist's tonality that is unique. I don't know why I like it so much, but the fact is, I simply love this song. I have listened to it over and over. I even prefer the English to the Japanese in this case. I hope you can join me in my love for this strange and beautiful bit of vocal music.
The Arc the Lad III Original Game Soundtrack has two prints from what is basically the same company getting renamed and probably under some form of new management. The second print was released at the same time as reprints for the Arc the Lad Soundtrack Complete, the Arc the Lad Piano Album, and the old Arc the Lad OGS (which is actually an arranged album). If you can find either print, you ought to, especially if you have played the Arc the Lad games and enjoyed the music in that context. I promise you that, as stand-alone music, it is definitely decent VGM, some of the most "classic" PS1 music available.
"Let me go all the way to the earth!"
Reviewed by: Patrick Gann