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Digital Devil Saga: Avatar Tuner 1 & 2 OST: Integral

[back cover]
Catalog Number: VGCD-0021
Released On: December 22, 2005
Composed By: Shoji Meguro, Kenichi Tsuchiya (disc 1 tracks 12, 13, 20, 26, 27)
Arranged By: N/A
Published By: Five Records
Recorded At: Unknown
Format: 4 CDs
Tracklist:

D.D.S.1


Disc One
01 - Pray
02 - Chaos
03 - Tribal War
04 - Seraphita
05 - Embryon
06 - Assignment
07 - Muladhara
08 - Svadhisthana
09 - Hideout Of The Chickens
10 - Sahasrara
11 - The Junkyard
12 - Arms
13 - Karma Terminal
14 - Atma
15 - Be Fed Up
16 - Burning Stake
17 - Hunger
18 - Manipura
19 - Anahata
20 - Point136
21 - Pray -Sera's Prayer-
22 - Eat Them All
23 - Operation
24 - Sonic Wave
25 - What's Your Name
26 - Steel Coffin
27 - Steel Coffin - The Second Movement
28 - River Of Samsara
29 - River Of Samsara - The Second Movement
30 - Sweet Home
31 - Solar Eclipse
32 - Asura
33 - Aurora
34 - Feint
35 - Too Late
36 - Spider's String
37 - Spider's String - The Second Movement
38 - Ajna
39 - Hunting Field
40 - Hunting Field - The Second Movement
Total Time:
60'54"

Disc Two
01 - Pray -A Cappella Version-
02 - Meow Meow
03 - Fire Ball
04 - Meat Ball
05 - Comrades
06 - Seismic Wave
07 - Man's Tomb
08 - Man's Tomb - The Second Movement
09 - Blade
10 - Mantra
11 - Never Ending Rain
12 - Level Up
13 - Silver Fox
14 - What Is It To Live A Life
15 - Brutish
16 - Wolf's Pride
17 - Daydream
18 - Hunting
19 - Hunting - Surprise Raid
20 - Hunting – Compulsion
21 - Hunting - Comrades
22 - Hunting - Rare Devil
23 - Relief
24 - Big Battle - Prelude
25 - Big Battle
26 - Samsara
27 - Pray -Instrumental Version-
28 - Lava Flow
29 - Turbulence
30 - Techno Shaman
31 - Maelstrom
32 - Watercrown
33 - Hari-Hara
34 - Hari-Hara - The Second Movement
35 - Surely, Once Again...
36 - The Rain Stopped
Total Time:
59'13"

D.D.S.2


Disc Three
01 - Alive
02 - Om Mani Padme Hm
03 - The Atonement
04 - The End Of The Junkyard
05 - Hide Out
06 - Amaravati
07 - Man Hunting
08 - Road To Sodom
09 - Road To Sodom - The Second Movement
10 - Recollection
11 - Coercion
12 - Has The Love Inside You Died?
13 - Betrayer
14 - Meeeeaaaat! Processing Plant
15 - Prisoner's Nightmare
16 - Underground City
17 - Urban Area
18 - Scheme Of Betrayal
19 - Inherent Will
20 - Tribhvana
21 - Heat
22 - Power Plant Dome
23 - Tower Of Reunion
24 - Egg Of The Universe
25 - Angel
26 - Defeat
27 - Scream
28 - This Isn't Very Interesting Either
29 - Mad Mart
30 - Karma Terminal
31 - Mantra
Total Time:
58'58"

Disc Four
01 - Indra
02 - Karma
03 - Meghnada
04 - What Is It To Live A Life
05 - Schrodinger
06 - Battle For Survival
07 - Madness
08 - Hunting
09 - Heroic Battle
10 - Relief
11 - Level Up
12 - Memory
13 - Let Him Go
14 - No Regret
15 - Regret
16 - Five Years Before
17 - Rest In Peace, My Friend
18 - One-Way Stairs
19 - Nirvana
20 - To The Sun
21 - Seraph
22 - Big Battle
23 - Epic Battle - Prelude
24 - Epic Battle
25 - Brahman
26 - Entreaty
27 - One Word
28 - The Rising Sun
29 - Om Mani Padme Hm -Staff Roll Arrange-
Total Time:
62'01"

Real quick - Disc 1 and 2 = Great. Disc 3 and 4 = WHOOOOAAA

Digital Devil Saga.

Out of nowhere, we get this incredible tale from Atlus. A story of Serph and his friends, it's unique, touching, haunting and epic on a hundred levels. Part of that can be attributed to a certain Shoji Meguro. Man, this guy is awesome. He’s an accomplished musician, having written the excellent Persona and Soul Hackers soundtracks, as well as the more recent Nocturne.

But I would argue that Digital Devil Saga is his greatest work yet. Breaking off the shackles of hardware synth, his style has flourished. He is a self-admitted rocker, but he's grown outside of his own genre and created an insane hybrid of rock, techno, breakbeat and orchestral, all with a very frantic and claustrophobic feel. This doesn't sound like someone who's branching out and trying new things...it sounds like Mr. Meguro has secretly been concocting this music in his secret lab for years and years, fine tuning every little strand, until finally unleashing his perfect product.

"Integral" is the name of this massive, four-disc OST. Containing every single song from both parts 1 and 2, nothing was left out. Beginning from disc 1, the tracklist generally moves along how it would with the story, with only a few tracks out of order. The battle themes are collected in two or three long strands, and while that might seem odd, it makes for thrilling, intense listening. (We'll talk about that later).

"Pray" kicks off the first disc. An arranged vocal of Sera's song, this was only in the Japanese edition. We got "Danger" by Etro Anime instead, which, while a nice song, is exclusive to the Western version, so it's not on this set.

"Hideout of the Chickens" is one of the many area themes. Very reminiscent of his older work, the song is a rich combo of sweet, silky jazz sensibilities and steady rock. Many of the area themes also feature two movements. Sometimes they are totally different from each other, as is the case with the smooth, Soukaigi-esque "The River of Samsara" and its odd second movement. Other times the second theme is a faster or more intense version of the first, like "Man's Tomb."

The soundtrack as also contains all the short movie scene music, which, though short, are just as well made as the longer songs. The hunting song, "Blade", is an awesome, frantic rock tune, and "Never Ending Rain" is strikingly beautiful. Also of note are all the characters themes, listed by their Atma, such the hero Serph's tragic-sounding theme "Watercrown" and Argilla's "Seismic Wave." Round it out with "Hari-Hara," a fantastic battle tune. Starting with a very mellow and sad sounding guitar/piano intro, it moves into full jam session style rock. The second movement adds in an orchestra for a fitting final conclusion to DDS1.

And now, the fun part. It's time for disc 3 and 4, the music from DDS2. This is what I meant by Meguro fine-tuning songs in his basement for ages. There is a HUGE, very sudden change in music from the second you start DDS2. I have a feeling this was partially to emphasize the extreme difference between the two halves of the story, but whatever happened, it was good. We move from the depressing, rainy rock and jazz of the Junkyard to a very strange new world, filled with a bizarre, haunting, melodic and wonderful electronica. You're instantly hit with a pop-techno slap in the face (I mean that in a good way.) "Alive" is an excellent, energetic vocal, with flawless singing, guitar solos, and a solid dance beat. "The Atonement" is a very lovely, but very oppressive orchestral title theme.

Like most of this music, "Amaravati" isn't the kind of techno you dance to. This is strange, new, cold music, but it's so groovy too! "Man Hunting" is similar, but much slower and deliberate. Rife with thick, chunky saw tooth basses, leads and pads, an extremely tight and articulate beat and plenty of guitar. And you know a song has to be good when it's called "Meeeeaaaat!" In the story the music is intensely creepy, but on its own it still does well. The songs' counterpart, "Prisoner's Nightmare" is equally frightening, but in a "CRAP!! PANIC!!!!" kind of way, thanks to throwing a many more layers of percussion and lots of guitar on top of an already panicked song.

Ok, ok, ok, ok, here's the best part!! BATTLE TUNES!

Digital Devil Saga 101:

"Battle for Survival"
"Madness"
"Hunting"
"Heroic Battle"
"Big Battle"
"Epic Battle"
"Brahman"

+

"Relief"
"Level Up"
________________
WHOA MOMMY

I don't even need to think about it. These songs are the *best* battle themes I have ever heard. I have heard every Final Fantasy, every Dragon Quest. I have heard your Konami Battle Shooting Perfect Motoaki Club, I have heard (and loved) Endless Neo Disco Mix Classic '89 Falcom Supreme Ys Box Meets Dave Matthews. But this is good. In my strange little mind, Ryo Yonemitsu and Sound Team JDK teaming up to make Ys IV's music was musically the best thing that ever happened, but I do not pause to say these tunes may have trumped that.

More? OK. "Battle for Survival" is the regular battle tunage. From the second the first riff hits, the song will not let up for even a fraction of a second. Layers and layers of fresh, crisp percussion, synth and guitar, all put together so tightly and cleanly in a beautiful package. A very strong melody throughout the song, and a haunting, wistful synth around the one minute mark complete the picture.

But then it got better! "Madness." Beginning with some wild synth, the guitar wails around for a bit until the soft piano comes along, floating over the frenzied breakbeats. The main chorus breaks out at 0:45, and I just can't get enough of it. Despite being in an insanely fast battle song, the melody is beautiful and even romantic; it's obvious what Meguro meant when he said he 'waits for God to send music down to him.'

"Heroic," "Big," and "Epic" are all along the same lines - a furious, fiery mixture of heavy rock, blistering electronica and blazing, shimmering synth pushing along these bold, exciting, uplifting, even fun, melody lines. "Brahman" goes even higher, beginning with an epic synth/orchestral intro, which leads right into the techno madness that follows. There is a slight sound of relief around 1:05 with the gentle piano, and then the sad, hopeful main melody, all still being forced along by a masterful techno beat and a lot of soul. A perfect final confrontation. It's brilliant.

I can't forget the victory theme, and "Relief" is about as unconventional and freakin' awesome as one can hope for. More of that thick, thick, thick synth. The bass drum plods along the beat like some kind of twisted victory march (a "We're done with you, who's next?" kind of thing).

I know I shouldn't just sit here and rattle off individual track names, but I can't help myself. The jazzy "Road to Sodom" tracks, the hopeful "What is it to Live a Life", the claustrophobic and frenetic "Rest in Peace, My Friend", the sorrowful and relaxing "Karma Terminal," the last minute rush and desperate, sinking feeling of "One-Way Stairs" - it's all just too good.

The packaging is nice, with notes from the composer, a full tracklist, and a bit of artwork. Each disc has one of the character’s Atma symbols, and the entire package is covered with a cool hex pattern.

Shoji Meguro has created his finest work yet - a soundtrack that is not just long, but full of excellent music. The music is completely out of the ordinary, not only for him, but for a game, for a movie, for anything. But instead of sounding like an experiment, out came a masterpiece of rock, techno, orchestral, and most of all, emotion.

Reviewed by: Connary



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