There comes a point when we videogame music collectors abandon reason and start to buy impulsively. I continue to follow the Growlanser series because of Urushibara's awesome character designs, and out of hope that the music will somehow be as good as it once was when Iwadare did the score for the first game.
The Growlanser IV Character Song Album was utter crap. Seriously, if a pile of dung gave off sound waves, it would have sounded like that album...or maybe a bit better. So why did I bother with the Growlanser V Original Character Song Album, especially knowing that the same composer wrote these songs? It was either that impulsiveness of which I just spoke, or some irrational hope that this album would be better than its predecessor.
Whatever the case, the fact is that this album is much better. It is exponentially better. On a scale from "worst vocal album ever" to "everyone should buy this album," the Growlanser V Original Character Song Album falls squarely in the "just above mediocre" range. The G4 vocal album, of course, was near the bottom of the scale. Let me explain what makes this album enjoyable.
The opening and ending tracks, performed by the band "Crunchy Brunch," are both excellent. Between the two songs, the ending "Beyond the Wind" is a more heartfelt and serious song, with a decent female vocalist to lead the way. The opening is sung by a male vocalist, and it's more fun and fast-paced.
The first character song proper, "The Door," has an excellent feel to it. The instruments backing this male vocalist are what I enjoyed the most, but the vocals are strong as well.
Moreso than the other tracks, "Lunar Eclipse" sounds like it could have been recorded back in the 1980s. Simple pop melodies are found throughout the album, but again, it's strongly shown on this track.
Track 14, "Fearless," uses a fast, straight 8 beat to accompany a more syncopated melodic line. The instruments cut in and out nicely during the verses to keep the song from becoming too repetitive.
Tracks 16 and 18 are more 80s ballad goodness with male vocalists. I particularly enjoyed the chorus in "Concert Adagio," a chorus which they repeat often throughout the song.
The rest of the songs on the album, I felt, were from the cheesy side of things, more akin to what we heard on Growlanser IV. High-pitched faux-prepubescent-girl vocals are not my cup of tea.
Between pretty much every song is a short drama track to introduce some characters and the next song. Even though I don't know what all is being said, I will say it makes for a nice break between each song. The last album I owned that did this was the Tengai Makyou IV Vocal Selection, which was also an excellent album. Trend, or coincidence? Probably the latter.
If you even bothered to read about this album, it may be worth more of your time and attention...and, consequently, your money too. Even though I paid retail for it, I wouldn't say it's worth the retail price. Look for it used, bargain-bin, or don't look at all. That's my advice for this album; it's an average vocal collection with some catchy songs and nice artwork.
Reviewed by: Patrick Gann