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Monarch: Heroes of a New Age OST

[back cover]
Catalog Number: SMRC-1001
Released On: February 17, 2014
Composed By: Goomin "Nauts" Nam
Arranged By: Goomin "Nauts" Nam
Published By: Scarlet Moon Records
Recorded at: Studio U
Format: 1 CD, Digital
Buy this album from Loudr
Tracklist:

01 - Theme of Monarch
02 - A Land Without a King
03 - Glorious Capital, Nineveh
04 - Nasca Grasslands
05 - Flurry of Blades
06 - Wandering Woods
07 - Peaceful Macdallena
08 - Forging Tension
09 - Orcish Camp
10 - Show Your Might!
11 - Red Gate
12 - Vanity
13 - Seaside Village
14 - Lake of Oblivion
15 - Forgotten Archduchess
16 - Tomb of Sovereigns
17 - To Wear the Crown
18 - Bloodlust
19 - Darkest Depths
20 - Dawn of Cablas
21 - Will of the People
22 - Rum
Total Time:
65'23"

In the interest of full disclosure, let me first say that I have been friends with Jayson Napolitano and looked to him as a mentor of sorts for years. Scarlet Moon is Jayson's record label, and he is using it as a vehicle to publish music that otherwise wouldn't see the light of day. So, am I going into this review slightly biased? Admittedly so, but I am still going to judge the music as objectively as I know how to.

Monarch: Heroes of a New Age is a new kind of MMORPG from Maius Games that's currently only available in Korea, and even that version is still in open beta as far as I can tell. The game focuses on large-scale battles with the player controlling either individual heroes or larger units. The style is medieval high fantasy, and the team hired veteran composer Goomin Nam, aka "Nauts," to handle the entire score.

Nauts' previous works include TalesWeaver, Yogurting, and a duo of fantastic iOS visual novel / bar sim games called "Bar Oasis" (1 and 2). As a composer, he is as versatile as can be. Across this 22-track OST we find recorded symphony orchestra, piano solo, synth-heavy pieces, and some jazzy numbers to top it all off.

Compared to recent Korean MMO peers (TERA and Aion come to mind), this soundtrack seems more focused. Nauts came into this project ready to express himself, but also to get the job done.

To that end, we do find a few "filler" tracks, like the vanilla battle theme "Show Your Might!" or the simplistic fanfare "Will of the People." But these less memorable themes are drowned out by the power and wonder of other pieces.

Take, for starters, the opening theme, a titular piece for the game itself. The piano lays out a fast waltz tempo with elegant arpeggios, and after a few measures, a beautiful classic guitar introduces the melodic theme. After the reinforcing echoes of the melody by a string ensemble, we are whisked away to a brilliant and unpredictable B section. As the song builds, the added percussion brings a deep foundation to the experience. This is how you craft a good theme — I love this opener.

Other songs took some time to grow on me. Upon first listen, I didn't take much interest in the piece "Wandering Woods." Upon repeated plays, however, its phrygian modal base and stunning choices in instrumentation won me over. Again, a well-built piece of music.

If piano-centric is what you're looking for, tracks 13 through 15 all provide some beautiful piano work, with accompanying pizzicato strings, harp, and more. These pieces are some of the best on the disc, and perhaps some of Nauts' most outstanding work to date.

And if it all seems a little too serious for you, top it off with a folksy drinking tune, simply titled "Rum." It goes down smooth!

The Monarch OST, as well as its arranged album counterpart, can be found for sale at various outlets. If purchasing via Bandcamp, you can pick up a limited edition physical CD version, or just go digital. Other outlets provide digital-only, such as Loudr. This OST isn't the greatest thing I've heard in my life, but it's a contender for one of my top OSTs in 2014 ... though the year is young! We'll see...

Reviewed by: Patrick Gann



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