The DS got Spectral Force Genesis. In turn, the PSP got When These Hands Will Be Stained (Itsuka Kono Te ga Kegareru Toki ni) -Spectral Force Legacy-. But the two projects had two entirely different musicians. Genesis was contracted from a group called "Solidtunes," whereas Legacy has music from Yuki Sugiura and his band Heinrich von Ofterdingen. Sugiura and crew have been working their way into Idea Factory quite quickly in the last two years, starting with graphic adventure titles and now making it as a part of !F's flagship "Spectral" series. Granted he also worked on Spectral Gene, but this is a "Spectral Force" title. So he's certainly working his way up within this company, and he definitely has the musical credentials to get the opportunity.
Now, the album may only be ten tracks, but these are ten long tracks. Why? Most of them are medleys of multiple compositions. The soundtrack breaks the EP/LP barrier (40 minutes) pretty thoroughly. Since there are only ten tracks, let's just go ahead and track-by-track this review.
The opening track is a synthesized piece, and a medley at that. The first few minutes are a "military march" orchestral opening, but then it transition to an ambient electronica piece with a great harp lead and some pentatonic/modal harmonies. Another military theme then reprises at the end of the track.
Track 2 is the opening vocal track, "Brave New World." It's this crazy mix of fast-paced J-rock (punk rock drums and all) and some woman hitting super-soprano notes in an operatic style. It reminds me of a space opera sound, like the original Star Trek opening music. Putting this above a punk rock song is just crazy. I love the sound of it, and I have to admit, if that beautiful singer weren't there, I'd be far less interested in this piece (at least vocally). There's a great instrumental section in the middle of the piece, particularly because of the two guitar parts (lead guitar and rhythm guitar) sound excellent.
Another instrumental medley comes next, and it puts a synthesized pipe (bagpipe and others in the pipe family) on center stage. It's a lovely 4 minute piece, very slow, very moving.
Track 4 is a mid-tempo medley with plucked strings and light percussion. The end minute of this nearly 7 minute track brings in an organ and some good synth percussion sweeps.
Track 5 is a battle medley, and it too is nearly seven minutes in length. Well, it's almost all battle music. The last minute is a minor key piano piece: first piano solo, then joined by flute and strings.
"Brave New Love" is a ballad that reprises the melody of the Brave New World chorus. But when it gets to the point where she would sing the words "Brave New World," indeed, she sings "Brave New Love." The arrangement is mostly piano and strings, though there is a trap set there to keep the beat as well.
The music in the medley on track 7 are all chill, piano-centric ambient techno pieces. I love this stuff, and I'm really impressed that Sugiura can write this kind of music alongside the usual energy-filled J-Rock. Even more impressive, though, are the songs on track 8's "final battle" medley. Big, sweeping orchestral and choral pieces. Obviously synth, but good enough that you don't care about its artificial origins.
Track 9 is a short (2 minute) instrumental piece that signifies the triumph of the winning party. But we haven't quite reached the end yet; this music isn't pensive or reflective in any way. We save that for the final track, another vocal ballad called "I'll be there." This is a surprisingly soft ballad piece for the most part, though there is a pretty decent guitar solo buried in the track. It feels like a classic '80s ballad, and that definitely fits the throwback style of the other vocal pieces on this album. I'm into it.
Like other Heinrich von Ofterdingen albums, you had better have good connections in Japan if you want this CD. It was published under the label created specifically for this band and its game music products. It's not Ofterdingen's best music, especially because of the lack of powerful vocal themes (this album is decidedly softer and happier). But it's still a better album than many of the early Spectral Force CDs.
Reviewed by: Patrick Gann