I've said it so many times now that I feel it should go unsaid, but just as a preface for VGM novices that are reading this review: any soundtrack that extends to this number of discs/tracks (in this case, 4 discs and exactly 100 tracks) is guaranteed to have a lot of boring tracks. There are very few exceptions to this rule.
I've also said this upcoming statement many times, but I'll say this one again too: Motoi Sakuraba is burning out. The man needs a break. He must have a reasonable sum of money for all the work he's done: he should go take a five year vacation and come back to the VGM scene fresh and new and shiny. As it stands, the man is just making more of the same.
That's not to say that we can't find good music in this, the sixth game in the Tales series (which have, up to this point, been done primarily by Sakuraba...Shinji Tamura's role on these soundtracks is still something of a mystery). Disc one is packed with some really impressive non-battle tracks, two of which are apparently meant to refer to ice. I can hear it in the song: Sakuraba knows how to create those musical chills.
Some of the faster songs and battle themes have some fresh and original sounds to them, things that I like to hear from Sakuraba (who is generally criticized for making cookie-cutter songs with the same instruments and rhythms over and over). "The trial", for example, seems to be a conscious effort in bringing some new sounds to the Tales soundscape. An incredible run of triplets on many ethnically-diverse instruments is what makes this song noteworthy. And even those songs that don't make much progress, the songs that sound like every Sakuraba song you've heard, they are still awesome. One such example is disc three's "Dogfight", featuring some chaotic rhythms halfway through the song.
Honestly, what I really appreciated about this four disc collection was its consistent effort to make the slower songs not boring. Man, I am dead tired of multi-disc OSTs filled with three minute tracks that are just two chords being droned out ad nauseum. This may happen up to ten times on another OST, but Tales of Rebirth only does it twice. That's a pretty good track record you go goin' for yourself there, Mr. Rebirth!
Fans of the Tales series and/or Motoi Sakuraba should know what to expect on here. At the end of the day, this is run-of-the-mill Sakuraba with maybe a few new tricks up his sleeve. If you liked the music of the last five Tales games, you'll like this too, though if you're anything like me, you might be getting tired of it. I had hoped for better things from this soundtrack, and I didn't quite get it; but I did catch a glimpse of it. Let's hope for good things from Legendia in the near future.
Reviewed by: Patrick Gann