Motoi Sakuraba seems to think that if he keeps publishing enough content, the day will come that RPGFan can't keep up with reviewing all his work. If he thinks he'll win that battle, he's dead wrong.
Released less than a month after four discs worth of OST material, the Valkyrie Profile 2 -Silmeria- Arrange Album features lengthened versions of ten songs from the OSTs, sometimes including newly recorded live instruments (usually drums and bass, but some new strings come in as well), and the occasional guitar or organ solo. It's about what you'd expect if you've heard the arrange albums for Valkyrie Profile Lenneth, Star Ocean: The Second Story, or Star Ocean: Till the End of Time. By now, Sakuraba's come up with a relatively successful formula, and he sticks to the formula here as well.
The difference, however, is that the compositions for Silmeria are a tad bit different from the standard Sakuraba style we've all grown to either love (or despise). I found a lot more slowed-down hard rock with crunchy organ synth replacing the standard über-vibrato synth that dominates most Sakuraba arrangements. Of course, vibrato organ is still found, but it's accompanied by some other interesting sounds, making for some interesting arrangements.
The softer songs are also a slight change of pace for Sakuraba-san and his many listeners. I took this as a welcome change, and enjoyed these more melodic pieces (such as the opening) quite a bit. "A Stable Float" was probably the most relaxing piece of the bunch. The simple string and piano work with an etheral choir background reminded me of Falcom's "Preprimer" albums.
I was pleased to see the frequent use of piano on this album, coming to a climax specifically in "Endless High-Speed Running." This song takes a no-holds-barred approach to rockin' piano solos. The structure of the solo eventually falls apart at the end, and it is done intentionally so that all that's left is the crashing and clanging of clusters of notes. In my mind, it sounds glorious.
The ending medley is ultimately triumphant, and features a lot more orchestra than one would expect from Sakuraba. Frankly, I enjoyed it.
So it seems that my personal love/hate relationship with Sakuraba continues, with this album sending me on the upswing. Not only is Valkyrie Profile 2 -Silmeria- and excellent game, but it apparently contains excellent music. The arranged album is a testament to this, and a worthy addition to your soundtrack collection, even if you already have the two OST volumes.
Reviewed by: Patrick Gann