After SSH (Saitama Saishu Heiki) completed his first arranged album for the Atelier series, “Deceitful Wings,” fans anticipated a second album. I, personally, fell quickly in love with the Deceitful Wings album and its many rock arrangements. I have not stopped loving it. Of course, I made sure to preorder “Red Lucifer Rising” when it was announced.
A first listen through this album left me somewhat disappointed. It’s all relative to expectations: I know. In fact, I’m one to preach about such things (not getting one’s hopes up, etc.) all the time. But I fell for it. After getting so into Deceitful Wings, I found myself somewhat less impressed with this second album, though others are saying they like it more than the first album.
Here are my two points of contention. First and foremost: I’m not sure that the original compositions for Atelier Iris 2 are superior to the first Atelier Iris. A veteran of the Gust Sound Team, Akira Tsuchiya was not present for the sequel, and his work is top-notch. Also, the battle themes for Atelier Iris 2 weren’t quite as interesting as the first, in my opinion.
My second point of contention is that the arrangements stay a little too close to the original. Sometimes, I felt like I was listening to an OST track with guitar and drums added on the side. For example, “Emperor Fangs” made use of some very unique instruments for the melody, and so, the same synth instruments are used in the arrangement, following the exact same melody. The next track, Carmine, and plenty of others are the culprit of this same problem.
But, this was a first judgment only, and a harsh one at that. Like the first album of its kind, SSH’s second Atelir arrangement has grown on me, and I have quickly come to love it. Carmine, for example, has an incredible piano solo that I love to skip ahead to and listen to over and over. A song that I previously disliked, I now yearn for. Funny, isn’t it?
Really, the album is on par with the first in terms of arrangement. Song selection is also exactly what you’d expect: mostly battle themes, and some dungeon themes. Of the dungeon themes, “Danger Zone” was one of my favorites. Rather than straight out rock, the techno-dance-pop vibe of the original version is enhanced for the arrangement.
The “Ver-0” bonus tracks are an extra bonus. These are rough cuts, variations on the final product, probably just to fill up the disc to over 70 minutes. It gives you a chance to see where SSH started and where he was going. I actually found myself prefering some of these arrangements to their final “official” counterparts. I sampled “Seething Fighting Spirit” (the standard battle theme) to give you a chance to hear it.
I know this review is giving mixed signals. It’s something like stream-of-consciousness over elapsed-time. Forgive me for doing so, but I wanted to share all of my general thoughts about the album in this review. The final verdict, from me, is this: if you liked the first one at all, this is more of the same, and it’s great work. If you’ve been following Atelier, or the Team Entertainment releases, or if you’re just a big SSH fan, get to buying this album.