Side AKA (Red) of the two-part Hymmnos Concert for Ar tonelico 2 is, surprisingly, not the grossly superior album I expected it to be. When comparing the first Ar tonelico’s albums, I felt that Red was easily the better of the two albums. Every song was a hit (in my mind: others have disagreed). This time, it seems the quality has evened out. The Blue album was pretty good, and in turn, this album was only “good” instead of “great.”
The two vocalists on this album are Haruka Shimotsuki and Noriko Mitose. Their performances are split across the album. Tracks 2 through 7 are Shimotsuki, and 8 to the end are Mitose. Each does an excellent job with vocal performance. The issue at hand is composition: are these songs well-written?
I’d say it’s half and half. Some songs are a little too commonplace, not the spectacular “stand-out” music we are all used to from previous Gust projects. Check the audio samples to hear my favorite tracks. The title track is especially good, be sure to check it out!
Track 10 works off of a melody borrowed from the first Ar tonelico. This works out really well, but the song doesn’t really go anywhere from there. The last two tracks are some of Mitose’s better performances for *both* Ar tonelico games. “SPHILIA” was also good.
I was surprised to find one of my favorite tracks on the album is the opening instrumental. BASARA is a fun and upbeat track, a great way to open this “hot-blooded” crimson album.
If you enjoyed the last Hymmnos Concerts, you’ll probably enjoy Ar tonelico II’s Blue and Red concerts as well. But, if I may personally rank the albums, Ar tonelico’s first Red album is by far the best of all four Hymmnos Concerts. Make sure you own that album before you pick up any of the others.