Going into this review, let me say that I am biased. For a long time now I’ve been a huge fan of the Suikoden series and its music. Miki Hagishino, Tappy, Masahiko Kimura, and Keiko Fukami of the legendary Kukeiha Club have successfully brought more joy to my ears than almost any other musical entity. Having said that, I feel that La Passione Commuove la Storia is an overall lackluster album, whose flaws that I will get to in a bit.
La Passione is the first official Suikoden vocal album. The Suikoden series has stayed away from using much in the way of vocals or voice acting in the games, so this album branches out into new territory. Unfortunately, the result was not overwhelmingly positive, and I could certainly have waited for something of higher quality.
The first track, “Beautiful Golden City,” is a synth rendition of the Gregminster theme, and is pretty lackluster, compared to the original. In addition, it has no vocals; a fine way to start off a vocal album! The first vocal track is “Moonlight Night Theme,” a song which fans of the series will recognize as a heartfelt, uplifting song. Unfortunately, the vocals by Yuko Imai and the cheesy sax accompaniment make it sound like something you’d hear on a “lite” music station. Of course, my personal pet peeve regarding vocal albums is vocalists who can’t even correctly pronounce what they’re singing. That screams of low quality.
Fortunately, Track 3, “Reminiscence” fairs a bit better. When “Her Sigh” rolls around, I guess the composers felt it was a good idea to switch vocalists, which is good. Unfortuantely, Risa Oki does only a slightly better job with the English language than Imai. Thankfully, they switch Oki over to the Italian “La Mia Tristezza” where she performs much better, making this track on the album one of my two favorites.
Our final vocalist is Yoko Ueno, who does a reputable job with the Italian “Orrizonte” (here spelled “Orizzonte”) and “Due Fiumi,” the first of which is a lighthearted ballad, the second being a solemn lament. While I preferred the a capella performance of “Due Fiumi” in the Orizzonte album more, this synth version was reasonably good.
Much to my surprise, Yoko Imai returns for Track 8’s Rain Grass. This is probably my favorite track from the Suikoden III OST, and I love how they treat it in this album. It single-handedly saves anything else on this album, including Imai’s vocals.
The album ends with two classics; “La passione commuove la storia,” which is a beautiful uplifting dirge (!), and “When the Wind Blows Gently,” which fans of the series will recognize as the Vinay del Zexay theme. Both tracks are worth a listen, as both are great songs on their own.
As for my recommendations, I recommend this album to die-hard Suikoden music fans, and vocal fans who don’t mind horribly pronounced lyrics. For the most part, the BGM is interesting, though you’d be better off picking up the Great Composers series. Of all the arranged soundtracks in the series, this one is my least favorite.