Noriyuki Iwadare has never let Grandia fans down. Even the soundtrack to Grandia Xtreme was excellent (athough the game wasn’t). The newest soundtrack, Grandia III does not disappoint. Fans of Iwadare will be pleased to know that he still has the “Grandia feel” down pat. GIII isn’t quite as spectacular as the original Grandia, but it is still enjoyable to listen to and deserves a place in any Grandia fan’s play list.
The majority of the album is very peaceful, and makes for great easy listening. In fact, most of disc 1 is calm and soothing, while disc 2 is more aggressive. On disc 1, “Peaceful” and “Where is the Right Way” are very laid-back, with a soft piano and a lush flute. There are also happy-go-lucky songs like “Miranda’s Theme” and “Happy Mushrooming,” which remind me of cartoons. There are also comical songs too, such as “Gambler’s House,” which makes me think of shady gangsters in a speak-easy. In general, disc 1 is good. There are a few filler tracks, but they don’t get in the way of the disc as a whole.
Disc 2 starts off with “To the Moon,” a new age vocal from Kaori Kawasu. The track starts off with a lot to be desired, but it quickly gains momentum, and becomes one of the highlights of the album. Kawasu’s beautiful, yet haunting voice is complemented by strong strings and a humble acoustic guitar. Also near the beginning of disc 2 is “Attack with Conviction,” which is a solid battle theme. It has the trademark piano and rhythm section that Iwadare is famous for, and it is well done. However, it isn’t as memorable as past Grandia battle themes, especially those from Grandia Xtreme. The song’s weakness is its melody, which isn’t very memorable at all. Another song worth noting is “Caravans,” which draws inspiration from Morocco and American jazz. It’s an interesting combination, and the song is catchy, with a Middle-Eastern tabla (a cousin of the bongo) and a light acoustic guitar. The final battle theme, “The Great Assize,” is probably the weirdest final battle theme I have ever heard. It doesn’t sound like a battle theme at all; it sounds more like an epilogue or a cutscene score than a battle theme. It lacks the fervor and excitement of a final battle theme, but I can see what Iwadare was trying to achieve, and I like it. Sure, it would have been nice to have a more exciting battle theme, it was a nice change.
If there is one thing that I admire most about Noriyuki Iwadare’s compositions, it’s his piano work. It is simply spectacular, and it has become somewhat of a signature in his music. It can be appreciated the most in tracks like “Where is the Right Way,” where it accompanies a Spanish guitar, or in “Peaceful,” where it accompanies a flute, giving the listener images of peaceful days. I also enjoyed it in “Forest of Fantasy,” where is plays behind the most gorgeous string orchestra I’ve ever heard.
My only disappointment with Grandia III is the track layout, particularly on disc 1. There are long stretches of soothing music with nothing in between to break up the pace. The music itself is great, but it would have had a better effect if it had been laid out in a different order.
Overall, Grandia III is a solid soundtrack that should please fans of the series. It’s not as spectacular as the rest of the series, but it is by no means a terrible soundtrack. I’m giving it an 8 out of 10.