Music From Brandish 3: Spirit of Balcan


Review by · July 17, 2006

I spent many a year avoiding Brandish music, even in the midst of my Falcom music obsession. Falcom had seen much success with Ys, and series favorites such as Sorcerian and Legend of Heroes also hogged much of the spotlight. Considering the relative obscurity of the Brandish series, I didn’t want my impression of Falcom to be ruined.

Of course, this was all stupidity on my part. I enjoyed the arranged Brandish music I’d heard on various Special Boxes, and I instantly fell in love with the Brandish Piano Collection. It was time for me to return to the days of ancient soundchips and check out the original compositions. Somehow, still had it in stock (as of 2006), so I was fortunate enough to pick up this obscure treasure.

Though “Sound Team JDK” is listed as the official composer, there is sufficient evidence to believe that the much of this music was composed by the 80s-rock-style arranger Tomohiko Kishimoto. Almost every song is fast-paced, and the standard guitar/bass/keyboard/drum setup is found in at least half of the tracks on the two disc album.

If it weren’t for the outdated sound of the synth (especially for 1995), this soundtrack would easily be an instant classic. If a “perfect collection” arrangement were released (like Ys I and II received), I’m sure Falcom fans would have paid more attention to Brandish 3. As it is, the limitation of the synth can grate the ears. However, the compositions are simply the best in-your-face power-rock Falcom has to offer.

There is nothing boring about this soundtrack. Every song is interesting and enjoyable. It caught my interest, and it didn’t let go of me until it was finished speaking its mind. Songs like “Maison” and “Blood from a Stone” (see audio samples) are ones that I rank much higher than any song from The Legend of Heroes III or IV.

I thoroughly enjoyed all of the first disc, but the second disc was slightly subpar (that is, in comparison to the first disc).

From tracks 15 all the way to the end of the OST tracks (“Paranoia” to “Severe Time, Over…”), things were somewhat less creative. Either I began to run out of patience, or else the composer(s) ran out of creativity. This is a shame, because most soundtracks have some of their best music near the end; after all, the gamer ought to be rewarded for reaching the dramatic conclusion of any game!

But really, even this was only a minor letdown. Overall, the original music is great, even with the yucky PC chiptunes.

Oh, and here’s a nice incentive to purchase: eight bonus arranged tracks! Split between the two discs at the end are four character themes and four “JDK Band Arrange” tracks. Talk about a real treat! I was most pleased by the last track, the Boss Medley. However, this doesn’t discredit the power-rock arrangements Kishimoto did. And, there is some fun jazz too! The character themes are jazzy and upbeat: see “Ares.”

Best advice I can give is this: buy it before it’s too late. Seriously, it’s a miracle that the album has been in stock at for eleven years and counting. This clearly demonstrates that the album is quite unpopular, even among Falcom fans. If this review serves to finish selling GMO’s stock, I’ll be satisfied. People ought to know about this fine Falcom album; I know I was glad to finally give it a chance.

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Patrick Gann

Patrick Gann

Therapist by day and gamer by night, Patrick has been offering semi-coherent ramblings about game music to RPGFan since its beginnings. From symphonic arrangements to rock bands to old-school synth OSTs, Patrick keeps the VGM pumping in his home, to the amusement and/or annoyance of his large family of humans and guinea pigs.