Myth: The Xenogears Orchestral Album


Review by · March 27, 2011

The Xenogears original soundtrack is considered by many to be one of the great original RPG soundtracks. Yasunori Mitsuda succeeded in composing some truly memorable tracks and fans immediately began to dream of a possible orchestral arranged album. However, while many other RPGs ended up getting a fully orchestrated arrangement, fans of the Xenogears soundtrack were left waiting and waiting and eventually came to the realization that such a dream would never occur… Until 13 years later when, out of nowhere, an orchestral arrangement for Xenogears finally materialized.

To say that this soundtrack was eagerly awaited would be an understatement. The only question now is to figure out if this soundtrack was worth the wait. And the short answer to this question is… yes and no.

First of all, I’d like to put a little disclaimer on this review. I have to admit that I’ve always been a big fan of orchestral arrange albums. I much prefer an orchestral arrange album to other types of arranged albums like Xenogears Creid or Chrono Trigger’s Brink of Time. Obviously, this would make me a little biased to this album from the start since it’s my favorite style so keep that in mind while reading through this review.

Okay, let’s start with the good. On the technical side, there is nothing wrong with the album. The sound quality is good and so is the performance by the Bulgarian Symphony Orchestra. As far as the arrangements are concerned, those looking for an album that takes liberties with the original material will be quite disappointed as the arrangements stay mostly true to the original compositions. If you’re looking for a different take on the Xenogears music, you’re better off getting the Xenogears Creid arrange album since Myth, in most cases, simply takes the original songs and performs them using a full orchestra. While it may be a disappointment to some, I have no qualms about this since this is exactly what I want out of an orchestral arrangement.

The album starts off fittingly with the music from the anime intro of Xenogears. It’s difficult to find any fault to this song since the original was such a great song and this version follows the original to a tee. This is then followed by the popular “My Village is Number One” which in my opinion is one of the best song on the album. Mitsuda decided to take a little more liberty with this one as it doesn’t follow the original as much. This version is perhaps not as light-hearted and joyful as the original and sounds a little more melodic and adds a little vulnerability to the song and makes it more emotional. The song varies the tempo quite a bit going from slow to fast to slow again so I feel like it’s the more interesting and balanced song of the album and infinitely better than the original. Especially noteworthy here is the work of the strings. In fact, this is pretty much the case for most of this album as the strings section seems to be the one that sticks out the most.

The tracks “Flight” and “Unstealable Jewel” continues the good start of the album and are definitely enjoyable tracks. The same could be said about “Bonds of Sea and Flame”, “The Gentle Breeze Sings” and “Lost… Broken Shards”. In fact, if the entire album was like those 7 tracks I mentioned so far, I would have considered this album a complete success.

However, the album has 14 songs and unfortunately the rest of the songs don’t achieve the same high level that I was expecting. Keep in mind that none of the songs are bad, it’s just that they are either forgettable, phoned-in or a poor song selection for this album. “Stage of Death”, “The Wind Calls to Shevat” and “The Beginning and the End” all fit in the okay but forgettable category while “Small Two of Pieces” is still a great song but it’s not really any better than the one on the OST. The fact that they simply used the Joanne Hogg vocals from the OST and dropped it into an orchestral arrangement is probably the reason why it doesn’t work as well. I think it would have been better to have her perform it again live with the orchestra instead.

This brings me to my last complaint about the album which is the song selection. As great as “October Mermaid” and “Faraway Promise” are, I feel like they are on the wrong album and would have been a better choice on a Piano Selection album since they are pretty much that… piano solo songs. It feels like a waste of resources. If you have an album called “The Xenogears Orchestral Album”, I think it’s only natural to assume that ALL songs would be “orchestral” and I feel like this is a pretty big oversight. There are so many good songs on the OST that could have benefited from an orchestral arrangement that I felt cheated by these 2 piano solos. The songs “Knight of Fire”, “Steel Giant”, “Fuse” and “Graaf, Emperor of Darkness” especially come to mind since they are songs that “sounded” orchestral on the OST but with midi synth. I would have loved to hear those songs performed by a full orchestra.

Overall, I still think that this soundtrack is great. I love at least half of the songs on the album and even though the other half isn’t perfect, they are still pretty good songs. Even though many fans might be a little disappointed by this soundtrack because they have such high expectations coming in , I still feel like this is a worthy soundtrack and definitely worth purchasing, especially since the soundtrack is readily available to US customers on the iTunes store for a fraction of the cost it would take to import.

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Eric Farand

Eric Farand

While Eric didn't technically co-found RPGFan/LunarNET, he joined so early that he may as well have! Editor-in-Chief for nearly his entire tenure, Eric brought in countless people that all happily worked with him to mold RPGFan into what it has become today.