Nobuko Toda, known for her work on the Metal Gear Solid series since Snake Eater in 2004, breaks away from her previous and more ambient works in order to venture into an exciting industrial electronic motif for Senritsu no Stratus OST. Most of the 36 tracks are reminiscent of a Matrix or Bourne movie, with their dramatic edge and theatrical style replacing the subdued elements of a stealthy MSG game, but Nobuko and her fellow composers Maki Kimura, Ludvig Forssell, and Shuichi Kobori manage to keep up the fast-paced theme throughout Senritsu’s soundtrack… for better and for worse.
The soundtrack does a good job at pairing industrial electro with symphonic elements, often bringing in strings and horns to complement the beats and rhythms of electronic music. This gives the tracks an intense feel in the immediate while simultaneously portraying a grander scheme at play. “Assault” and “Soaring” are excellent examples of how this mixture of the two plays out. Even when they introduce vocals and instrumentals, most of the tracks do not stray far from their electronic foundation, which makes for a nice fusion in a background piece within a game. However, although the style is definitely interesting, many of the tracks quickly grow repetitive, and this hinders the music’s ability to really stand on its own outside of the gaming experience.
While Senritsu’s electric-symphonic tracks run rampant throughout the soundtrack and easily comprise the majority on the album, they aren’t the only thing Senritsu has to offer. The soundtrack features two vocal pieces: the opening song, “eternal blue” by FictionJunction, which fits right into the anime style of the gameplay, and “Embrace the Night,” a vocal piece with a sweet sound and soft melody that works well as a closing anthem. While these songs are good in the sense that they suit the soundtrack, their replay value is lessened by the fact that they hover over the line of sounding too generic. The album is also peppered with orchestra-only tracks, most of which are bland at best. There are exceptions, but with tracks like “Debriefing,” “Cloud 9,” and “Operation Daybreak,” it’s almost like the producers knew the pieces weren’t worth listeners’ time and cut the tracks short. The saving grace for Senritsu’s instrumental tracks are the piano pieces “Woe,” “Anima,” and especially “Innocence.” The piano in these tracks manage to incite just enough emotion to warrant that melancholy feel without being excessive and is a perfect touch to the album.
One of the things that impressed me the most about Senritsu was the use of hidden vocals in the tracks. Nobuko manages to incorporate them throughout the album, but they are always in a supportive capacity and never at the forefront of a piece. The vocals provide a subtle backdrop while the instruments carry the melody in tracks like “To Smear with Blood” and “Mooring a Boat.” It’s not a conventional path to take, which gives the OST a bit of uniqueness, but even with that upside, the tracks still fail to be exceptional.
At first glance, its industrial electro feel and orchestra fusion make the Senritsu no Stratus OST seem promising, and when taken track-by-track, the soundtrack is enjoyable to listen to. However, the pieces fall into a repetitive pattern which drops the overall quality of the work. It becomes hard to distinguish between the tracks, and very few end up standing out. Some OSTs hit the mark and make it work , but for Senritsu no Stratus, the same style heard over and over fails to pan out in the long run and severely hampers the soundtrack’s enjoyability. Nobuko’s ventured effort and choice of style is admirable, but apathy is the lingering feeling once the final notes pass for this album.