I was a big fan of Zack Parrish’s work on the Valdis Story: Abyssal City OST, so I was pretty giddy when he released a ten track supplemental album for the game’s update. My biggest concern was that ten tracks might not be satisfying after the 45 tunes in the original OST covered so much ground. Thankfully, Parrish managed to find even more clever ways to explore the hauntingly melancholic theme of Valdis Story while delivering a huge amount of musical variety.
It feels a little strange to review this right after the Final Fantasy Type-0 HD OST, an album that I thought overused its theme to its detriment. In contrast, while nearly every track on this OST calls back to a theme from the original Valdis Story OST, it’s done in unique ways. Echoes of the Past is a great example; a familiar theme is set in a different mode and Zack crafts a masterful suspension, playing with your expectations of resolution. All that from a song that starts off as a quaint little music box. Subtly layering depth was one of Zack’s strong points in the original OST, and I think it’s even more noteworthy here.
Not every song on the album is so musically dense, though. In Memoriam is a wistful little solo piano tune that finds strength in brevity. Waffles is an adorable chiptune version of Valdis OST’s Pancakes that I didn’t realize I wanted until I heard it. Who doesn’t love Magicorgis named after carb-heavy breakfast foods? Literally no one.
While both of the new character themes are strong, I think Do You Feel Lucky? does a lot more to stand out than Miss Understood. The latter is more of an expected Parrish-style rehashing of the Wake of Valdis theme. It’s done well, and the song is great, but Do You Feel Lucky? is oozing with fresh character by comparison. Zack shows off his sexy, full-bodied keyboard patches in this song as a violin introduces us to a unique new melody for Vladyn. I can hear shades of Ennio Morricone in the lead here, and to be frank, it sounds totally badass framed with these instruments. This is definitely my favorite tune on the album that isn’t a total Punch Dudes With Intensity blow-out.
Speaking of which, there are a few, and they come in a couple different flavors. Zack stitches parts together with remarkably fluid transitions that had me backing up the track and asking “Wait, how did we get here?” Abomination is a great example of that, starting off as an aggressive march, changing into an amazing palm-muted guitar riff, passing that off to a choir that wouldn’t sound out of place in a Souls OST, and finally using a metal-style break-down to lead into a familiar theme (this time with some rad pitch bending!). However, this song and Provenance both suffer a little from a weak drum track. Provenance especially, which features some neat double-bass beats that I sometimes have to strain to hear, would have benefited from some more hardcore drums. Exhume, conversely, has very heavy, satisfying drums that carry the song through transitions and solos alike, which unfortunately serves to highlight the weaker drum tracks by comparison. In songs as heavy and epic as these, I want to hear the bass drum with my chest, not my ears.
Even with that caveat, Provenance is one of the most ridiculous songs I’ve ever heard from Mr. Parrish. The riffs, the break-downs, and the solos (featuring some super fancy sweep arpeggios) all come together in a way that we in the music biz refer to as, “incredibly dope.” This will likely become one of my tournament hype songs, and in fact, I eagerly look forward to slapping some buttons while pumping this jam.
Even if you aren’t familiar with the original, this will be a great introduction to Zack’s style of composition. This album is being sold for the low, low price of pay-what-you-want, so think about tossing him a few bucks, and if you like it, be sure to check out the much longer Valdis Story: Abyssal City OST, an album I still listen to regularly nearly two years after its release.