Valkyria: Azure Revolution Original Soundtrack


Review by · May 15, 2017

Yasunori Mitsuda is one of the giants of game music composition. From early on in his 20-plus-year career, he has consistently demonstrated his penchant for small and large scale ensembles in both contemporary and traditional styles. He has coached stellar performances out of world-class and in-house orchestras and garnered the imagination of countless musicians and cover artists. Mitsuda’s passion for musical storytelling and touching his listeners has been realized again and again. Suffice to say, when given an orchestra, Mitsuda delivers.

The soundtrack to VALKYRIA: Azure Revolution is one such delivery. Fully orchestrated with performances by the Tokyo Symphonic Orchestra, Mitsuda presents 100 minutes of military and contemporary orchestral stylings reminiscent of themes from 20th and 21st century military history and cinema. Each track is well balanced and makes great use of the orchestra.

Accompanying the orchestra for a handful of pieces is Sarah Àlainn, an Australian singer/violinist and member of Mitsuda’s band, Millennial Fair. She provides an airy soprano, distinct accent, and imaginative lyrics. Sarah’s vocal tracks stand out as something special in the album. Each is operatic, spoken from the viewpoint of a character. The result is haunting and makes these pieces the highlight of the album.

Outside of these vocalized tracks, however, large portions of the album are forgettable. While it does what it does very well, it does it in a style that is fully expected for the themes involved and lacks unique melodic character. The soundtrack could just as easily be for any of the more recent Metal Gear games, or some dramatic thriller to hit the big screen, as for VALKYRIA. This leaves the album open to criticism as sounding generic, or at least unoriginal, despite the consistently superior quality.

I would have liked to see a bit more experimentation and stronger hints of Mitsuda’s unique tonal blends here. For me, this album stands in contrast to his work on the Xeno series under Monolith Software. There, the quality is not as consistently high, but each soundtrack stands out more than VALKYRIA’s. That said, Mitsuda composes for the story and VALKYRIA is a war drama. The music is appropriate and contributes to the tone of the setting.

As to whether you should buy it or not, it is an excellent work, but I am more inclined to suggest it to fans of movie scores or game music generally and not necessarily to fans of Mitsuda’s work in particular. Overall, the album sounds like any of several other well-experienced composers could have created it, and it only occasionally captures hints of a distinctly Mitsuda-ish sound. The vocal tracks stand out as worth listening to multiple times, but there are only a handful so they don’t really justify the purchase of the album. In short, someone looking for a superior orchestral score will not be disappointed, but someone looking for something unique and with strong melodies may be left wanting.

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Ronald Buie

Ronald Buie

Ronald was part of the RPGFan Music team from 2016-2018. During his tenure, Ronald bolstered our music review offerings by lending his unique voice and critique of the world of RPGs and VGM. Being a critic can be tough work sometimes, but his steadfast work helped maintain the quality of reviews RPGFan is known for.