Vandal Hearts II ~Heaven’s Gate~ Original Soundtrack


Review by · January 15, 2006

When I first came across this soundtrack, I was hesitant to purchase it, or even spend any time listening to it. Based upon what I had heard in the first Vandal Hearts soundtrack, I expected more subpar Sakimoto-style strategy-RPG themes. You know the type: harps, booming drums and strings, blaring horns, wispy flute parts, that sort of thing. Well, as it turns out, that’s exactly what this soundtrack is. These songs are pretty, though they don’t compare well to the gold standard of Sakimoto excellence.

However, despite not living up to the gold standard, the soundtrack is surprisingly consistent (something that not every Sakimoto soundtrack can boast). Very few of these songs are worth skipping; each has a unique melody and theme. Those that don’t (the “metamorphosis” tracks, which I suspect were meant to be “variations on a theme” but Konami screwed up translation) are still decent arrangements of other songs on the album.

The tracklist is conveniently broken into sections that correspond with the game’s chronological order. Among these songs, the “Prologue” tracks were some of my favorites, though Part 3 had some beautiful music as well (for example, listen to the sampled track in this section). Surprisingly, one song that didn’t fit my tastes was the Hero’s Theme (2-27). I expected it to be a lot more creative and uplifting than it actually is. The song has a lot of dissonance within it, and that comes as a surprise to me.

One particularly disappointing track on this album is the Epilogue and Staff Credit piece. Clocking in at twelve minutes, I was hoping for this song to be a powerful and memorable medley of the best songs from the game, produced with an extra bit of orchestral flair (perhaps some live instruments as well). As it turns out, this song is just an exercise in patience. Repetition is the name of the game here, as the song doesn’t begin to “pick up” until the eight minute mark, and even when that happens, it’s still a rather dull track compared to other pieces on this album. I feel as though when Hiroshi Tamawari reached this song, he just gave up all hope on writing a spectacular piece and settled instead for this lackluster ending song.

Between the two discs, I’d have to say I prefer disc one, especially because of the many brilliant songs in the prologue section (there are more good songs besides the ones sampled, I can promise you that). However, disc two does have its shining moments; the epilogue section drags it down, however.

I have a hard time recommending this soundtrack to anyone, however. While this music is certainly quite good on a compositional level, there are so many better soundtracks that take priority over this one in terms of purchase, you’d really have to be quite a serious collector to get around to this soundtrack. That’s my final word on this one: don’t worry about finding it.

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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.