How long has it been since we got a completely original Ys game and soundtrack? Within the six years between Ark of Napishtim and Ys Seven, we received a remake of Ys III (Oath in Felghana), two remakes of Ys I&II, and a prequel (Origin) that borrowed many musical elements from the first two games. As good as at it may be to relive old tales in a new way, you can’t ride that nostalgia train forever. Not only does Ys Seven give us a plethora of new Falcom music, it also feels different from the last few by pushing on us a lot of softer tracks. It also reverted back to a more synthesized basis. None of these changes stopped the Falcom Sound Team from making yet another great Ys soundtrack.
The OST starts strong with the opening version of “Innocent Primeval Breaker,” demonstrates the current team’s main musical style at its finest. They excelled once again on their electric guitar/violin combo to create another powerful theme to jam to, creating a good balance of “soft” and “edgy.” The full version of the song is included at the end of disc two as a bonus, which sounds even better in its full length.
Soon after “Innocent Primeval Breaker,” the OST shows off more of its strength with its excellent field themes. Each of them are quite distinctive and upbeat that are delightfully fun to listen to, giving off a strong adventurous spirit. One good example: “Mother Earth Altago.” “Extended Forest Green” is a neat forest theme that utilizes flutes to set the tone, and relies on the pleasant melody to make it catchy. “Desert of Despair” maintains their track record of cool, hardcore desert themes and “Smashing Through the Mountain Path” just sounds exotically beautiful. My favorite pick, though, is “To Reveal the Way to Go.” Whereas “Mother Earth Altago” has a new adventure feel to it, the jazzy/violin fusion of “To Reveal The Way to Go” has a grand feel to it.
As good as the field themes are, the highest highs of this soundtrack are definitely battle themes with “Vacant Interference” being the best among them. Again, Falcom really knows how to make the combination of electric guitars and violins work together so well to create something so powerful. I love the way the two instruments switch around to make the song dynamic, and the transitions are seamless. It’s hardcore, it’s stylish, and it became my favorite boss theme in the series.
Other great battle themes worth mentioning are “Legend of The Five Great Dragons” and “Scias.” The latter comes with parts of the song resembling Ys III’s “The Strongest Foe” in a gothic style. Of course, there are several great battle themes present, but these are among the best in my book.
The strongest examples of Ys Seven’s style change can be found in the dungeon music. The songs are slow, lush, and quite atmospheric. The best example comes from “Sanctuary of Meditation Breeze (Kylos).” It’s a beautiful piece that makes use of flutes, completed by acoustic guitar and violin to create a relaxing, airy feel. Same goes with “The Sacred Wind,” but the piano and brass gives off a more dramatic feel to the song. Another example is “Ruined Island (Edona),” an enchanting aquatic piece that has its share of intense moments.
The weakest aspect of the soundtrack goes to the event/scene music, but even those are pretty good. “Tia -The Defended-” is a pleasant piano piece and “Tia -Disappearance of Reason-” is a beautiful symphonic version of that piano piece that manages to heighten my emotions. I also like the suave style of “Uncertainty in the Future.” The rest of the songs work well within the game, but they don’t have lasting impression outside of it.
Though the soundtrack has a lot of good things going for it, there is a major drawback present. Many songs take quite long time to start up–that can range from thirty seconds to a minute, and that hinders some of the song’s potential. One example is “Assault,” which is a battle theme that starts off sounding weak, and gradually picks up; however, by the time it gets really good, half the song is already over. “Isolated Island Consigned to Oblivion” has a nice flute melody going for it, but it takes over a minute for the main melody to actually kick in. Heck, even some of the best songs like “Scias” takes a long time to warm up. It’s not a flaw that may ruin the soundtrack, but it’s quite noticeable. You’ll be rewarded with nice tunes for those patient, but it’s a tough appeal if the music does not hook you from the beginning.
Sadly, there are also a few subpar songs in the mix, but fortunately it’s uncommon. “Loud,” as the name implies, is a bit of scene music that goes for “loud,” but comes out more “obnoxious.” “Public Palace” is a song that might’ve fit the royal castle feel well, but the organ playing is just plain uninspired. I consider those two songs to be the worst in the album, and it does not help that they’re the first few songs you’ll be hearing if you do a straight listen of the OST (or are starting up the game for the first time).
I should mention, also, that though this is an almost entirely “new” soundtrack, there is one arrangement of an old Ys theme. It’s Ys II’s “Don’t Go So Smoothly.” It’s an interesting song to include out of all other Ys music, and hey, it’s an intense songs that works for making some scenes cooler.
Ys Seven may not be the best OST that Falcom Sound Team JDK has done, but it’s still another quality work. They mixed things up instead of playing it safe, and things still worked out. Definitely give this soundtrack a listen, and spread the Falcom love.