Eight is great!
I have been anxiously awaiting this soundtrack’s publication since Ys VIII was first announced. Falcom has put a lot of time and effort into the ever-branching Kiseki franchise; meanwhile the last Ys OST release was for the re-visioning of Ys IV, Foliage Ocean in Celceta (AKA Memories of Celceta), in 2012.
I communicate with like-minded Ys lovers worldwide, and we all have our favorite soundtracks. Some people swear up and down that Felghana was the best thing to ever happen. Others prefer the old school, and will take redbook audio PC Engine Ys I and II over anything, ever. Other friends think that recent works like Ys Origin and Ys SEVEN are some of the best soundtracks. As for me? It is difficult to say, but I think the Ys soundtrack that has weaved its way closest to my heart is Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim. And now, it has a worthy competitor in Ys VIII.
The soundtrack opens with no guitars in sight. The “Lacrimosa of Dana” theme song is this beautiful orchestral waltz, with a melody extremely similar to the song “Once Upon a December” from the animated film Anastasia. The opening version sets things off great, though the full version on disc 2 is even better. After that, we get two more soft songs before the lovely folks at Falcom can take it no longer. The jdk must have their face-melting guitar time!
It all starts with “Deadly Temptation,” a late contender for “best RPG battle music of 2016.” It’s just that good. It’s killer guitar work, and the drums keep a tempo that just slightly edges out some of the better tracks from Ys SEVEN. And then, right after that, we have “Sunshine Coastline,” a song that is happy, adventurous and, at the same time, a kickin’ rock song. Listen to the melody: it’s perfect for singing along to! And yes, that is my nod to Falcom: please do another vocal album! Ys VI’s Songs of Zemeth remains a personal favorite, and there are well over ten tracks I could pull from the Ys VIII OST for such a project. “Sunshine Coastline” is the most obvious one.
(As an aside, I would like to note that both Ys SEVEN and Celceta never received arranged albums, which is unprecedented for the Ys series. Even the Felghana remake and Origin got “Super Arrange Version” albums. Ys VIII is well deserving of a vocal album, and maybe a piano or piano/strings album as well!)
One of the great things about Ys VIII is that the big, face-melting guitar work is kept sparse, like sugar at the top of the food pyramid. Along the way, there are other genres, styles, moods, and textures to explore. Some of them remind me of past Ys work, especially Ys VI and Ys SEVEN. However, in other ways, I am reminded of more recent Kiseki albums, and looking at the two composers responsible for Ys VIII, that doesn’t surprise me. This album is very much in the style of the Cold Steel soundtracks.
For example, take a listen to “Eroded Valley.” I am immediately reminded of that one cave dungeon in Ys VI. But I am also reminded of many songs from Sora no Kiseki, Nayuta no Kiseki, and various other Kiseki games. Whatever it is, it’s something absolutely sublime, and it’s soft. I love that diversity, and this is just one key example among many on the soundtrack.
Beyond that, I’ll let the audio samples work their magic. I’ve said this in other reviews: when I’m having debates with myself about which songs to sample for the review, that’s a very positive sign that I like the album a lot. The Ys VIII OST is everything I wanted it to be. Now I just want more arrangements based on this source material. Help me out, Falcom!