Game Music, Reviews

A Religious Experience: El Shaddai Ascension of the Metatron (Review)

A Religious Experience: El Shaddai Ascension of the Metatron (Review)

April 27, 2011 | | 6 Comments Share thison Facebook A Religious Experience: El Shaddai Ascension of the Metatron (Review)on Twitter

I think a lot of you are with me in being incredibly excited for this game. The announcement from Ignition Entertainment came out of nowhere, and I along with many others immediately fell in love with the beautiful graphical style of the game, and were curious who’d be handling the score.

As it turns out, Masato Kouda of Monster Hunter fame heads up composition duties along with fellow DESIGN WAVE composer Kento Hasegawa, both of whom worked together at Capcom. Even more surprising, however, was the news that Square Enix would be publishing the soundtrack for the game. Is this a sign that the Square Enix label might be moving into more than just publishing internal soundtrack releases?

Let’s worry about that later. For now, let’s dig into the El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron soundtrack!

Because the game and soundtrack have not been released as of the time I’m preparing this article, I’m constrained by what I can say about individual tracks since the track titles haven’t been translated into English. However, when I’ve talked to others about El Shaddai, I’ve noted that we’ve all been expecting an epic, high fantasy soundtrack. That’s not what’s here, but once you hear what is, I don’t think you’ll mind all that much.

Think cinematic. Think majestic. There’s a lot of orchestral work here, and even more choir. Kouda and Hasegawa serve up a mixture of organic and electronic tracks, although the majority tend to fall into the electronic area. Even then, don’t expect lots of catchy melodies (although there are a few), as I mentioned this score is cinematic and mood-setting.

Yeah, another one of those! The music here is always interesting in that it pulls in that seemingly rustic and exotic sound that we’d expect from a biblical tale, but provides a modern spin. This music is seriously meant to be an underscore, accentuating the action on the screen. Only occasionally will you glance up from your other tasks to see which track you’re listening to, but when you do look up, you’ll be in love with what you’re hearing. I was constantly reminded of the Vanquish soundtrack that we reviewed last year in that very few things stand out, but all of what’s here is well produced and amazing in its own right.

I can even say, “Think Xenogears,” or “Think Neon Genesis Evangelion.” This soundtrack is every bit as epic as those, and the religious undertones are equally applicable here. There are, as I had hoped, some serious organ tracks, which you’d expect from a game focusing on religious material, and the choir also adds to this vibe. There’s a track towards the end of the first disc that combines both into a an absolutely blissful experience.

But it’s not all beautiful. There are some downright disturbing tracks. Dissonant tracks hint as discord in the realm of heavenly beings, while others feature garbled, tense, and distorted sounds that would fit right into a survival horror game. I’m preparing myself for the nightmares I’m going to be having when I actually see what these tracks are scoring.  Beyond this, there are tons of brooding atmospheric tracks that create an image of a desolate landscape.

The album spans two discs, with the first featuring 33 tracks. So yeah, there are a lot of tracks that fall into the 1-2 minute range. Sometimes this is just enough, but I found myself wanting more of some of the catchier ideas that Kouda and Hasegawa come up with. Not having enough of a good thing is a minor gripe when you consider what’s here, however. There really isn’t much that you’re going to want to skip out of disinterest. Just when you’re going through a particularly ‘droney’ patch on the album, the duo throws in some jazz or a heavy rock track to pique your interest again. If you consider all of these excursions together, you actually have a pretty eclectic mix of tracks on the album.

While I have to say that this soundtrack is not what I expected in the slightest, I am pleasantly surprised. I would have loved some great melodic desert tracks along with a town theme and the like, but Masato Kouda and Kento Hasegawa’s diverse and downright interesting score really hits the spot. After hearing it, I’m more excited than ever for the game itself, and, my friends, that’s the entire point of releasing the soundtrack before the game is even out. Yeah, the soundtrack is out today in Japan (April 27), while the game launches on April 28.

In terms of packaging, I was asking myself if I wanted to do an unboxing video. Probably not. There is a cardboard slipcase that comes with the first pressing edition that fits over the dual-disc jewel case, and it’s nicely constructed. The jewel case is one of those deep cases with discs attaching to either side (the cover and the back panel). The booklet sits sandwiched between the two, and is quite lengthy with text in Japanese.

Do I recommend picking this one up? Absolutely. This is great music and what I think will likely be a great musical accompaniment to the game. More so, let’s support Square Enix publishing more than just Square Enix soundtrack releases. The album is available at CD Japan for 2,800 Yen.

What do you think of El Shaddai thus far? Are you interested in the game, and are you surprised by Kouda and Hasegawa’s cinematic approach to the soundtrack?

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