Game Music

Soundtrack of the Month 02/2009: The Memory of Ragnarok

February 2, 2009 | | 2 Comments Share thison Facebook Soundtrack of the Month 02/2009: The Memory of Ragnarokon Twitter

It’s about time we got around to this one. Ragnarok Online spawned my unhealthy obsession with soundTeMP, as it was one of their first titles to make it big on an international level. I’ll admit though, I am kind of cheating, as this isn’t the game’s original soundtrack, but rather half arrange album and half enhanced original soundtrack.

If you’ve read any of the twenty or so articles that I’ve mentioned soundTeMP in, you know that they write pop and trance music, and they do it well. Even more, The Memory of Ragnarok includes track-by-track credits, which revealed Seock-Jin Lee to be the primary composer responsible for Ragnarok Online. The booklet is even translated in English for crying out loud! Needless to say, this is one of the gems of my collection, and it’s not even out of print!

Hit the jump for our review of one of the greatest albums in history. Period.

The first disc is titled the “Enhanced Special” disc, and features a mix of new arrangements and vocal versions of some of the game’s best tunes. The album appropriately kicks off with “Title,” which is reinforced with foreboding, siren-like female vocals and blaring electric guitars. Next, the iconic “Theme of Prontera” is presented as a traditional K-pop track with female vocals that fit perfectly with the upbeat mood and whimsical progression of the music.

“Steel Me” is a strange addition to the “Enhanced Special” disc. This sounds like the original track that is featured in the Blacksmith capital city, which was unfortunately never featured on the original soundtrack. Lee notes in the booklet that the piece was meant to highlight the solitary lifestyle of the blacksmiths, and it does a great job doing this while being catchy and epic all at once.

“Wanna Be Free!!” is a vocal version of the theme that accompanies the game’s weekly guild battles. The liner notes provided for this one are great, as Lee mentions that he wrote this upbeat track and was later appalled to find out it was used for the bloody battles to capture the opposing guilds’ fortresses. “Desert” has always been one of my favorites with its smooth acoustic guitars and rnb-style percussion. The melody is simply divine.

Disc two is the “Original Remastering” disc, featuring even more music that was added to the game after the original soundtrack was released. “Theme of Al de Baran” was always one of my favorites with its spacey belltone melody and melancholy guitars. Bass and percussion are slowly added to the mix, constructing a steady and controlled piece of music that is as impressive as it is beautiful. “I Miss You’ is a classic piece composed by Kwak Dong-Il that goes back as far as the alpha version of Ragnarok Online. It’s an emotionally-tinged orchestral waltz with a heavy layer of reverb that so effectively conveys the message of the track’s title. Another upbeat piece, “One Fine Day,” is reminiscent of just that, with a deep bassline and a string melody that is beaming with joy. The interplay between the strings and bendy synths are a lot of fun.

“Plateau” is another favorite of mine with its powerful chorus section packed with electric guitars, belltones, and some awesome synth solos. Next, you’ll get a taste of soundTeMP’s electronic expertise with “TeMPorsche,” a steady drum ‘n’ bass track with Asian influences. Closing out the album is “Purity of Your Smile” by Jin-Bae Park, who many of you may recognize as ESTi. Yes, the one and only. His lone contribution to the album proves to be one of the best, opening with a majestic bell tree before a twangy guitars voice a melody against a backdrop of jazzy chords and razor-sharp synth lines. The piece slowly builds on itself with layers of synths and swinging percussion.

If I could find one complaint, it’d be that not all the game’s amazing music is found here. It’s the perfect complement, and in many cases, upgrade to the original soundtrack album though. The arrangements are superb, and it’s great to have access to some of the music that was added to the game at a later date.

The packaging is equally stunning. It comes in a full-sized cardboard sleeve and sports a thick booklet that is covered with artwork, and with all materials translated in English. How in the hell? Seriously. I can’t recommend this album enough, and encourage you to go to the Ragnarok Online website to check out samples, read more about the album, and buy it. You’ll have to create an account to buy it (you’re supposed to get an in-game item with the album), but it’s worth the small inconvenience. Also, you may notice the image at the bottom of the page linking to a review on Music4Games by “Music4Games Staff” (AKA me). Yeah, I think I could review this album every month and be happy doing it.

Have you experienced the perfection that is Ragnarok Online? Can you give me a good reason why you should not own this album?

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