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Soundtrack of the Month 03/2010: Front Mission 5

March 1, 2010 | | 1 Comment Share thison Facebook Soundtrack of the Month 03/2010: Front Mission 5on Twitter

Front Mission. Toshiro Tsuchida brought to life a world of realistic drama and conflict with this great series that crosses boundaries between media – games, music, books, comics and even short films all came together to tell a story . Sadly, precious little of this material made it into English.

One casualty was Front Mission 5 – a war drama, a love story, a world-spanning epic, and the conclusion of the series’ plot. One can see how that would be problematic. Thanks to a team of dedicated translators, FM5 was recently made available to English speakers. Celebrating this, and the forthcoming Front Mission Evolved, we take a look at Front Mission 5‘s incredible soundtrack as our Soundtrack of the Month.

Hit the jump and read up on this hidden treasure.

A little context: Front Mission 5 spans the life of a man named Walter Feng. As a soldier, his side of the conflict is on that of the USN – Front Mission’s near-future version of a united North and South America. FM5, and therefore Walter’s life, covers several decades of war. Experiencing the narrative of FM5 will take the player through many conflicts from the earlier games, often on the opposite side of the war than fans might have expected. The tale is not one of good versus evil, but nationalism versus internationalism, and humankind versus itself.

FM5 is also the first game in series to have cinematics, which required a new level of quality in music to be convincing. FM5 not only has good music, but it has lots of it – three discs – and the quality eclipses that of the rest of the series. Hidenori Iwasaki, the primary composer, had previously worked on FM4, but it’s clear he has grown a lot musically since then. Joined by names like Kenichiro Fukui and Hayato Matsuo, plus a smattering of live musicians and a choir, he delivers a powerful, hard-hitting soundtrack.

This is a three disc beast, so I’m not going to go through every track, but there are many worth mentioning in detail. “Children of the War” is a the title track, setting up a thematic strain that will be used again throughout the soundtrack. “War of the Titans” is blistering and fast-paced, carrying the excitement and fear of a soldier’s first sortie. “Keepers of Freedom” is laid back, with the odd mixture of a live trumpet solo above a down-tempo dance beat. “Lock and Load II” closes out the disc, and is a strong, mechanical remix of Front Mission 4′s gear-up tune.

“For Home and Country”, a march, sets the tone for disc 2. One of the most popular songs from the soundtrack, “Defenders,” follows shortly. This is a big track, accompanying a turning point in the plot’s narrative. The song has several moods it moves through, beginning grimly, but eventually building up to a more stoic tone. “Memoria Ferita,” “Casualties of War” and “Ode to the Fallen” are all powerful songs, and effective when paired up with their cinematics. The former two are heavy on choral arrangements; the latter, an excellent piano dirge. Rounding out the suite is the resolved-sounsing “Tempered Blade.”

“Flight of the Wyverns” plays alongside your first foray as a special operations soldier, and is a soaring piece. Underneath a full string orchestra and brass, a bass guitar and hi-hat keep a steady beat. The theme is extended and elaborated further in its reprise, “Quicksilver.” “Muzzle Flash” keeps a heavy, stern pace, and “Revelations II” is unnerving.

Disc 3 brings on the great finale, opening with the peaceful “Ne M’Oubliez Mie”. “Seek & Destroy”, “Grim Reaper”, and “Accelerator” all sound as awesome as their titles do, featuring a gritty blend of heavy, deep electronica and orchestral genres.

“Whiteout” is a particularly intense track, beginning with a simple bass line and some eerie wind effects before breaking out into full-on orchestral bombast. The track follows a unique 3/2 beat until the halfway point, shifting to a 4/4 beat and then back again. There are some darker, more sinister tracks that follow: “Primary Objective” is a brooding, plodding piece with very heavy bass. “Iron Demon” is a disturbing mix of dissonant strings, distorted sound effects and an incessant, deep synth bass, and “Engram” is equally effective, but only with a choir, cellos, and some very minimal percussion.

“Deliverance”, the final “battle track”, clocks in at a roomy six minutes. After a foreboding introduction, the listener is greeting with an assault of strings, percussion and a full choir. The song moves between dark, sinister motifs and soaring, uplifting moments. For every breezy moment of strings and majestic chorus, there is a dark piano and timpani break or industrial clang of warfare to change the focus, always being pushed along by a heavy bassline.

“Scars of the War” accompanies the final moments of the game and the credits, and is suitably epic. The song is performed with a full orchestra – strings, brass, percussion and choir. Moving through the main motifs of the game, it begins softly before moving into a rousing military march and finale.

Give the soundtrack a try, and give the game a try too. Front Mission 5 is a mature, well-crafted title that shuns many video game tropes and cliches, and demonstrates how to tell an excellent story using medium. The music plays a central role in the title’s accomplishments, and should not be missed.

Check out the Front Mission 5 translation at frontmission.info/wiki/pmwiki.php

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