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April 25, 2017 | | Comment? Share thison Facebook Turn Up The Dark: TV ANIMATION BERSERK OST (Review)on Twitter

Berserk 2016

The new Berserk TV series aired its first season last year to mixed reviews due to its use of a cell shaded 3D animation technique. In all of the reviews I came across, none had much to say about the music in the series. I have seen the original low budget Berserk anime TV series, the three Golden Age Arc films, played the Dreamcast game and read the manga up to volume 36. I am very familiar with the musical history of the series and actually passed on buying the scores to the trilogy of films by Shiro Sagisu.

However after watching Berserk last year, and listening to the music as it played in the series made this an album I could not pass up. Read on for my thoughts on the latest Berserk musical experience.

The album runs just over 75 minutes and contains the opening theme by 9mm Parabellum Bullet, two songs composed for the series by Susumu Hirasawa, and the closing theme and score by Shiro Sagisu. The opening theme song “Inferno” has really grown on me, the expert rapid guitar riffs at times had me air guitar plucking more than once. The full album’s track details are available on the Video Game Music Database.

Shiro Sagisu’s score jumps right into the darkness from the beginning opening with chaotic percussion, stopping briefly with a short moment of plucking acoustic guitar and then jumping back into percussion madness accompanied by electric guitar. Sagisu uses electric guitar multiple times in the score, and at key moments when Guts shows up in a scene, or to add emphasis to some already intense music. Track 5 “Blood and Guts and Blood” is one of those tracks that does this, and also is an alternate version of the track from the film trilogy. My favorite track on the album is track 15 “Black Swordsman unleashed” blends blood pumping electric guitar, with rapid fire percussion and twisted electronic edited sounds of strings. These edits give the listener the audio version of sword slashes, the track later slows into a more twisted version of clever audio edits  where the tempo gradually increases into a more dominant high toned guitar solo backed by sonic chaos.

Track 17 “Dragon Slayer” is a much more rapid tempo electric guitar piece backed with chorales and the electronically edited strings, the music playing during the moments where Guts battled the first season’s big bad, it is another album highlight.

Track 6, “Crumbling idee fixe” contains low toned cello arrangement of the Blood and Guts theme which some sheer suspense and cringe inducing high strings. One of my favorite tracks on the album is track 11,  “Desert Echoes” which features light woodwinds with the echoing voice of a woman repeating various phrases in English like ‘unworthy’, ‘impending doom’, ‘invisible’ and many other words. Listening to the track over and over might make you think you’re starting to hear voices, it is quite an intense experience.

Shiro Sagisu did write a song for the album I’m not crazy about called “Sun” which  sounded to me like a BT remix of a U2 song. It may grow on me with time. Sagisu also wrote the ending theme for the series which is a very lighthearted melody with vocals by yanaginagi. The vocal work is lovely, but of all the songs on the album it feels the most out of place.

Susumu Hirasawa’s “Ash” and “Ash Crow” are also fantastic. “Ash” is the song that the show uses during trailers for upcoming episodes, and “Ash Crow” features as an end credits theme for one of the first season’s episodes. Personally, I prefer “Ash” and feel that it could have been used as an opening theme.

If you like taking your ears to dark places, this Berserk soundtrack has an abundance of it. Shiro Sagisu has created a fitting score for the show which I prefer much more than what he scored for the Golden Age Arc films. If like me you skipped the last few Berserk soundtracks, you might want to consider picking up this one.  The album is available from CDJapan or Amazon.

What did you think of the music in the new Berserk series?

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