I think this is easily one of the most anticipated soundtracks of 2014 for soundtrack enthusiasts. After MoNACA’s amazing work on the soundtrack to NieR, we have all been looking forward to their return visit to the Drag-On Dragoon universe. The entire team is back for more, including vocalist Emi Evans, so I certainly had high hopes.
So, will the Drag-On Dragoon 3 soundtrack live up to your expectations? Hit the jump for my review.
As much as all of us want this album to be a repeat of NieR, Drag-On Dragoon (Drakengard) is a very different game, and thus, the music reflects that. Half of the soundtrack is dedicated to bombastic orchestral battlefield themes, much in the same vein as the first two Drag-On Dragoon games, without the chaotic use of sampling. There’s lots of rolling orchestral percussion, big brass, big strings, and lots of female choral singing. To mention a few, I enjoyed the particularly ominous “Redeemed Invasion” with its unsettling vocals, the horrifyingly dark and brassy “Uncertainty” with its swells that sound almost like sirens, and the marimba and bell-laden “The Odd Soul.”
There are also a number of ambient tracks featured, including the opener, “Better End,” which lets you know you’re in for something new with its minimalist approach and the sound of birds chirping. The ambiance continues with the electronic signals and tones of “Biased Crime,” the tribal percussion of “Turning Back,” and the droning pads and creepy female vocals of “Deep Darkness.”
But that isn’t to say there won’t be moments that remind you of NieR. “The Forgotten” brings Western-style guitar and throaty male chanting that will remind you of NieR, while the somber but beautiful “Fallen God” and “Empty Tone” featuring Emi Evans have that tragic vibe that was so pervasive throughout that score. Not to forget that this is Drag-On Dragoon, however, the chaotic “Exhausted” theme from titles past makes an appearance, here with vocals.
The album’s second disc is going to draw a lot of attention for its vocal themes and alternate versions of the battlefield themes, mostly in styles including metal, electronic, and sometimes both combined. They’re very well done, with ethereal female vocals added, chugging guitars and thumping percussion, and reminded me a bit of the direction that Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance or the NieR Gestalt & Replicant 15 Nightmares & Arrange Tracks album took. My favorite of the bunch is “Leap Wishes / Egregori,” with its great guitar solos and heavy metal sound.
In terms of vocal themes, Sony artists are featured prominently, with “Black Song” acting as a nice bridge between orchestral and rock, opening with just piano and vocals before pumping electronics come in with a typical Japanese pop sound (Emi Evans sings a version of this as well). “The Silence is Mine” is the other single from the game, as is fittingly reflective and dark as one of the last tracks on the album. The true star, however, is “Final Song,” the nearly eight-minute-long Emi Evans track that traverses a number of musical styles, opening with otherworldly bell tones and moving into Celtic before ending where it began.
Can I say I love this soundtrack as much as I loved NieR? I unfortunately cannot. But I appreciate that this is a different game with a different gameplay style, and I do enjoy the “NieR flavor” that is weaved throughout. I hope the team at MoNACA continues writing music for games, as I’ll always be looking forward to what they do next, but after listening to this album, you may find yourself becoming a fan of their rock/electronic hybrid sound as opposed to the somber instrumental music you thought you were coming to hear.
Available at: CD Japan