Genesis of Dragon Force - GM-PROGRESS-7
Genesis of Dragon Force ~ GM-Progress 7 commemorates the strategy game Dragon Force with a part-arranged, part-drama album. Unfortunately for Westerners, the drama section predominates and only five of the 14 tracks are instrumental arrangements. This album is more about setting the background for the story of Dragon Force than celebrating the music for the game. While the arranged tracks are generally enjoyable, they mainly take a formulaic approach and rarely deviate from the originals. Nevertheless, some audiences might find this album appealing...
The majority of the soundtrack is dedicated to dramatic performances featured against background music. The performances from the three voice actors are generally impressive and they bring a lot of mood to the serious story. The track selections are generally predictable and repetitive, so the drama portion is certainly not intended for those looking chiefly for a musical experience. The voices are the focus and it's necessary to understand Japanese to appreciate them. They recollect the story prior to Dragon Force and eventually transition to the opening of the game with the haunting interpretation of "Legend of Legendra" complete with background music from the original. The drama is pretty well done, but not intended for most Western audiences.
As for the five instrumental arrangements, they are more enhanced versions of the originals rather than particularly creative and transformative arrangements. However, the arrangement choices were good ones given they tend to inspire powerful imagery. "Astea's Voice", for example, retains the soothing and heavenly qualities of the original. However, the performance of acoustic guitarist Shinichi Iwai brings more humanity to the theme and creates even more pleasant timbres. It's just a pity that the choir has a clearly synthesized sound. "Teiris' Theme" takes a very similar approach with its guitar lead and synth backing. It's so soft and spiritual that it could be classified as new age music, though it's quite middle-of-the-road in terms of quality. Some may find it very fitting for the mild character, but others could find it too sentimental. Then again, most who have played the game will be able to tolerate that sort of thing.
There are some more upbeat entries here too. "Gongos' Theme" sounds better than ever in its version here. The pounding bass line of the original is still emphasised to catchy effect, but the infusions of all sorts of electric and acoustic guitar parts makes the composition far more dynamic. The Dragon Force main theme also makes a return complete with heroic brass and uplifting melodies. However, the incorporation of the acoustic guitar work and quite a bit of bad synth gives it a tacky feel. One can't help but still desire a version performed with true orchestra. The "New History" is also fleshed out in its arranged version at the end of the album. The highlight of this one is Iwai's extravagant electric guitar solo. It's so cheesy, but pretty enjoyable too. Of all the arrangements, this one seems to capture and enhance the feel of the original well and the effect is suitably elating.
The point should be clear already, but let me reiterate. Genesis of Dragon Force ~ GM-Progress 7 will be a good experience for Japanese speakers that played the game and enjoy drama tracks. However, it is not worthwhile for most Westerners since the Japanese drama tracks are predominant. The five arrangements are generally nice, but only a couple go beyond resynthing the originals and adding a soothing guitar performance. I'm not convinced they offer value for money for those who are not interested in the drama tracks. It's a nice commemoration of the Dragon Force saga intended for a very limited audience.
Arranged by Takaaki Yasuoka (安岡孝章), Kakumi Nishigomi (西込加久美)
Guitar: Shinichi Iwai (岩井真一)
Bass: Kakumi Nishigomi (西込加久美)
Kikuko Inoue (井上喜久子)
Mitsuaki Madono (真殿 光昭)
Akira Ishida (石田彰)
Legend of Legendra: Distant Road
Astea's Voice (Arrange Version)
Gongos' Theme (Arrange Version)
Roar of the Black Dragon Incarnate
Teiris' Theme (Arrange Version)
Miral and Fala
In the Space Between Heaven and Earth
Dragon Force -Main Theme- (Arrange Version)
Origin of the Legend (Wein and Teiris)
New History (Arrange Version)
Legend of Legendra [Legendra - Vengeful God Madruk - Blue Dragon Hasgard] (3D Mix)