SOULCALIBUR SUITE - The Resonance of Souls and Swords

SOULCALIBUR SUITE - The Resonance of Souls and Swords. Front (small). Click to zoom.
SOULCALIBUR SUITE - The Resonance of Souls and Swords
Front (small)
Composed by Junichi Nakatsuru / Keiki Kobayashi
Arranged by Shiro Hamaguchi
Published by Namco Bandai Games
Release type Game Soundtrack - Official Release
Format 1 Digital - 3 tracks
Release date September 1, 2009
Duration 00:14:22
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Soul Calibur - The Resonance of Souls and Swords is an orchestral suite inspired by the Soul Calibur series. It features three movements that contain a mixture of new music and series' classics composed by the series' sound director Junichi Nakatsuru. Shiro Hamaguchi — the man behind most of Final Fantasy's concert arrangements — elegantly orchestrated the compositions for full orchestral performance. Returning from the Soul Calibur IV Original Soundtrack, Hiroaki Yura's Eminence Symphony Orchestra are responsible for bringing the compositions to life. The resultant three tracks were released on iTunes through the Namco Sounds label at the start of September. With such a legendary team, does it live up to expectation?


The first composition "Bearer of Fate" sets the epic cinematic tone one would expect from a Soul Calibur opening while recounting source material from Soul Calibur III. There is an ambient introduction dominated by suspended strings and ominous snares based on the theme "Tales of Souls and Swords". The orchestra undergo a crescendo culminating in the introduction of a march based on "No Regrets" at the 0:27. The brass fiercely and grandiosely present the melody, reflecting the fighting spirit of the series, while the woodwind countermelodies reflect the deeper background of the fighters. The sweeping chord changes at 1:05 reflect Hamaguchi at his best and the subsequent dark interlude really embellishes the fantasy sound. From 1:54, the solo trumpet takes the lead with a soft yet courageous rendition of "Hour of Destiny" while Yura's strings offer dense counterpoint. From 2:23, the composition undergoes another transition into a driving theme in the style of a Hollywood action movie, while the Western influence continues with the bellowing low brass and gorgeous woodwind fluorishes later on. After all the twists and turns, there is a reprise of the main theme from 3:18 that builds up from a romantic lyrical passage into a rousing unpredictable climax. Overall, a composition, orchestration, and performance that satisfies in entertaining listeners while reflecting the various emotions of the series.

"Voice of the Wind" is the slow movement on the album. The first minute of the theme is dedicated to a contemplative solo based on Soul Calibur III's "The Oath" by steel-stringed guitarist Roger Lock. Those who have played the series might start to reminisce about their experiences as each string is plucked. From 1:02, the composition develops to incorporate wailing flute solos, soft string backing, and occasional snare rolls, but the guitar remains the focus. The second half of the movement is more reminiscent of an orchestra and chorus piece written for a Western game music production. The chorus performance brings even more humanity and worldliness to the suite, comparable in sound to many of the Echoes of War pieces. The orchestra initially takes a backseat, but brisk percussion rhythms and string crisis motifs build up to a brass-decorated peak around the 3:15 mark. Of course, two major build-ups is not enough for Eminence and they choose to make things one touch more bold with a final section. Of course, Shiro Hamaguchi executes it perfectly and the orchestra bring out all the emotions within each of his notes. Despite being a split piece, "Voice of the Wind" is gorgeously produced and the most deep and emotional entry on the album.

The final movement is, of course, the grand finale. The orchestra initially create a sense of turbulence with their brisk repetition of a string crisis motif, brutal low brass parts, and yet more snare rolls. It abruptly gives way to a surprise rendition of Keiki Kobayashi's "Phantasmagoria" from Soul Calibur IV. Given Eminence previously performed this piece before for the game, most should know what to expect, though Hamaguchi introduces a few intricacies. While the core theme certainly conveys brutality, it was the beautiful development section that was most attractive in the original and unfortunately Nakatsuru chose to omit it. Nevertheless, listeners are in for an original highlight with an introspective version of the track, but it doesn't have quite the same lyrical flow as before. The second half of the composition recollects Soul Calibur's "Light & Darkness" in a more bombastic tone. This time, Hamaguchi's orchestration really embellishes the fighting feel and ancient setting of the game, whereas earlier tracks had a more contemporary sound. He brings an excellent mix of classical tradition and cinematic conventions. The suspenseful final few moments of the theme seem to announce that listeners should expect even more from Eminence and Namco in the future.


Soul Calibur - The Resonance of Souls and Swords is a worthwhile purchase for fans of the series' music. It certainly reflects the emotions and gameplay of the Soul Calibur series while also referencing a few familiar themes. Shiro Hamaguchi's orchestration is technically solid and brings a mixture of classical, modernist, and cinematic influences to the series. In addition, it is so emotional when combined with the Eminence Symphony Orchestra's epic and evocative performances. Some themes are possibly a bit too cinematic for certain tastes, but in general it should appeal to those who liked the Soul Calibur soundtracks and want even more of that raw sound. Listeners are given three high quality five minute suites for just three dollars, so it's a bargain if you don't mind digital downloads. In the meantime, I'll look forward to what Eminence have to offer on the A Night in Fantasia 2009 concert and album.


Music in game


Chris Greening

iTunes release.
Only available in the USA and Japan.

Produced and Directed by Hiroaki Yura
Recorded at Trackdown Scoring Stage, Sydney, Australia
Album was composed by Junichi Nakatsuru / Keiki Kobayashi and was released on September 1, 2009. Soundtrack consists of 3 tracks tracks with duration over about 15 minutes. Album was released by Namco Bandai Games.

CD 1

Bearer of Fate
Voice of the Wind
Decisive Souls
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