01 - Azure Revolution
02 - War of Liberation ~Jutland Kingdom~
03 - Jutland Kingdom
04 - Richer
05 - Marching
06 - Mission Start
07 - Young Soldiers Charging Towards Victory
08 - Threat of the Ruzhien Empire
09 - Mission Succeeded
10 - Imperial City Elsinore
11 - Anti Valkyria Headquarters
12 - Drifting to Tender Memories
13 - Sabanci & Company
14 - Claudius' Ambition
15 - Attack
16 - Company in Suspicion
17 - Lacrimosa ~ Tears to Dust
18 - Pledged Revenge
19 - Battle with Maxim
01 - Enlivened City
02 - Romance of Two
03 - Cozy Time
04 - Undue Power
05 - Battlefield
06 - Bruising Mission
07 - The Four Generals
08 - Crisis of the Imperial City
09 - Rest
10 - Vanargand
11 - Feel My Wrath
12 - War of Liberation ~The Ruzhien Empire~
13 - Requiem in the Dark Night ~Presage and Death~
14 - Immortal Valkyria ~Death Testament~
15 - Mission Failed
16 - These Gentle Fields
17 - War in the Name of "Liberation"
18 - VALKYRIA ~The Power of Destruction~
19 - To the End of Deep Sorrow
20 - Eternal Rest
Yasunori Mitsuda is one of the giants of game music composition. From early on in his 20-plus-year career, he has consistently demonstrated his penchant for small and large scale ensembles in both contemporary and traditional styles. He has coached stellar performances out of world-class and in-house orchestras and garnered the imagination of countless musicians and cover artists. Mitsuda's passion for musical storytelling and touching his listeners has been realized again and again. Suffice to say, when given an orchestra, Mitsuda delivers.
The soundtrack to VALKYRIA: Azure Revolution is one such delivery. Fully orchestrated with performances by the Tokyo Symphonic Orchestra, Mitsuda presents 100 minutes of military and contemporary orchestral stylings reminiscent of themes from 20th and 21st century military history and cinema. Each track is well balanced and makes great use of the orchestra.
Accompanying the orchestra for a handful of pieces is Sarah Àlainn, an Australian singer/violinist and member of Mitsuda's band, Millennial Fair. She provides an airy soprano, distinct accent, and imaginative lyrics. Sarah's vocal tracks stand out as something special in the album. Each is operatic, spoken from the viewpoint of a character. The result is haunting and makes these pieces the highlight of the album.
Outside of these vocalized tracks, however, large portions of the album are forgettable. While it does what it does very well, it does it in a style that is fully expected for the themes involved and lacks unique melodic character. The soundtrack could just as easily be for any of the more recent Metal Gear games, or some dramatic thriller to hit the big screen, as for VALKYRIA. This leaves the album open to criticism as sounding generic, or at least unoriginal, despite the consistently superior quality.
I would have liked to see a bit more experimentation and stronger hints of Mitsuda's unique tonal blends here. For me, this album stands in contrast to his work on the Xeno series under Monolith Software. There, the quality is not as consistently high, but each soundtrack stands out more than VALKYRIA's. That said, Mitsuda composes for the story and VALKYRIA is a war drama. The music is appropriate and contributes to the tone of the setting.
As to whether you should buy it or not, it is an excellent work, but I am more inclined to suggest it to fans of movie scores or game music generally and not necessarily to fans of Mitsuda's work in particular. Overall, the album sounds like any of several other well-experienced composers could have created it, and it only occasionally captures hints of a distinctly Mitsuda-ish sound. The vocal tracks stand out as worth listening to multiple times, but there are only a handful so they don't really justify the purchase of the album. In short, someone looking for a superior orchestral score will not be disappointed, but someone looking for something unique and with strong melodies may be left wanting.
Reviewed by: Ronald Buie