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Yoshiki Aoi – “Drag-on Dragoon 2 OST” Review

Drag-on Dragoon 2 is the completely orchestrated soundtrack from Yoshiki Aoi. The 22 tracks are a complete attack on the sense’s as an entire orchestra and full-sized choir rampage as much power and tension on you as possible.

“Symphonic Poem Forbidden Prelude” opens the soundtrack is a huge way. Everything is thrown into the mix in this tense and powerful piece. It is perfectly balanced and very well produced losing none of its grandeur at any stage. The timpani, low brass and stabbing strings really bring out panic in the listener and it is honestly one of the best orchestral pieces I have ever listened to.

“Fate” is a classically played piano based piece with sweeping woodwind and strings that then push the piano to the background. This is one of the few tracks which shows grace, pride and empathy and really stands out because of that – along with a beautiful melody for most of the tune.

“Plains of Pity” is a strange one because it uses an orchestral dance paced beat and war chants over a brass tune which gives it a completely unique sound. Once again its full of drama and tension and completely hams it up. “Reminiscence is Madness” follows a similar line of thought and tune but is more string based.

“Old Tombstone” brings in what sounds like ancient Erhu’s and Guzhengs for a maddened piece of out of tune chord progressions and some beautiful piano interludes. It took me a few listens to get this piece but once I got it, it became a favourite for me. Almost like an evil fairground ride theme.

“Valley of Avidya” is a downbeat sorrow filled string piece with what sounds like a guzheng improvisation in the distant background. This track is welcome as a pace slower because all the other tracks really go for it, so this is needed to stop the soundtrack becoming too much for the listener.

“Formidable Enemy” returns to our orchestra and choir who go all guns blazing into this waltz battle theme. Another excellent track. “Vein of Grief” uses a military beat to stand out from the others with waves of strings and discordant wind instruments to create more tension and confusion. While some of the tracks on this soundtrack sound out of tune, it’s never to the point of it being unlistenable – it’s always off kilter for a reason.

“Sadness” is sombre piece as the title suggests but it doesn’t sit still with ambient strings and harps to a mechanical drumloop. “Exhausted ~On the Holy Land~” continues with the harp as a calming instrument for this beautiful piece underscored by piano and later given a voice by flutes and strings. In contrast “Exhausted ~The Broken Past~” has a much sharper tone to it using various themes from before in the soundtrack to reprise and give you what is essentially a main theme now.

“Abysmal Earth” once again cranks things up to the max. If you don’t like pounding over the top orchestration then I suggest you don’t buy this soundtrack because the same premise is then used in “Furious Earth” and gain although much more slower but still overscored “Twilight Hill” (all about the strings here).

“The End of the Conclusion” however gives us guitar and what sounds like a computerised bass! It’s certainly different to the others and it was a wickedly dark melody and is a standout track.

“Impatience” starts off with a furious keyboard and ambience before going into a completely abstract piece equal orchestral ambience (much like Clock Tower music) and random almost comical sections (ala Voodoo Vince) which is an interesting combination. “Exploration” is more of a background track with experimental percussion loops thrown over it – much like a dungeon track actually before “Breakthrough” returns to the all singing all dancing full orchestration for another rousing piece that goes at well over 100 miles an hour with some stunning musical work.

“Unrest” gives us another ambient experiment using that faithful horror movie glass moving noise before “Final Battle” goes percussion mad for its final piece.

The final track on the soundtrack is “Hitori” sung by Mika Nakashima which is a soft jazz song with sultry smooth vocals and a nice tune. Not a personal favourite of my vocal tracks but definitely a good song.

Drag-on Dragoon is all about power and orchestration. While it does do other things the majority of the soundtrack is about pounding out as much as you can as grandly as you can. This does for orchestra’s what The Black Mages did for stadium rock so if you think you can stomach it and are prepared for a tension filled ride – go for it!

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