Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Daisuke Ishiwatari - BlazBlue in L.A. Vocal Edition


Now this is a somewhat stranger one for me, but honestly, this gets a ton of playtime from me.  Daisuke Ishiwatari is best known for being the brains behind the popular Guilty Gear series of fighting games, wherein he wrote all of the music, designed the characters, and voiced the main antagonist.  A few years back, he but that series to rest and started up the new franchise, BlazBlue.  Now, I've always had an interest in Guilty Gear but never had an opportunity to play it, but I've been all up on BlazBlue's dick for a while now.  It's the most overtly Japanese thing I own, with characters including a loli with a giant magic wand and multiple personalities, a doctor with gigantic tits and a sentient six foot pole who is in love with an amorphous, black blob who is hell bent on eating everything, a catgirl with no face, no pants, and bright red panties who fondles and comments on every female character's boobs, an android girl with swords for wings and gold plated pubes, and my personal favorite, a half squirrel teenage girl with DDD cups and enough underboob to smother an entire family.  As much as I like ridiculous crap and overly technical fighting games that I'll never be good at (seriously, if you can do Arakune's 160 hit combo, you are either lying or you are a fucking freak), that actually isn't what initially drew me to the series.  No sir, it was the power metal soundtrack.  And while I definitely recommend checking out the original soundtracks for Calamity Trigger and Continuum Shift (including Extend, for the extra seventeen songs), for established fans, we have this neat little bonus album, BlazBlue in L.A. Vocal Edition.

All this really means is that eleven tracks from the previous soundtracks have been chosen and given vocal parts, that's all.  It's kind of a pointless cash grab, really, considering there's really no new music on display.  Nothing is rerecorded or rearranged or anything.  It's just the original tracks with a singer on top, belting out absurdly retarded and literal lyrics pertaining to the characters that each song represents.  That is without a doubt the worst part about the album, the completely mangled Engrish nonsense lyrics.  It shouldn't really matter in the long run, but that's really the entire point of the album at hand (to add vocals and lyrics to already written songs), it's kind of a huge problem.  Some of them I guess I can't be too mad at, like "Black Onslaught", because it did originally have terrible lyrics, they're just now sung by a much more competent singer. 

Oh yeah, there are three different singers here, all of varying degrees of quality.  First off we have the male vocalist with a super clean and nasally yet somehow still midranged voice who takes on tracks 1, 3, 8, 9, and 10, the male vocalist with some semblance of grit and energy who sadly only appears on tracks 2, 4, and 7, and lastly we have the female vocalist with a one octave range who tackles tracks 5 and 6.  The first male vocalist and the female vocalist duet track 11 together.  As I've alluded, that second vocalist is by far my favorite and is far better suited to the heavier tracks on display, so it's no surprise that "Gluttony Fang", "Susanoh", and "Black Onslaught" are the best tracks here.  Everything here is pretty uptempo power metal, but those three stand as the heaviest, with "Black Onslaught" just being a straight up melodeath song.  In fact, "Gluttony Fang" is by far the best track on the album period, as the riff at 0:17 is legitimately one of the better ones I've heard recently, and the completely awkward and ill fitting piano parts have been replaced with actual vocals.  I kind of wished they'd've done "Thin RED Line" for that same reason, though the strange cacophonous piano fits that track a bit more.

And while I'm whining about the track selection, "Rubble Song"?  Really?  Who listens to this high octane melodic power/melodeath soundtrack and says "Man, you know what would really hit the spot right now? A BALLAD!".  Get that shit out of here, son, it totally fucks up the flow of the album here.  Why couldn't they have chosen something like "Gale"?  At least that one is really upbeat and fun.  I should be in charge of this shit. 

But really, I'm nitpicking.  The new vocals don't really detract from anything, and most of the time add a fun new dimension to the songs fans already enjoy.  Sometimes the new melodies are really great, like "Under Heaven Destruction", while some others really suck, like "Awakening the Chaos".  In fact, that last one is the only song that really suffers from adding vocals, with the female vocals desperately lacking in range and just sounding horridly atonal in the most inappropriate spots, obscuring the incredibly engaging choirs of the original version.  That one dud aside, the rest of the album is very fun and cohesive, managing not to sound like a mere collection of tracks from a soundtrack and instead like a full album with just a bunch of guest singers.  There isn't a whole lot in the way of creativity, and the compositions are all structured pretty standardly, but it's well done enough to still be enjoyable.  Even with that said, I feel this is probably for fans of the games only, as most of these tracks won't mean much to non-fans (though I maintain that "Gluttony Fang" is a legitimately awesome track along with "Under Heaven Destruction", "Black Onslaught", and "Susanoh".  I'd definitely recommend starting with the original soundtracks, so as to get some great tunes that were left out of this compilation, like "Bullet Dance", "Thin RED Line", "Imperial Code", "Gale", and most importantly, the instrumental version of "Awakening the Chaos". 

RATING - 70%


  1. I'm a big fan of the GG soundtrack, but you should've reviewed the Blazeblue album before this one due to one song. "Bang the Nail With Your Hammer " That song alone deserves all praise!

    1. Bang, for being such a silly character, really does get all the best theme songs doesn't he? "Gale" is pretty much my favorite track in the whole series apart from "Imperial Code".