NEEDLESS Original Soundtrack – I got you under my skin – Review

NEEDLESS Album Cover

Album Title: NEEDLESS Original Soundtrack – I got you under my skin
Anime Title: NEEDLESS
Artist: Masaaki Iizuka (e-ZUKA)
Catalog Number: LASA-5012
Release Type: Soundtrack
Release Date: September 30, 2009


Track List:

Show »

Track Title Artist Time
1. Raging Flames Misaki Iizuka 3:05
2. Assailant in the Night Misaki Iizuka 3:45
3. LIQUID GROOVE Misaki Iizuka 3:17
4. COUNTDOWN Misaki Iizuka 2:47
5. The Moon of a Silence Misaki Iizuka 3:03
6. COLD ARMY Misaki Iizuka 3:04
7. VISION Misaki Iizuka 3:23
8. Vital Vision in the Spanish Desert Misaki Iizuka 3:10
9. Sleeps in Madness Misaki Iizuka 2:12
10. Elephant’s Scream Misaki Iizuka 3:23
11. eZ MSC Misaki Iizuka 1:47
12. Slave of Your Ghost Misaki Iizuka 3:55
13. Confusion Misaki Iizuka 3:52
14. CHASING TRUTH Misaki Iizuka 3:53

Review: Rock music isn’t a genre that’s typically associated with anime music beyond the sea of J-rock OPs and EDs. Other than those, you’d be hard-pressed to name a soundtrack in which electric guitar riffs feature prominently. Geneshaft will usually be mentioned as one of the few that do, and now comes NEEDLESS’s soundtrack, which sports an excellent array of rock tracks that will draw you in and hold your attention. Masaaki Iizuka, who also goes by e-ZUKA, should be commended for this soundtrack, which channels a sense of ferocity and intensity perfectly. As I listen to this, I imagine that even if these tracks don’t exceed Geneshaft’s level of quality (I’ve not listened to Geneshaft’s OST), they’re going to come pretty darn close since there aren’t any tracks that I would consider to be weak or boring.

Take for instance the first track “Raging Flames,” which starts off quite strongly with a fast-paced rhythm that works with the melody and guitar riffs to depict that intensity borne from a face to face battle between two hated rivals. The amount of energy that this track pours forth will keep you enthralled, but what really stands out is the guitar playing towards the end of the track as the tempo keeps on going up and e-ZUKA doesn’t miss a beat as he takes the already high amount of badassery to the next level. Impressive the whole way through, “Raging Flames” offers a taste of what’s to come, providing that very strong first impression.

Raging Flames

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As you dig deeper into the soundtrack, it’s the frenetic guitar work that makes this album such an awesome experience. I am not fan of rock music, and because of that, it’s hard for me to judge whether e-ZUKA’s technique constitutes a virtuoso performance. So without much background knowledge to lean upon, I can only say that many of the passages leave me in awe. “COUNTDOWN,” in particular displays some really awesome guitar solo parts towards the middle of the piece as the notes get shorter, creating the feeling that the tempo is purposefully sped up until it feels like the rhythm guitar is flying at a manic pace. The grim feelings that this track imparts is conveyed well as it maintains a high level of intensity that has characterized many of the tracks thus far.

COUNTDOWN

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Furthermore, the show’s shounen roots will yield some tracks that work to convey a sense of purpose. “VISION” primes us for this by sounding somewhat upbeat before moving into a melody that could depict the characters’ resolve as they proactively seek to achieve their aims. This image is even more pronounced in “Vital Mission in the Spanish Desert” which starts off with a fast rhythm before settling on a guitar solo that carries with it a sense of purpose and propels the piece forward. In listening to this, there’s a slight bit of a Spanish flavor that one can pick out, helping to bring some variety to the soundtrack. It also doesn’t hurt that the way e-ZUKA shows off his shredding ability on the guitar comes off sounding really impressive, making you want to catch every single note that comes forth.

Vital Mission in the Spanish Desert

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The ambiance is also present in this soundtrack and manifests itself quite nicely. “The Moon of a Silence,” for example, creates a foreboding aura as it aims for a slower pace as it uses the electric guitar to depict a menacing presence. This atmosphere continues in “Sleeps in Madness,” where the guitar plays intermittently to create a feeling of uncertainty. The other instruments that comprise the background add to this by creating a ghastly aura that depicts tormented spirits howling in despair. The piece never ends conclusively, leaving that creepy feeling to linger on. Finally, you’ll come to “Slave of your Ghost” which is as oppressive as its title suggests by bearing you down with spiritual burdens through a harsh, dissonant melody that feels as though one’s soul was being crushed by some overwhelming force.

Sleeps in Madness

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But inevitably, all will end well, and “CHASING TRUTH” wraps things up nicely through a celebratory tone. The rhythms sound upbeat for a change and the piece lacks a sense of urgency. While there are some points that allow the characters (and the listener!) to reflect on all the events that have happened, the overarching theme provides a sense of relief as though to show that the heroes have succeeded against all odds and can take their well-deserved break.

CHASING TRUTH

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As I listened to this soundtrack, my mind kept drifting towards an enjoyable rock video game soundtrack that has seen continuous play time on my music player: Guilty Gear XX. In comparing the two, I’d say that NEEDLESS’s soundtrack’s quality comes close to matching Guilty Gear’s level of quality. It isn’t enough to make me want to watch the series to see the music presented in its proper context, but the intense electric guitar shredding and consistency that each track displays will have me coming back for repeat listens.

Rating: Excellent

zzeroparticle

Anime Instrumentality's Founder and Editor-in-Chief. As you can probably guess, I'm a big anime music junkie with a special love for composers who've put out some beautiful melodies to accompany some of my favorite anime series. I tend to gravitate towards music in the classical style with Joe Hisaishi and Yoko Kanno being a few of my favorite composers, but I've come to appreciate jazz and rock as anime music has widened my tastes.

20 thoughts on “NEEDLESS Original Soundtrack – I got you under my skin – Review

  • November 7, 2009 at 10:23 pm
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    hmm, the title of the album… How nostalgic!

    Hmm, Geneshaft… that’s (sort of) old, too! I watched that one back in my early anime-days (dubbed…), so I don’t remember the soundtrack at all. Either case, the samples that you have for Needless are pretty good, but like you, I don’t have a good background in rock, so I can’t say much. Only spam.

    /spam

    (maybe I should check it out :3)

    Reply
  • November 7, 2009 at 11:54 pm
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    @Jesus159159159
    Note to self: must google album titles. I never would have guessed that they took this one from a Frank Sinatra song :3

    YES! If you’re rock-minded, this is one that is definitely worth checking out. And even for those of us who aren’t rock-inclined, it makes for a good change of pace. :p

    Reply
  • November 8, 2009 at 9:19 am
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    awesome!

    Do you have the download links for these songs? thx b4

    Reply
  • November 8, 2009 at 12:06 pm
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    @zzeroparticle

    Well, the Sinatra thing is probably some weird coincidence. I doubt that this rocker would reference him (although it’s possible… the skeleton does have a hat, but that’s pretty much it. btw, love the hat, definitely love the hat! :P)

    Reply
  • November 8, 2009 at 12:41 pm
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    @Jesus159159159
    Well, keep in mind, musicians looooove referencing each other! Like how Yoko Kanno love referencing John Williams who loves referencing Holst on occasion. Definitely need to agree with the hat! Black fedoras give off that vibe only hard-boiled detectives can exude. And hard-boiled detectives are awesome!

    Reply
  • November 8, 2009 at 3:06 pm
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    “Chasing Truth” reminds me of Whitesnake in the mid-80’s. Great harmonies throughout this piece. Not bad at all!

    Reply
  • November 8, 2009 at 10:32 pm
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    @RobFonner
    Awesome! Glad to have someone knowledgeable drop by! I decided for the hell of it to listen to some of their works and I have to say that their tendency for writing introspective rock pieces that carry that emphatic vibe is a good analog to “Chasing Truth.” Let me know if you ever take a shot at some of the other pieces on this soundtracks since it looks to me like there are a lot of insights you can offer here :)

    Reply
  • November 9, 2009 at 4:25 am
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    This soundtrack actually did not do it much for me. I think in general I just was never particularly interested in this genre of fast paced rock type.
    I prefer lighter rock.

    Reply
  • November 9, 2009 at 11:35 am
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    @Yi
    Yeah, to each their own. One of the highlights that drew me to rate this one so highly is the virtuosic (sp?) performances and I tend to be easily awed when someone is able to demonstrate a high amount of control over their instrument while having the music remain coherent. It could be any instrument really, like guitar, violin, or piano. Not surprisingly, my favorite genre of works tend to be concertos where you’ll see these virtuoso performances.

    Reply
  • November 10, 2009 at 12:03 am
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    I don’t really listen to rock music, but I find this to be pretty good. Reminds me of battle music in video games.

    Now I need to go look into NEEDLESS since I just randomly decided to not watch it before.

    Reply
  • November 11, 2009 at 2:06 pm
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    @Reltair
    Sakuraba perhaps? I still maintain that stylistically, this soundtrack is closer to that of Guilty Gear, but then again, most of the music from that game are battle themes for each of the stages, so I guess that counts.

    Also, you have been warned about watching NEEDLESS. Don’t fall for it! =0

    Reply
  • November 13, 2009 at 5:08 pm
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    Good stuff! – this kind of stuff (regardless of technical difficulty) is pretty rare in anime nowadays from what I’ve seen.

    Reply
  • November 14, 2009 at 5:18 am
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    I love this kind of music !!

    Do you know any other instrumental game/rock style music like this?

    Reply
  • November 14, 2009 at 11:22 am
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    @lelangir
    Hear hear. I love symphonic stuff, piano, and the sprinkling of choro music as much as the next person, so it’s rare to find a soundtrack that manages to derive its energy from the electric guitar. One of these days, I’ll have to make time to give Geneshaft my full attention.

    @Mark
    Hmmm… I’d suggest looking to Guilty Gear’s music by Daisuke Ishiwatari. His music on Blazblue is also damn awesome and I highly recommend it. On the anime front, like I mentioned, Geneshaft might be up your alley, so definitely give that a shot. I can’t say for myself though since I haven’t listened to it.

    Reply
  • Pingback: Kemono no Souja Erin Original Soundtrack – Review | Anime Instrumentality Blog

  • December 12, 2009 at 12:43 pm
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    “It isn’t enough to make me want to watch the series to see the music presented in its proper context”
    *Facepalm

    Reply
  • April 23, 2011 at 4:57 am
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    This particularly soundtrack is tasty, and I personally think this is better than anything Ishiwatari has done. Maybe it’s partly because e-zuka is just a better guitarist, and this OST doesn’t stick too much to the theme, which can either make or break a song. It sounds like different songs on a single album.

    By the way, my favorite track is CHASING TRUTH. Images of flying chariots having battles with dragons in the sky while making their way to Valhalla flash to me. I remember practicing this song on my guitar to hell, on one free Sunday.

    Reply
    • April 24, 2011 at 9:37 am
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      @roy
      You’ll have to post your cover of that song now :3

      But really glad to hear that there are people who do actively try to keep their ears open for good electric guitar instrumentals. For me, I like Ishiwatari and e-zuka about equally, but only because once I reach a certain level, it’s hard to discern great from outstanding, so good to have you here to give me the pointers about what out there really kicks ass.

      Reply
  • April 25, 2011 at 6:56 am
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    I’ll prolly post that someday, I just need to get my guitar and my rig back

    Guitar has always been a essential part of my idea of Japanese music, so I do try to actively seek out for good electric guitar instrumentals in that regard as much as possible. And maybe I was a tad harsh on my last comment, comparing a musician to another musician is of purely personal preference. I like Ishiwatari too, but his stuff does not impress me as much as e-zuka’s, or his band in particular.

    And as for pointers, too bad I can’t give you anything related to your scope of work. Metal just isn’t something you hear in anime soundtracks often.

    Reply

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