Fate/Zero Original Soundtrack I – Review

The next track, “let the stars fall down,” picks up right where “Point Zero” leaves off by immersing the listener into the action, first with a sense of urgency from the violins, then with the chorus. The serene beauty the chorus evokes is at odds with the whole notion of the conflict in Fate/Zero, but the image it conjures fits the gracefulness of the combatants’ form and their high-minded ideals struggling to maintain their place amidst the brutality. More action can be had in “the battle is to the strong,” with its use of a steady percussive rhythm, an intense string melody, and later, an electric guitar riff to dictate the flow of battle. Here, the strings weave an elaborate, entrancing dance while the guitar engages the listener with a ferocity that’s fitting of Fate/Zero’s battles.

let the stars fall down

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the battle is to the strong

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Though the first half of the disc is marked with a healthy dose of action, there are a few tracks to relieve the listener from the constant onslaught like “the legend’s” odyssey-like nature and the mellower “little drop of peace.” Some of the better tracks come in the sorrowful aftermath of the battles. Few Kajiura tracks are more effective at conveying tragedy better than “grief,” which sheds light on the loss of life and innocence in the face of pragmatic, but ruthless measures through a poignant piano melody. “The beginning of the end” takes a cue from “grief,” working the motif to build up to a hopeful, but tentative note, suggesting that some good may come out of the Holy Grail War after all, even if the tone isn’t wholly convincing in this belief.

the beginning of the end

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Given all that has come so far, it’s safe to say that the first half of the soundtrack features a good mix of atmosphere and melodic delights to savor and set the foundation for the conflict. It’s a shame, then, that the middle tracks don’t advance the epic conflicts further, turning instead to ambient tracks that make sense within the context of the anime, but are hardly memorable outside of it. Tracks like “rabble-rousers,” with its hollow synth-y sound accompanied by the occasional bell, and “an eerie enemy,” with its synth to draw forth an ominous mood, exemplify this trend towards pieces which clearly serve a purpose, but carry little enjoyment.

rabble-rousers

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In short, I’ve heard this song and dance before. At her best, Kajiura’s atmospheric tracks are evocative and engaging, especially when the melody shifts in a way that lets you explore the many facets of a given mood, scene, or character. But when faced with the likes of “back to the wall” and its dull, unresolved energy and “secret maneuvers,” which offers an outflow of melancholia with no real resolution (see a pattern here?), that’s when Fate/Zero’s score leaves me fidgeting and impatient for something more interesting to come along. It’s annoying when a track like “assassin,” which has the potential to wow me with exotic Middle Eastern influences, turns into a disjointed affair, making it less engaging a work overall.

secret maneuvers

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At the end of the day, I’ll keep to Fate/Zero’s melody-heavy tracks that display a modicum of development. “Rule the battlefield” works in this regard even if the melody doesn’t change all that much, starting with a regal air that conjures images of a king descending from the heavens, switching to a more tragic-sounding version of the regal theme, and ending on a somber, but determined note. But more than that, its grandiose aura separates itself from other Kajiura tracks, making it uniquely identifiable to something from Fate/Zero.

rule the battlefield

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