Attack on Titan Original Soundtrack – Bombastically Fitting, but Underwhelming

attack on titan soundtrack cover

Album Title: Attack on Titan Original Soundtrack
Anime Title: Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin)
Artist: Hiroyuki Sawano, Mika Kobayashi, mpi, Aimee Blackschleger, Cyua,
CASG (Caramel Apple Sound Gadget)
Catalog Number: PCCG-01351
Release Type: Soundtrack
Release Date: June 28, 2013
Purchase at: CDJapan, Play-Asia


Tracklist

Show »

Track Title Artist Time
01. ət’æk 0N tάɪtn (Vocal: MIKA KOBAYASHI) Hiroyuki Sawano 4:17
02. The Reluctant Heroes (Vocal mpi) Hiroyuki Sawano 4:27
03. eye-water Hiroyuki Sawano 3:01
04. 立body機motion Hiroyuki Sawano 5:43
05. cóunter・attàck-m’ænkάɪnd Hiroyuki Sawano 6:07
06. army⇒G♂ Hiroyuki Sawano 3:26
07. Vogel im Käfig (Vocal Cyua) Hiroyuki Sawano 6:20
08. DOA (Vocal AIMEE BLACKSCHLEGER) Hiroyuki Sawano 3:26
09. 凸】♀】♂】←巨人 Hiroyuki Sawano 4:21
10. E・M・A Hiroyuki Sawano 5:43
11. 巨♀~9地区 Hiroyuki Sawano 5:15
12. Bauklötze (Vocal MIKA KOBAYASHI) Hiroyuki Sawano 3:56
13. 2chi城 Hiroyuki Sawano 6:48
14. XL-TT Hiroyuki Sawano 6:37
15. Call your name (Vocal mpi & CASG ) Hiroyuki Sawano 4:28
16. omake-pfadlib Hiroyuki Sawano 3:32

Review: After listening to Hiroyuki Sawano’s compositions for Attack on Titan, I’ve concluded that this soundtrack is absolutely unpretentious. Sawano’s music, on its own, is nothing special. There are few subtle appeals to emotion since his pieces are raw and loud, getting in your face without showing a twinge of shyness. In doing so, they perfectly depict Attack on Titan’s gritty, harrowing atmosphere, where the eponymous monstrosities keep humanity cowering behind city walls that seemingly delay rather than prevent the inevitable. And when you do have appeals to emotion, they’re serviceable during the initial listen, but quickly de-evolve into cheesiness upon closer inspection.

So while this soundtrack is anything but subtle, its grandiosity appeals to that primitive part of my being that yearns to break free and wreak havoc. The first track, “ət’æk 0N tάɪtn”, is completely unabashed in this regard; the electronica growls and rumbles make way for a dread chorus that intensifies the danger, highlighting the dire straits in which humanity finds itself. After the suspenseful first half, the piece blazes away, complete with a sound comparable to many an ostentatious Hollywood score. Mika Kobayashi’s entry shatters any remaining restraint, unleashing a ferocious torrent of passion and energy that reeks of the desperation you sense from a cornered animal with nothing left to lose. While it’s hardly an exemplar of melodic refinement, “ət’æk 0N tάɪtn” is evocative, thereby succeeding in putting a very strong stamp on the album.

ət’æk 0N tάɪtn

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Impressive though the piece is, it’s even more impressive when compared to many other tracks of its general bent on this soundtrack simply because of its greater emphasis on melody over purely rhythmic measures. “立body機motion’s” harsh rhythm bodes poorly because of its repetitiveness and intermittent blares. Although the piece opens up, heralding a sense of majesty and, appropriately enough, motion to bring energy and excitement to the fore, that melodic moment is too fleeting; the piece reverts back to a rhythm-heavy interlude that, as a person who prefers melodies to rhythms that lack a novel premise, is of little interest. A similar problem afflicts “凸】♀】♂】←巨人” which brings little more than an ambient piece with smatterings of the acoustic guitar you’ll hear during the eyecatch to keep the track absorbing.

立body機motion

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The sense of compositional balance is also off in certain tracks. “E・M・A” is a prime example in which the choral hooting and hollering becomes obnoxious as it detracts from an otherwise enjoyable track with its majestic trumpet fanfares and string soundscape. But what’s even worse is that the piece goes off to a section with an enjoyable Middle Eastern that and then makes an unexpected turn into a measure in which electronica squeals and wails become extremely annoying to have to deal with all the way to the end. Also, while the electronica’s inability to draw me into “巨♀~9地区” is a pretty huge strike against it despite the decently-executed brassy swells, the appearance of a siren-like blare about three-fourths of the way through make the remainder of the track a segment to skip. Honestly, I’d prefer tracks take the form of “XL-TT” which does extremely well in crafting the aura of dread through the overwrought ominous chorus, heavy chords, and the bells to evoke the titanic titan’s impending arrival.

E・M・A

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XL-TT

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Finally, I did mention that there are bouts of cheesiness, which lie mostly in mpi’s vocals. “The Reluctant Heroes,” while as tragic and reeking of desperation as one might expect through its melody, becomes silly when one takes a closer listen to lyrics like:

It was like a nightmare
It’s painful for me
Because nobody wants to die too fast
Remember the day of grief
Now it’s strange for me
I could see your face
I could hear your voice

which are sung with a really thick Engrish influence. Mpi’s followup, “Call your name” is hardly better as his emo-y tendencies during the stanzas rob the song of its impact. “DOA’s” effort, featuring Aimee Blackschleger (whose performance on Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt’s soundtrack is rather prominent) is slightly better, but when the lyrics go like:

Can’t you see over there?
Such a horrible sight
They’re devouring all like you
Here come the giant hands
Breaking through the wall
As dawn arrives
We still survive
Nobody knows what’s going on
Tearing my town, limb by limb
Where are your mom and dad?

I’m reminded more of Monty Python than the fear one experiences when your loved ones are being mauled by giant humanoids.

The Reluctant Heroes

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Oh well. Even with tracks like the poignant “omake-pfadlib” and the ethnically interesting “2chi城,” which combines measures of East Asian melodies before transitioning to a lively dance festival, Attack on Titan’s soundtrack is largely a disappointment. A disappointment because I expected much more structurally sound compositions from Hiroyuki Sawano or, short of that, bombastically satisfying music rather than bland electronica or repetitive rhythms. He, who composed the loud, yet satisfying Gundam Unicorn soundtrack and the widely-praised score for Guilty Crown and Ao no Exorcist, is capable of much better. Perhaps a part of me simply wishes that Sawano’s music, on its own, measures up to the context in which it’s used.

2chi城

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Rating: Decent

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.

32 thoughts on “Attack on Titan Original Soundtrack – Bombastically Fitting, but Underwhelming

  • September 15, 2013 at 8:58 am
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    I usually like Sawano’s work but this soundtrack is pretty trashy overall. It’s overly loud with little substance. I couldn’t enjoy it at all. Here’s hoping he gets back on track for Kill la Kill.

    Reply
    • September 16, 2013 at 4:03 pm
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      @random
      I definitely had high hopes going into the anime that this might be a Sawano work worthy of his other stuff since the music was pretty impressive within its context. Alas, it just doesn’t quite compare. Here’s hoping for a better performance out of Kill la Kill indeed!

      Reply
  • September 15, 2013 at 10:15 am
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    I think there were only a few tracks overall that I enjoyed (Vogel im Kafig and DOA). Everything else was pretty meh for me. So yeah, I’d agree this soundtrack isn’t too impressive, though it probably fits in the anime better.

    Reply
    • September 16, 2013 at 4:08 pm
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      @Justin
      This is definitely a soundtrack where a huge amount of context bias enters the equation and I think I enjoyed it as much as I did because of the anime. Vogel is definitely one of the better tracks with Cyua doing a good job with her delivery with that hymn-like quality. DOA.. well, it’s good, but the lyrics are pretty terrible. Somebody needs to get Sawano a lyricist, stat.

      Reply
  • September 16, 2013 at 3:05 am
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    I have completely fallen for Mika Kobayashi, I love her so much on “ət’æk 0N tάɪtn” and “Bauklotze”. Do you know what other anime she has done songs for? I’ve found a couple from Guilty Crown and Ao no Exorcist, but do you know any others?

    Reply
    • September 16, 2013 at 4:02 pm
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      @123
      Your wish is my command! Check out: http://vgmdb.net/artist/12213 where she’s had credits on Gundam Unicorn and Sengoku Basara. If there’s anything evident, she’s a Sawano regular and the two have worked together quite a bit!

      Reply
  • September 18, 2013 at 6:28 am
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    That’s the good part of not being an English mothertongue. If you don’t pay attention too hard, the Engrish lyrics become just confused gibberish and you get to appreciate their sound without noticing that they’re just expressing simplistic teen-ish angst (which could be an alternative title for Attack on Titan on the whole, really).

    Reply
    • September 18, 2013 at 6:31 am
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      @higgsbosoff
      And here I was, thinking that the anime was a metaphor for Japan’s unwillingness to embrace globalization and that their businesses were being eaten up by global competition.

      Reply
  • November 12, 2013 at 9:32 am
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    I definitely agree with you about Sawano’s music getting in your face and being too loud and raw (in a way, it’s almost like you’re describing Kajiura to some extent as well). Not only that, but most of his Engrish songs just didn’t suit SnK’s mood at all. Call your name was simply unbearable for me and I had a hard time with The Reluctant Heroes as well. I did love ət’æk 0N tάɪtn and Vogel im Käfig, but I acknowledge that these songs are way too similar to previous songs from many of Sawano’s osts. To sum up, the OST is just like any other Sawano OST out there: there are some great songs here and there, but overall it’s just…bland.

    Reply
    • November 17, 2013 at 12:59 pm
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      @yunaamakura-X
      Thanks! Yeah, I really do wish we’d just get back to Gigantic Formula. I think that was the last work of his that I enjoyed most, and that’s probably because it was the first Sawano OST I’ve heard, so everything remains fresh. Now? It’s been done so much that I wish he’d try to do subtler fare.

      Reply
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  • November 25, 2013 at 11:02 pm
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    There is an OST II (if I’m not mistaken), and it is miles better than this one, in my opinion. Might be a good idea to give that a listen.

    Reply
    • December 4, 2013 at 2:02 am
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      @runoverpebble
      Noted. I’ll take a look at it to see how things pan out. Thanks!

      Reply
  • December 3, 2013 at 11:21 pm
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    i am fairly new to the whole anime scene and Attack on Titan and Neon Genesis Evangelion being the only anime that i have watched from start to finish. Given this limited anime experience i will still go on to say that the music for Titan is quite remarkable, coupled with the amazing artwork the whole visual experience of watching the anime for me was one of the best viewing pleasures i have had in a long while. soundtracks have always been one of my fave genres and this ranks as one of the best in my book

    Reply
    • December 4, 2013 at 2:01 am
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      @fess
      If you’ve never seen anime, those would be two good titles to start with and I hope it opens more doors so that you’ll explore the medium even more! While I can’t say that Attack on Titan’s music is enjoyable on my end, I’m glad that it’s gotten you to check out more anime scores and that you’ll find even more awesome music as you check out more anime.

      Reply
  • December 12, 2013 at 12:09 pm
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    I agree for the most part with the sentiments here, in the context of the anime, Sawano succeeded in amplifying the emotion in the scenes.. Which is honestly where it matters most imo. I love his work, he might just be my favourite Japanese composer (I am most familiar with his work in comparison to other composers), but stand alone the tracks don’t have the same grandeur or emotion for the most part as they have in the anime. Which is a shame, but it is to be expected. He crafted those tracks FOR the anime, FOR the context, so he is successful in that regard. I’m really looking forward to his work on X (Monolith Soft’s new game for Nintendo) because in the game world the music is much more on the forefront, and more subtle, yet more noticeable. It creates the atmosphere for an environment single handedly, and while during cutscenes you could say it is similar to the context that music is presented in anime, the music that plays during other parts of the game is more often more impactful. If Sawano is succeesful in creating the appropriate atmosphere through his music in the context of the game, in the context of the area that is being explored and in the context of the emotions of the characters, and the cutscenes, then I will gain a whole new level of respect for Hiroyuki’s work. Really anticipating it, and seeing what Sawano will be able to do with more creative freedom and direction.

    Reply
    • January 3, 2014 at 3:02 am
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      @Usaamah
      I also feel that game music composition allows for much more creativity and independence. The last time game composers crossed over to the anime side of things, the results were subpar to say the least.

      Reply
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  • January 27, 2014 at 3:36 am
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    I think this is a fair review. Personally, I think a sounDtrack should first and foremost fit the show which this particular album does brilliantly. It fits Attack on Titan. A true testament to a good soundtrack is how well it fares on it own and that this album does alright. There a few standout tracks here suck as ət’æk 0N tάɪtn, cóunter・attàck-m’ænkάɪnd, Vogel im Käfig, and XL-TT. I didn’t mind the Engrish to much but does hinder those tracks overall. I personally am a fan of his work and he does knock it out the park he certainly does. Namely his score for Guilty Crown and Gundam Unicorn. I don’t expect him to hit home runs all the time but for what it is this isn’t a bad album by any means. Overall, I am looking forward to what he does next.

    Reply
    • January 29, 2014 at 4:08 am
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      Well, I’ll look forward to your thoughts on Kill La Kill then? :3

      Reply
  • May 13, 2014 at 4:05 pm
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    Ughhh this just goes to show why Americans shouldn’t be allowed to review Japanese music, it’s always “DORMG ENGRISH!!!” yeah no **** sherlock this music wasn’t made for you or english speakers at all -_- but keep piling on the racism.
    And then all the other worthless opinions whining about the awesome soundtrack, well ameritrash will be ameritrash.

    Reply
    • May 21, 2014 at 12:16 am
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      Your right though. This was made with a Japanese audience in mind. So overall I don’t mind the Engrish as the songs are still good to my ears.

      Reply
  • August 25, 2014 at 2:40 am
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    Are you all insane? Attack on Titan has one of the most gripping, most epic, and just outright beautiful soundtracks I have ever had the pleasure of listening to. The entire soundtrack has a little bit of everything, from epic fully orchestrated tunes like Attack on Titan and EMA to beautiful, heartwarming tunes (Since there was never legitimate titles assigned to the tracks, i can’t quite remember the exact name of the beautiful track i am referring to, though I know its melody by heart.) The tracks, especially when accompanied by the anime, have a way of inspiring hope and adventure one moment, only to create despair and tragedy another. Even in real life going about my daily tasks, I will listen to tracks from the soundtrack. Tracks like EMA or Vogel Im Kafig have a way of inspiring amazing nostalgic feelings into me, and EMA especially has inspired me on more than one occasion to not give up in whatever I was doing. In short, the soundtrack for Attack on Titan is simply amazing, and is arguably one of the best, if not THE best soundtracks I have ever heard in my entire life. i just do not see how anyone could NOT enjoy this music and ever call this composition “underwhelming” when every single amazing quality about music imaginable is ripe within the tracks of this show.

    Reply
    • October 19, 2014 at 10:05 am
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      I agree completely.
      This soundtrack is my life and it gives me chills every time.

      Reply
  • September 10, 2014 at 8:45 am
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    Most of the Track is a Regular Post Apocalyptic x Medieval but songs like Bauklötze,cóunter・attàck-m’ænkάɪnd, Vogel im Käfig E.M.A. and others are EPIC

    Reply
  • February 2, 2015 at 2:41 am
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    My favorite track from the OST is Eye-Water, which isn’t mentioned here. I can’t remember any scene for which it was used, though.

    Reply
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  • September 7, 2015 at 11:05 am
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    it’s a great battle-roaring soundtrack, I disagree with the final verdict.

    Reply
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