|NEEDLESS Original Soundtrack – I got you under my skin
|Masaaki Iizuka (e-ZUKA)
|September 30, 2009
|1. Raging Flames
|2. Assailant in the Night
|3. LIQUID GROOVE
|5. The Moon of a Silence
|6. COLD ARMY
|8. Vital Vision in the Spanish Desert
|9. Sleeps in Madness
|10. Elephant’s Scream
|11. eZ MSC
|12. Slave of Your Ghost
|14. CHASING TRUTH
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.