|Soul Eater Original Soundtrack 1
|August 27, 2008
|2. Soul-Eater (so scandalous)
|3. PSYCHEDELIC SOULJAM
|5. malleus maleficarum
|7. lady of gorgon
|9. BLACK STAR (never lose myself)
|17. selenic soul
|19. Death The Kid (so crazy)
|20. Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Have a Nice Dream
Review: Long are the days in which I could pick up a Taku Iwasaki soundtrack and be confident that I’ll derive a lot of enjoyment out of it because his experimentation with different musical genres has had mixed results. With Soul Eater’s soundtrack, Iwasaki’s attempt at fusing rock and R&B with his traditional orchestral pieces captures the show’s atmosphere, the coolness of the characters, and the intensity of the action, all within the context of the show. But without that context, the soundtrack isn’t quite up to par due to some repetitive tracks and some of his experiments that flop. As such, I can recommend listening to this album only if you have background knowledge of the series; as a standalone listen, you’ve better options elsewhere.
This soundtrack opens with “DEATHCITY,” which has an ominous aura about it from the dissonant jazz trumpet. As you listen further, more instruments are added to the mix to create a chaotic, edgy feeling. In spite of the chaos, there remains a semblance of structure while imparting upon the listener a hint of the foreboding atmosphere that always seems to be lurking around the corner by establishing a heavy, ambient track that fits the series like a glove.
A lot of the dissonant ambient tracks that follow utilize “DEATHCITY’s” overall feeling. After “4242564’s” flute introduction, the muted trumpets borrow “DEATHCITY’s” vibe and follow it up with an ethnic chant that is barely discernible in the background while “Krieg” makes use of the theme through an electric guitar. What these pieces emphasize is the unsettling atmosphere that Soul Eater generates, and by using dissonance, Iwasaki keeps the listener on edge and alert.
Next up is the first of the character themes, titled “Soul-Eater (so scandalous),” which conveys Soul’s cool, laid-back attitude through the rap lyrics which include the refrain:
(So cool) Can’t handle us, so cool it’s scandalous
Although the repetitive nature of the track isn’t the pinnacle of creativity, this track is spot-on when it comes to distilling the essence of its titular character and putting it to music.
The other two character tracks, “BLACK STAR (never lose myself)” and “Death the Kid (so crazy)” aren’t quite nearly as compelling. Black Star’s theme uses a serious rock track to depict his personality through a dominant electric guitar baseline which conveys his desire to stand out from the crowd. Though the guitar work is enjoyable, I wish the same can be said for the vocals which are a bit on the plain side. Death the Kid’s track uses an R&B rhythm sung by a female duet. Their performance brings to mind the two sisters who serve as Death the Kid’s weapons as they describe his personality and sense of style. Overall, the atmosphere in Death the Kid’s track cultivates a certain degree of coolness even if it’s a tad repetitive.
In addition to rock and R&B, Iwasaki experiments with other genres too. Electronica is represented in “PSYCHEDELIC SOULJAM” which has a futuristic vibe punctuated by a robotic-sounding voice. “Masamune” combines a woodsy atmosphere and an ethnic dance beat while “lycaon” uses a strange mix of dissonance and moaning sounds to create an unsettling effect akin to those from tortured souls before moving into a heavy techno beat that becomes obnoxious by employing the moaning noises.
All of this experimentation may be slightly off-putting to those who prefer more traditional styles of music. Thankfully, Iwasaki still retains enough of his older style to please those who prefer it. For example, “selenic soul” has the peaceful piano and orchestral atmosphere found in “Quiet Life” from the Rurouni Kenshin Tsuiokuhen OVA Soundtrack and “mifune” is a classic action-packed Iwasaki track that he’s used in shows like R.O.D. and Witch Hunter Robin. The latter starts out melancholically before the tempo speeds up to signify the start of the action through the rhythmic percussion beat and the intense violin melody. The piece continues to pour on the action until the melody eases off and the piece slowly closes off on a dirge-like mood. Based on the mood and intensity of the track, “mifune” is my favorite piece on this soundtrack.
Finally, the album closes with “Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Have a Nice Dream,” which ironically doesn’t feel like a conclusion as much as an intermission leading into the inevitable Soundtrack 2. The vibe it gives off has a feeling lawlessness about it as it combines a harmonica motive and a guitar playing a coarse western-sounding theme before the rap part comes in on top of the western theme. It’s not the kind of track that I’d seek out to listen to since the music isn’t up my alley, but given the nature of the soundtrack, it definitely fits the mood and serves as a good way to wrap up the many themes and the mood surrounding the series.
Soul Eater Original Soundtrack 1 does manage to juggle multiple genres though by virtue of it trying so many different genres, you’re not going to find much in the way of consistency. So while its many genres keep this soundtrack from being boring, it’s not exactly absorbing on its own either. The effect that context has on this soundtrack cannot be understated, which is why Soul Eater fans will get the most mileage; everyone else’s will vary quite a bit.