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Shining Force III OST
Published by: Futureland, Toshiba EMI
Release Date: November 26th 1998

Composed by: Motoi Sakuraba
Arranged by: Motoi Sakuraba

1 Disc, 13 Tracks
Catalog: TYCY-10003

Reviewed by: Zeugma 440

Personally, I don't know much about this Saturn RPG, but its arranged soundtrack immediately attracted me after I heard one of the opening themes on a radio. The whole album turned out to be very interesting; that's why I think it deserves a review.

Shining Force III Medley is the first track of the album. Sakuraba's favourite instruments are mixed to create a grand piece of music which sums up the overall atmosphere of the game: synth guitar and brass lead the epic parts; flute and digital choirs lead the quiet ones. If you want to have a quick overview of the OST, this track is what you need. In my opinion, each theme is too short to be fully enjoyable. Music needs time to create an atmosphere, and this medley juggles with different styles without letting one of them dominate the others.

Force: To Arms! : This track is all about the "bad side" of Sakuraba's work: chaotic action music. The problem here is that there is no thread: the whole track sounds like a rock concert solo, but does not fit RPG music. Try to avoid this one...

A Light to Lead the Way is wisely named for it is the tune which enlightens the album! This variation over the Shining Force III Main Theme starts immediately with an intense brass opening. Then come the synthetic choir and strings playing a kind of "theme of hope". Every time I hear this part of the track, it gives me gooseflesh. Intensity and beauty increase as military drums slightly come back. The climax of the track is not far... Brass and strings suddenly burst out as if someone yelled "Chaaaarge!!!" and after a few seconds, electronic guitar finally complete this awesome show of power. And finally, after a cute interlude, the track comes gloriously to its end.

Strive against the Dark may sound quite weird when listening to it for the first time. Distorted noises, a sweeping synth pad and erratic drums contribute to create a powerful and disturbing atmosphere. Imagine that you are looking at a gigantic vortex sucking a whole city up: that's the idea of the track...

Bulzome Rising features the same kind of chaotic guitar solos already heard in Force: To Arms! This track sounds like a dirty mix of Battle music and Deep Purple-like rock n'roll stuff. My advice: skip it, no matter how!

Traveler's respite is a kind of march, but does not sound natural. Some "classical" elements which remind me of Warcraft II soundtrack are melted with Sakuraba's electronic guitar, which is quite awful at times. What's more, drums disappear when they are most wanted and reappear far too loud when you don't expect them. This is too bad, but Traveler's Respite belongs to this kind of failed tracks which are potentially good but badly arranged.

The following track is called Tides of History. This "emotional" melody is led by an oboe, with strings, piano and bass in the background. Synth choir and -too loud- drums complete the arrangement when the intensity is at its peak. The overall atmosphere is a kind of mourning with some epic parts that adds to the whole track's magnificence. With lowest drums, this arrangement could be perfect!

In Force on the move, all the instruments play the Shining Force III Main Theme harmoniously with a rousing enthusiasm. All the classic instruments of "military pride" (timpani, huge brass section, strings and some winds for the bridge) are mixed with some synth pads to render an atmosphere of might and courage. Excellent track!

Sanctity is a melody of sadness and despair. It is cleverly composed and ships a great emotion through its epic arrangement.

The last "chaotic" track is less messy than one would think. The Lever to Move the world has a thread through its guitar solos and its jazzy illness: it features another variation of the Shining Force III Main Theme! But believe me, this is not what saves the track! The rest is difficult to listen and may give you a headache...

Scenario I, II and III opening are, well, great opening themes. They are quite short but very good. My favourite ones? Opening II and III! They make me feel like taking a sword and fight in SFIII battles!

If I had to choose one word to describe this album, it would be E.P.I.C.! In spite of four awful tracks, Shining Force III is a great arranged album. Some tracks just have to be ignored, or considered as experimental action music (ah, Sakuraba's taste for chaotic solos!).

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