[ShockWave is a monthly feature which highlights video game music and our favorite soundtracks, for the music lover in every gamer.]
Hello all. It is my pleasure to welcome you back to ShockWave, where we will be exploring and enjoying a variety of fantastic selections from the grand world of video game music. This month we’ll be listening to the BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger Original Soundtrack. This remarkable collection of tracks is masterminded by the merited Daisuke Ishiwatari, who most will recognize as the creator of the cult fighting series Guilty Gear. He also composed the music for that series, though it is my personal opinion that the music in BlazBlue is infinitely more refined and varied.
- Album: BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger Original Soundtrack
- Genre: Hard rock, Metal, Fusion, Industrial, Ambient
- Credits: Daisuke Ishiwatari (Composer)
- Original Release: 2008
- Price: *Only available as part of the BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger Limited Edition* : $40
- Runtime: Over 1.5 hours, 29 tracks over 2 discs. Track list available here.
While the Calamity Trigger OST is a largely rock and metal oriented album, many of the tracks incorporate elements from various other genres, such as classical and ambient. Cumulatively it sounds diverse and fresh, although the rock elements are practically ever present. The album serves as an excellent complement to the flashy, fast paced and possibly seizure inducing game-play of the title and it is strong enough to be enjoyed outside of the game. Even casual fans of the metal genre have plenty to dig their teeth into here.
This soundtrack is also a great value because it comes with the collector’s edition of the game, which itself can be snagged for a super low price at this point. I won’t deny that I’m largely familiar with both this soundtrack and the work of its composer, but this soundtrack is absolutely addictive. Although multiple BlazBlue games have been released following the successful debut of Calamity Trigger, none of them have had their own proper soundtrack. Songs from the newer games have been incorporated into various BlazBlue Song Accord albums. These releases have far fewer songs than the two disc Calamity Trigger OST and are harder to get a hold of, which easily makes the Calamity Trigger OST the best value.
Choosing what I thought were the best songs from this soundtrack was not an easy task. Obviously it boils down to personal opinion, but there really are several amazing tracks to choose from. Some songs I would have never listened to, but when playing the game online, the host is able to change the songs and stage before each match. As a result of this, I was able to see which songs the players were listening to and I noticed that the songs I liked were not always popular. That said, I think we have a pretty varied track list here.
[Like her theme ‘Queen of Rose’, Rachel Alucard seems sweet at first, but her true nature shines through in due time.]
Disc 2, Track 12: Blue Beating
The perfect starter track would have to be the bold and beautiful Blue beating. Fans will immediately recognize this as the song that plays at the character select screen in the game. The spooky, dramatic strings quickly give way to a thumping drum, percussion and electric guitar. Before long the strings are back and with a sad sense of urgency. A choir then intrudes with dark, chant-like vocals.
An organ joins the choir, and a veritable symphony of strings and percussions roar to life. It is stunningly beautiful, yet ominous and foreboding. It instills the impression that something very serious and very bad is about to go down. Before long the focus switches back to the electric guitar and then back to the strings. It all culminates with an exit so hauntingly beautiful you won’t believe that it’s in a fighting game. It seems better suited for a Tim Burton film.
Disc 2, Track 2: Imperial Code
Imperial Code is probably my favorite track on this entire album. It is definitely the one I choose the most whenever I get to choose the song and stage before an online match. The bold, classy intro is laden with beautiful, dramatic strings. A drum quickly joins in and raises the pace. It feels as if the music is threatening or warning us, but it’s too late. The electric guitar is already here. It spurts to life with a show stopping transition from the soft strings.
The drum kicks up and the song takes off into a head pounding, fast paced rock arrangement. It is shockingly different from the beginning of the song. The guitar delivers plenty of drama, before being joined by a choir. The suspense is tangible. Three minutes in the powerful guitar is driving the song forward and Daisuke showcases his guitar skills with a bevy of impressive riffs. The song does not wind down, either. This excitement rages until the last ten seconds of the track. Mind = blown.
Disc 1, Track 7: Queen of Rose
As lovely and elegant as the character for which it was composed (that’s Rachel Alucard, for you uninitiated), Queen of Rose opens with gentle strings and synths, but before long the true nature of the song becomes clear. Pounding organs, drums, guitar and strings create a sound of cacophonous beauty. The music is exciting but somehow…endearing? That’s until about one and a half minutes in when the electric guitar races into a thumping solo.
The fierce guitar quiets as bold strings are reintroduced, soft again, similar to the intro. The drums carry on alongside lowly alongside the strings, until the guitar returns and takes things back to top speed. The organ gets the spotlight for what seems like far too little time, and now the strings are practically screaming. The song closes with the same gorgeous arrangement that it began with, and it seems to bluff about what the actual song was like. Similar to how Rachel’s dimeanor bluffs about what she’s actually like.
[v -13 (Nu) is as chilling and haunting as her theme ‘Awakening the Chaos’. She’s pretty harmless until that giant sword transforms into her battle suit. Then she’s a problem.]
Disc 2, Track 11: Nocturne
Nocturne packs some amazing stuff into two short minutes. The strings pick up softly and solemnly. They flow freely in the intro, mingling with soft bells, before picking up in unison at about half a minute in, with a steady pace. Then an aural and heavenly choir delivers chilling vocals. The vocals start off gently but quickly get stronger and louder. A drum thumps occasionally, adding to the grandness of the strings and vocals. One and half minutes in and the choir is simply magnificent. The strings are still gentle, but steady and relevant.
The music is absolutely captivating at this point. Everything thing gets more tense and more exciting over the next twenty seconds. The ending is abrupt and unremarkable, not at all a worthy close to the blissful, ethereal music that played prior. The song is so short that you’ll be prompted to listen to it five or six times until you’ve had your fill. Don’t be alarmed if you feel a tear running down your cheek.
Disc 2, Track 7: Awakening the Chaos
The mellow sounding of a bell starts this aural trip. The vocals are high pitched and soft, backed by the bold strings. Then low percussions start up and male vocalists join in. A dark, quiet synth can be heard in the background, before the strings and vocals mount. All the vocalists sing in harmony now and rumbling, irresistible bass can be heard now, beside what sounds like bongos. Then the electric guitar roars to life and quickly takes over the song with slamming drums and more low bass.
The choir comes back, this time with much more conviction and emotion and backed by the angry guitar. Things calm down enough for a quick guitar solo, and then the song takes right back off. The choir sings with so much drama before everything quiets down and a wind instrument takes the wheel. Soft strings come in to compliment and fool you into thinking the song will end quietly, before it jolts fiercely back to life. After just a few more seconds, the song screeches to a halt. Good stuff.
Disc 2, Track 8: Black Onslaught
Unlike some other tracks on this album, Black Onslaught does nothing to make it seem like more than just a head banging metal number. That said, it is undeniably well executed. The hype intro rides until a menacing vocalist takes over and begins roaring. The fast guitar and drums back him into a sickening groove, and you’ll feel pretty odd if you don’t start shaking your head. The music continues at this shockingly high pace and the drums and guitar are tireless.
The vocalist takes a break once he’s shouted a good bit and then the guitars take over. All the other instruments make way for a riveting electric guitar solo. Listen really responsibly to this one folks. I’m not playing; if you listen to this too loud your ears will probably start bleeding. The vocalist returns with his boys and they’re screaming something about death before the guitar screams in approval and the track is over. Adjust hair as needed after listening.
[In addition to being eye candy for innumerable anime pervs the world over, Litchi Faye Ling is also a doctor. Oriental Flower is her theme. ]
Thus concludes this month’s installment of ShockWave. The BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger OST sports the rock and clash influences one would expect to find in a fighting game soundtrack but cleverly incorporates elements from other genres to present a sound that is as unique as the game itself. This allows the whole album to sound wonderfully fresh. Also, amazingly, the album manages to sound varied, despite the undeniable similarities that almost all of the tracks share. While metal isn’t exactly the kind of music most people would call timeless, I never seem to get tired of hearing tracks like Imperial Code. Hopefully, you’ve all enjoyed this beautiful soundtrack as much as I have.