Preface: I don't know anything about musical theory, so the following is just me sharing what I loved about each track and some very probably wrong interpretations. Also, links are not mine, just random Youtube uploads I found. Anyway, HEAVEN OR HELL! DUEL 1, LET'S ROCK!
I love Arc System Work's games. I also suck at them, big time. But how one can resist those cool as hell, stylish, over-the-top visual designs? And those face-melting, shredding soundtracks? Specially when they are as banging as the ones from the latest entry on their Guilty Gear series. In a surprising and welcome twist, each fighter on the roster comes with a vocal track as their character theme, and most interesting of it all, they all seem to be the sound team paying homage to some of the most influential bands in the rock-genre pantheon; either through instrumentation, rythm, flow or vocal style. In short, they are all a delight to listen to, and should be shared with others! Some stand out tracks for me are:
Sol's Theme: Find Your One Way
Love the build up on this one, from slow paced drum beats, to Sympathy For The Devil style bongos, and an AC/DC flavored guitar solo; no wonder it was chosen as the promotional for some ads. Also, some parts of the the lyrics remind me of It Has To Be Way from MGS: Revengeance, which is always a great thing to be compared to.
Ky's Theme: The Roar Of The Spark
Ky got handsomer, and so did his theme! I love how this one has optimistic, Gamma Ray style lyrics, along with a fitting Power Metal styled, scale based solo (is that the correct term?). However, the true gem of the track is, of course, that hair-raising "THE ROAR OF THE SPARK" battle cry at the end of the chorus. Wish I had the vocal capabilities to make it justice while singing along...
May's Theme - The Disaster Of Passion
Yes, I know, it's a meme. But it's also Just. So. Bubbly! We all need some sun-shine, breeze song and bright balloons every now and then on our lives (and that anime-opening-style drum pedal). It's overactive teenagerness also reminds me of Someday from The World Ends With- TOTSUGEKI! 🐬
Axl's Theme - Out Of The Box
Oh boy, this one is so good, the constant rythm changes and use of pauses give it so much depth, making it a song that gets better the more you listen to it; the tone shift after the first two lines comes totally from the left field! An obvious love letter to Guns and Roses, that chorus is the stuff earworms are made of. OUT. OF. THE. BOX!.
Faust's Theme - Alone Infection
WE GOT ONLY ONE SKYYYYYY.... Wow, there's just so much to talk about this one. As beffiting of the resident nutcase, this track shifts wildly in mood between verses, in a manner not dissimilar to what System of a Down does (in B.Y.O.B., for example). It also reminds me of Panic Attack from Dream Theater, specially the vocals (Hysteriaaaaa), and in the whole, seems to aim for a whole-story-within-a-song with it's emotional send-off. Love how there are various, off-tempo voices singing/whispering along through the whole song, building up it's schizoprenic undertones. Top tier!
Milla's Theme - Love The Subhuman Self
Heavy Nightwish/Evanescence vibes here, with some BlazBlue sprinkled here and there (more specifically, as an evolution of Cry Camellia, Tsubaki's Theme). Love the electronic synth and string instrumentation in the background, which help give the track a subtle gothic ambience; but most of all, it's the vocals transitioning in between fierce to frail that give it so much character, illustrating the internal struggle Milla hides behind her new femme fatale persona.
Giovanna's Theme - Trigger
Let's get funky! Some people seem to dislike the vocals on this track, but I feel that the singer here is very clearly trying to imitate Red Hot Chilli Pepper's vocalist Anthony Kiedis, not an easy feat! The whole track is also a very transparent reference to the Beastie Boy's "Sabotage", though with a more melodic angle. What's not to like?
I-No's Theme - Requiem
Lighters up, ladies and gentlemen, it's encore time. Man, the lyrics on this one go Overkill on the feels, remorselessly. It's really hard to talk about it without getting into heavy spoilery territory, so go back here once you finish the Story mode and prepare to bawl away like a baby. If I am to be swallowed by fate, I must have fought well...
So there it is, some thoughts on what may very well be the best game soundtrack produced this year, and there's still half the roster to explore! Hopefully the DLC leaks end up being true and we get Jack-O as a playable character, just because I want to see Ishiwatari's team take on a Hellowen song. What are your thoughts on these or the other character's themes?