The sun shines overhead, you take a deep breath and prepare yourself for another peaceful day of farming, sheep herding, and various other simple daily tasks. Suddenly, the sun turns to shade, and overhead you see the endless trail of wings darkening the sky as a monstrous scaled beast soars effortlessly across the sky. This is the world of Monster Hunter. Then there is the music that echoes behind you as these monsters streak across the sky, stalk the land, and periodically lurch out from the ocean's depths.
More specifically, we are listening to the recently released soundtrack of Monster Hunter 3 Tri. I assume many are familiar with the beast fighting, resource gathering world of Monster Hunter, and this newest iteration, which was released on the Wii earlier this year. The album, obviously enough called Monster Hunter 3 Tri Original Soundtrack was recently released in the US from Capcom and Sumthing Else Music Works. The music itself is best described as a worldly orchestral style symphony. Composed by Yukko Miyama and Tadayo Shimakin, with a handful of additional arrangements by Akiyuki Morimoto, and Masahiro Aoki. It has all the normal trappings of symphonic albums, alongside intriguing rural instrumentation. In many songs you will hear from simple flutes and heavy percussion, as well as acoustic guitars, xylophones, and more. The album certainly sets itself apart from many western soundtracks with it's leanings towards more playful moods, as well as the clear influences from the music of several cultures.
The album kicks off with the over the top opening theme. Monster Hunter 3(Tri) softly begins, swelling into an adventurous fanfare surrounded by heavy percussion and snappy horns. The production value and adventurous nature set up the rest of the album well, as we travel through the fields, oceans, and mountains of the game. Each track evokes the moods and themes very well. Songs like Village to the Sea, Moga, bring a serene, small ocean town feel to them with the soft strums and sweeps of the instruments. We also hear the tense movements of monster hunting in Usurper of the Deserted Island / GreatJaggi with it's rushed violins and suffocatingly quick notes which can easily get your heart rate going with a short listen. I like to point out this track as well, because I am quite a fan of the way the strings swirl around each other in this piece.
There are also more playful and upbeat arrangements, such as The Sprouting Farm, that creates a carefree festival mood in it's bouncing wind instruments and gentle rhythms. Some tracks, such as the short jingle, Well Cooked~3(Tri)Version, are so playful as to be a bit absurd, as is the case with several of the short jingles that are spaced through out the album. For a soundtrack with 52 songs to it's name, it was surprising to see the amazing length to many of the tracks. As mentioned before the album is two discs. It spans a little north of two hours worth of music as well.
The first disc comes to a close with the eclectic sounds of Everlasting Words, the only track with singing on this collection. From there we move into the rousing track To One With Life, an upswell of music creates an enlivening song that really drives home the idea outlined in the notes. The ecosystem, and the interconnectedness of life. The themes and music of this soundtrack revolve around that idea, and it is certainly something to keep in mind as you listen through the main pieces of the album.
Disc two starts out in a far more subdued manner with the rhythmic but simple pulse of The Great Desert Post, Loc Lac. We hear more soothing town like themes across the beginning of the second disc in this manner. It really sets a great variety between the discs, as if one was for monster hunting, and this second disc is for the relaxing nights safely walking about town. Disc two really stands out when it reaches the samba flair of Cazador Del Monstruo, a catchy track filled with a very distinct style on the album, and a pleasant surprise to hear.
On the whole the second disc has a lot more fun, laid back themes, with titles like Even Hunters Want to Dance, and A Moment of Rest, you can imagine the soothing melodies you'll hear. Although this disc is the calmer of the two, it still ends with two raucous ending tracks. Triumphant Song is a flowing parade of music, gently weaving and ducking along. Testamanet of a Hero/3(Tri)Version brings the soundtrack to it's grand finale, and does it with all the pomp it ought to finish it with. The piece thunderously builds and soars, offering a reprise to the game, and album's opening theme. The song builds to an abrupt but satisfying end. We are at a close.
Monster Hunters 3(Tri) hosts a ton of music, well orchestrated and easy to listen to. The album is quite diverse in influences which is a breath of fresh air compared to games who tend to focus on one style throughout an entire soundtrack. The two discs are also arranged in an interesting way, so that they each have their own musical vibe to them, with the first disc having more of the triumphant main themes, while the second disc, as mentioned, lies back with more eclectic and relaxed orchestrations. I think the album is well worth a listen for fans of orchestral music, and the Monster Hunters series. I, being the former, and not the latter, enjoyed the album quite a bit myself from that perspective.
If you order a physical copy of the album, you'll be presented with some nice casing. The back and inserts are worn brown, like an ancient artifact, and helps evoke the mood of ancient monster hunting. Unfortunately the cover doesn't follow the same aesthetic, and has an okay, but clashing blue cover which I would have enjoyed in more of the faded cave painting style of the rest of the art. The CD also comes with a short piece of liner notes from the composers and creators of the game, which is a very nice addition. I also want to add that the bright pink CD art stands out nicely against the neutral browns of the inlay as well, and would definitely make an awesome Monster Hunters shirt if Capcom is listening.
The album is available to purchase as both a physical CD as well as a digital download over at the Monster Hunter 3 Tri Original Soundtrack page at Sumthing Distribution.
Note: This album was sent to GM4A from Sumthing Digital as a free review copy.