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Chrono Trigger is a game that is etched in RPG leg­end. A race across the fringes of time it­self; with cat­a­stro­phe and calami­ty, mag­ic and tech­nol­o­gy, all swirling and cas­cad­ing around the sin­gu­lar ques­tion: “What can change the na­ture of a Nu?”

Wait, sor­ry! Wrong one!

Can you defy des­tiny?”

Defy des­tiny, you say? Lord, I couldn’t defy my urge to drink four pots of cof­fee, let alone des­tiny. That aside, this al­bum de­fies all pre­con­cep­tions I ever had of it. When I heard of this al­bum I thought, “Dear lord, this is go­ing to be one of those 400 artist, sev­en­ty disc things, isn’t it?” I mean, it’s an or­ches­tral al­bum, for cry­ing out loud. You can’t skimp on that. But imag­ine my sur­prise when I found out that 15 peo­ple — mind the word — or­ches­trat­ed this mon­stros­i­ty! Now if that’s not im­pres­sive, I don’t know what it is. Many more have done less — or worse — in a sin­gle al­bum, so it’s safe to say that we have an all-star cast on our hands. More sur­pris­ing­ly, it’s only two discs. But as they say, qual­i­ty over quan­ti­ty. Let’s dig into some of the high­lights, shall we?

DISC 1

This disc starts in spec­tac­u­lar fash­ion with the open­ing track “Inciting Incident.” I have heard the in­tro to Chrono Trigger done many ways, but this has to be one of my fa­vorites. The way the track just eas­i­ly glides into the pow­er­ful blows of the strings and the per­cus­sion makes my head spin, it’s han­dled with such grace. Speaking of grace, there is no bet­ter track to em­pha­size this than “Morning Sunlight.” I’m at a loss, this track is re­al­ly beau­ti­ful.

One of the best tracks on the disc hap­pens to be the last one, “Door to the End of Time,” one that sur­pris­ing­ly paces well, de­spite hav­ing very sub­tle, beau­ti­ful parts that slow down and oth­er parts that are bom­bas­tic and fast. This al­bum is a great ex­am­ple of some­one get­ting this right be­cause the tran­si­tions be­tween those two con­trast­ing fac­tors are al­most al­ways per­fect here. The key changes, the build up, the eas­ing into and out of tracks is re­al­ly im­por­tant with all mu­sic (Unless you’re into spas­tic non­sen­si­cal stuff) and it is es­pe­cial­ly im­por­tant with or­ches­tral pieces. This al­bum is very flu­id, even in pieces that take small lib­er­ties with the orig­i­nal com­po­si­tion, like “Blue Skies Over Guardia.” There’s very lit­tle change be­sides chang­ing the tim­ing with some of the notes, but my oh my, do they ever get this right. The pi­ano and brass sec­tions here light this thing up. The next track, “Frog’s Intervention,” is slight­ly dif­fer­ent how­ev­er. While the in­tro­duc­tion is spas­tic and alarm­ing, the sec­ond half is a work of beau­ty. It’s a beau­ti­ful call­back to nos­tal­gia that builds into a hero­ic theme of leg­ends which, I would like to be­lieve, ex­tends into the score “The Masamune,” do­ing it a love­ly bit of jus­tice, both ap­pro­pri­ate­ly com­pli­ment­ing each oth­er.

To Lands Unknown” is an­oth­er track that’s quite pow­er­ful, while also re­main­ing qui­et in the places it needs to be. It al­most re­minds me of a mix­ture of the over­world theme for Terranigma’s Dark World, while also be­ing in­flu­enced with a slight bit of dev­il­ish mis­chiev­ery only our friend Kefka could pull off.

Now, be­fore we end Disc 1, I’d like to men­tion two songs of un­par­al­leled skill and beau­ty. “Denadoro Climb” and “Darkness Dueling.” “Denadoro Climb” is a beau­ti­ful piece of work that should be in­clud­ed in any and all Chrono Trigger re­it­er­a­tions or re­makes. It’s so charm­ing and peace­ful that it’s giv­en high praise above it’s orig­i­nal. This sin­gle song stands on it’s own as a piece, and I think there’s some­thing to be said for that.

Darkness Dueling” is a pac­ing piece that fea­tures some very im­pres­sive pi­ano work that ul­ti­mate­ly com­pli­ments every­thing else. Now, com­pli­ca­tion can some­times, to the un­trained, mud­dle a track up and be­come over­bear­ing to the lis­ten­er; not with this. It’s tim­ing is per­fect, it’s com­plex­i­ty is sen­si­tive and placed where it needs to be — in­stead of be­ing every­where and all over the place like an 80’s Thrash Metal gui­tarist.

DISC 2

What is it with this al­bum and it’s awe­some in­tro­duc­tions? “Manifest Destiny” is the first track here and it pulls no punch­es. It’s a beau­ti­ful lit­tle did­dy that leads with strings, which in turn com­ple­ments the rest of the in­stru­men­tal rather nice­ly, but it seems as if the com­pos­er here didn’t ex­act­ly know what to do with the end­ing, as it comes to a very short slow down and then abrupt­ly stops. It’s a tad bit of an odd­i­ty, but it can be over­looked with the over­all qual­i­ty with the track. We con­tin­ue on to “The Chrono Trigger,” which is one of the more melan­choly pieces on the al­bum. As the song ad­vances, it be­com­ing slight­ly men­ac­ing, then flour­ish­ing into what seems to be a peace­ful res­o­lu­tion. It’s re­al­ly a beau­ti­ful track, much in the same way “The New Beginning” is a rac­ing piece that takes its time to be calm­ing and some­times sound­ing like the track is im­per­illing the lis­ten­er with men­ac­ing tones — an­oth­er nod, yet again, to this al­bum and it’s abil­i­ty to pull that off re­al­ly well with tran­si­tions. Other pieces that do re­al­ly well on this disc are “To Lands Unknown,” “The Last Stand” and “A Parting of Ways.”

Now, those three songs do de­serve a para­graph of their own, right?

Wrong, but not in the way you think. See, this al­bum does all the right things, and it’s hard for me to re­peat my­self over and over. I won’t fill up an ar­ti­cle by re­it­er­at­ing too much, that’s not very fair to you. Those three tracks do every­thing I’ve al­ready said any oth­er track has done, I just don’t like to re­peat my­self.

All in all, this al­bum is a stroke of ge­nius. Often it shows that not only does this al­bum be­long in your col­lec­tion, it be­longs in the an ac­tu­al re­make of Chrono Trigger, with­out ques­tion. My hat goes off to the project lead Andrew Lee Triplett and every­body in­volved, and that….is not some­thing I do quite of­ten.

Join me this Saturday where I in­ter­view Canadian head­bangers Killborn, where we talk about their new E.P, their up­com­ing win­ter tour, and of course….video games. Tah Tah!

Recommendations:

Chrono Trigger Main Theme – Super Guitar Bros

Chrono Trigger meets Metal – 331Erock

Lavos Theme – LittleVMills

Chrono Trigger Main Theme on Piano – OstilMusic

 

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