The first time I ran across Guilty Gear, one of my friends had just purchased the game and was showing it off to everyone he knew. My first reaction was, "Ho-hum, another fighting game, how exciting can this be?" But one thing on the back label piqued my interest: the promise of a "killer metal soundtrack". Curious, I threw the disc in the system and started playing. And was I glad I did. In fact, I was so taken by the music in the game that I asked my friend if he could make a CD from the music generated in the sound test mode (this was before I knew video game soundtracks even existed).
Stylistically, the music is best described as hard rock / thrash metal, with the exception of "Epilogue" (a slow piano/strings arrangement that sounds like it comes straight out of an orchestral OST). Every other track is a seamless blend of highly-charged guitars and percussion, with the occasional piano or organ nestling among the killer chords. The overall effect is intensely energetic. More than once, this disc has roused me from a state of work-induced catatonia to a state of adrenaline-filled bliss. Every character theme is not just good, but memorable, ranging from the happy-go-lucky "Pride and Glory" to the organ-propelled "Holy Orders" and "Writhe in Pain", from the soft and soulful "Epilogue" to the brilliant "Love Letter From ..." (my favorite song from *any* video game soundtrack).
Of course, there are some imperfections in the CD. Some tracks sound somewhat flat and muffled at times, which can prevent you from fully getting into the music. Sometimes, it even feels like the band is playing at one end of a tunnel and the music is coming out of the other end. The middle tracks, while good, are fairly short, and I've always had a thing against sound effect tracks (it annoys me so much when I put a disc on random, settle into a comfortable musical journey, and get rudely whipped out of it by the sound of a fireball or a laser). However, these flaws are relatively minor, and when they are stacked against the superb instrumentation and sheer adrenaline that the music provides, they almost disappear.
This is hard rock music at its finest. I kid you not. If you've been looking for a thrashing soundtrack to put next to your copies of Ys V Orchestra Version and Xenogears, this is it.