This is the last of the Record Of Lodoss War - Chronicles Of The Heroic Knight soundtrack albums. Unfortunately, this album is also the weakest in the series for several reasons. For one, the vocal tracks that open and close the album ("The Probationer and the Priestess" and "Evermore") are the kind that could discourage you early. Flat, unmemorable, and with awkwardly written English lyrics performed uncharismatically by Chinatsu Kasai, these tracks are probably the weakest of the vocal tracks in the Chronicles albums. I did find these songs somewhat interesting in that they are something of a balladeer's telling of the history of Lodoss (the former song talks about Spark and his friends' quest while the latter song apparently seems to focus on Deedlit's plight), but that's the highest point in these otherwise dull songs.
The score tracks are much better than the vocal tracks, but they're not as strong as those in the first two Chronicles albums. In fact, the first three tracks, which are renditions of "Descendants of Flame", "Worship Earth", and "Travelling Elf", start off the score section rather slowly, although the last track is a little more lively. However, things pick up at track 5, "Horizon Of Wildfires". It begins with percussion poundings and the brass playing what sounds like war horn calls before the strings and drums combine to put together a driving, if not memorable, battle track.
The other battle tracks on the album, although scattered, help give it some oomph, particularly the pounding of the percussion. On "A Black, Bloodstained Kimono" the brass and strings blare out the Marmo theme over intense percussion beats taken straight out of Ninja Scroll. "A Flash Stabbing The Sands" is an exciting, driving version of Spark's theme, and "Sun Of Darkness" brings the Lodoss motif for a suspenseful charge.
There are a lot of lovely tracks that provide for nice breaks, particularly "Leaf From The Hometown", "Midday Nap And Struggle", both of which are really beautiful and heartfelt (the latter track ends sadly, though). For a lively change, we have "Market And The Noise", another primitive dance track, with an engaging beat and uplifting, delightful panpipes, bassoons, and lyres providing the solos. And the string rendition of "Young Fate" is as lovely as ever.
Since this is the third album, it shouldn't be surprising that there are also tracks that are very dark and menacing. "Hesitant Pen" features eerie, ominous strings moaning over the woodwinds playing an ambivalent sounding rendition of the Lodoss motif. "A Gate Which Doesn't Open" employs a creepy piano playing a single note alongside sinister strings as the brass and woodwinds play a quiet yet threatening version of the Marmo motif. "The Magic Leader's Deep Darkness", which is the theme for Wagnard, the Dark Wizard, isn't the most memorable theme I've ever heard, but it works well for his character, particularly the last ending chords.
Probably the best of these dark tracks is the theme for Karla, the Grey Witch. It makes its first appearance on track 20, "The Grey Witch". This song features only an eerie, menacing chorus moaning a twisted, evil-sounding Gregorian chant. Five minutes long, scary, and mysterious, this is the definitive theme for Karla. Its reprisal on the track that follows, "The Worst Of The Good", features a women-only chorus singing Karla's theme along with the strings.
Although the remaining tracks on the album are nowhere near as strong as the first two Chronicles albums, none of the tracks are particularly bad ones. However, there is one intolerable track, and that is "Kardis's Resurrection Ceremony". It is barely music, just an obnoxious cacophony of distorted, disconnected strings, blaring brass notes, a reverbed male's chorus sounding as if they're chanting out of rhythm, all mixed together in a disjointed mess. It is so awful that even Kardis the Destroyer would cringe at it. I know that this particular scene where Wagnard, the Dark Wizard attempts to resurrect the Dark Goddess isn't supposed to contain the most pleasant music, but does it really have to be this unbearable? I think not. (In fact, this track is far worse than the two vocal tracks on the album.)
The final score track on this album, "Descent Of The Goddess" provides for a truly breathtaking listening experience. It begins with a strong tympani and brass roll, and then the strings come in. Then, the full chorus comes in to perform a heavenly, jawdroppingly gorgeous hymn that magnificently paints a picture of Marfa, the Earth Goddess. After 50 seconds of the chorus, this song is basically performed by the orchestra, ending the score on a very lovely and majestic, if low-key note. (Also, listen closely for hints of the Lodoss motif and "History Of The Young Knight".) Okay, so it's not a "grand finale" that one might expect for a fantasy score, but it is truly mesmerizing, and more than fitting for the interesting, if not altogether exciting, closing scenes.
Aside from the three awful tracks on the album, the soundtrack album suffers from one serious flaw: it does not contain all of the remaining music from Chronicles Of The Heroic Knight. Instead, it seems to contain additional songs that didn't make it into the show (like "Approaching Echoes", "Beautiful Girl In The Forest", and even "The Grey Witch", of which only a few seconds appear in the show). And the tracks that are missing from all three Chronicles albums include one that I was hoping to have - a battle version of the terrific "Song Of Battle", played during the climactic raid of the port city of Rood. How disappointing it is that this song, along with several others, never made it into the album. (The same is true of the first Lodoss albums; even they were missing tracks from the series. Arrggggh! Such is the frustration of a fan of this wonderful music!)
On the whole, Record Of Lodoss War - Chronicles Of The Heroic Knight Original Soundtrack Volume 3 is worth buying if you're looking to complete your collection of Lodoss soundtracks, but the weak tracks prevent it from being as prestigious as its predecessors. It's still a good buy, though it will be enough for one to wonder: will there ever be a complete soundtrack album featuring all the musical cues of Lodoss someday? Ah, I can only dream....