Terrific follow-up to the first 'Chronicles' album.
Reader review by Jon Turner
Just like Record Of Lodoss War had three soundtrack albums released, so did Chronicles Of The Heroic Knight. This is the second of the soundtrack albums, and the selection of music on here is every bit as good, if not better, than the first soundtrack album.
Even though it contains more music from the show, seven of the 23 tracks on this album are variations of seven tracks from the first album. This isn't a criticism, however, as they are all done rather well. "Star And Night Thoughts" is a gentle harp and string, romantic variation of "A Hand Extended For Answer", which is very lovely to listen to. "Gold of the Bold Hero" is slightly similar to "Birth Of A Hero", but the difference is that it is somewhat slower, and it ends rather differently. It's still rousing, though. "The Wind's Passing Over The River" is a slightly faster version of "Descendent of Flame", which is quite bouncy. "Song Of Battle (Slow Version)" is just that; a slower, and less powerful, yet still haunting rendition of the awesome "Song Of Battle" from the first album. "The Girl With Long Hair" is very similar to "Travelling Elf" (a theme which sadly never appears in the TV series), except the strings play along with the panpipe, unlike the original version, which was a panpipe and lyre duet. "Young Fate (Vox Version)" is an extremely beautiful and tearjerking version of Little Neese's theme with a lovely vocalist singing the motif over the full orchestra. (I always cry at this track!) "History Of The Young Knight (Marching Version)" is an absolutely terrific march version of this heroic track, and one of my favorite tracks on the album. I really can't get enough of this track; it is very boomy and bouncy, with an equally strong ending. Of these tracks, unfortunately, "Song Of Battle (Slow Version)" and "The Girl With Long Hair" never appear in the show, so it can be considered a treat to have them along for the album.
The new tracks are intriguing. There are three tracks that evoke humor, yet are never obnoxious. "The Gray Watch Line" is "sneaking around" music, with a somewhat amusing piano playing low, slightly comical lurking notes while the strings play ambiguous chords. "Secrets Within The Hour" employs the plucking of strings, a bassoon, and a clarinet for mischievous effects. "Happenings At Noon" is delightfully whimsical, with funny effects from the strings and a funny theme played by the panpipe and later, clarinet.
There are also emotional tracks, particularly "Grief Within The Priest's Chest". It begins with sad, mournful strings, then brings in the full orchestra to play a very sad requiem which will most likely stir tears from one's eyes.
Fans of the battle tracks from the first album will not be disappointed by the quality of the three found on here. "Terror Of The Ancient Dragon" is ominous, with harsh brass chords, heavy percussion, and frantic strings which perfectly mirror the Ancient Dragons of Lodoss. "The Dark Clad Army Line" features driving strings, percussion, and brass playing a very powerful and menacing march. The last "action" track, track 19 (played during some of the more exciting sequences) is another one of my personal favorites. It's fast, furious and aggressive with intense strings working against the stimulating pounding of a lighter percussion instrument while the brass blasts out notes of anxiety. I always feel tempted to play this track again and again whenever I hear it - it is so gripping! Too bad it ends so soon, though.
In addition to having a great variety of music, the soundtrack features three vocal tracks. The first one, "Thicket Of Roses" is a very lovely image song written and performed by Akino Arai. "Worship Earth ~Lumo kaj tero~" is more mellow and less melodic, with a small ensemble and a tenor and alto singing Gregorian-chant style lyrics. Although it gets somewhat lively around the two minute mark, it is basically the kind one would want to hear during relaxation time. "The Forest's Path", the last vocal track, is a medieval dance rendition of "Worship Earth ~Lumo kaj tero~" with an infectious beat and lively performance by Chie Ishibashi. Although these three vocal tracks are not as memorable as the opening and ending song of Chronicles Of The Heroic Knight, they are still pleasant and much better than the lame ones on the third soundtrack album.
Another significant notice: this album equally balances out the exciting tracks with the mellow ones, unlike the first Chronicles album, which threw all the exciting tracks for the first half of the tracks and saved the more mellow ones for the end. That made the first album somewhat uneven, but that problem is thankfully fixed here.
Overall, Record Of Lodoss War - Chronicles Of The Heroic Knight Original Soundtrack Volume 2 is a highly recommended purchase for both Lodoss fans and fantasy score buffs. If you don't own the first Chronicles album and want to get this album, I suggest getting both. Either way, this is an album you won't get enough of.