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Soul Cradle Original Soundtrack :: Review by Don and Bryan

Soul Cradle Original Soundtrack Album Title: Soul Cradle Original Soundtrack
Record Label: Nippon Ichi Software
Catalog No.: SLPS-25738
Release Date: February 15, 2007
Purchase: Buy at eBay


Soul Cradle is the latest strategy RPG for Nippon Ichi Software. As is the case with most of their strategy games, excluding Phantom Kingdom, Tenpei Sato is the composer for this score. Because the story focuses on beings called World Eaters, who, as you may have guessed, are capable of destroying worlds, the score for this game is a bit more mature than other Sato scored games, such as Phantom Brave and the Disgaea series. How does this jump in maturity translate for Tenpei Sato? Did he successfully capture the essence of the game? Read on to find out...

Track-by-Track Reviews

Disc One

1) Echoing Prayers

This serves as the title screen for the game. The piece itself gives off a few different types of emotions. There is a certain solemnity to it, but at the same time, the mysterious nature hints at foreboding doom. Overall, it's not the strongest piece, but it does strike at the listener emotionally. (8/10)


Serving as the first battle theme for the game, "RED BOOTS" really gets the adrenaline pumping. The mixture between striking percussion and frenetic strings help to create a nice tense atmosphere. However, the most striking thing about this piece is the contrasting brass line. It offers a sense of heroism and the woodwinds that accompany it display a sense of playfulness, one often associated with Tenpei Sato scores. Overall, the diversity of instruments in this piece make it one of the best battle themes I've heard from Sato, and at the same time, serves its function amazingly. I still can't get over the brass sections! (10/10)

3) Seasons Past

This piece gives me chills. While it's mostly just a somber piano and acoustic guitar, it does incorporate some haunting strings that give it a creepy feeling. Don't let that discourage you, however. It really is a beautiful piece of music. It is too short to say much more other than this: Sato never ceases to amaze me! (9/10)

4) Dragon's Eye

Wow, I'm assuming this is a battle theme. It takes the standard form of Sato's other battle themes, making high emphasis on the percussion and dissonant melodic instruments. It's really hard to decipher anything further to say in terms of the instrumentation, as it's just so complex. Those familiar with Sato will know what I'm saying. Those who aren't really need to give this track a listen, as it's a wonderful basis on what to expect from his battle themes. I really enjoy this piece, although it seems to repeat a bit quick for my tastes. (8/10)

5) Moon Cradle

"Moon Cradle" is perhaps one of the highlights of this awesome soundtrack. While it isn't outlandish in any way, it really develops on various fronts. The track itself sounds almost like something in a military movie, but at the same time, there's a sense of haunting presence about it. The bell chimes and strings add suspense and tension to the mix, while the serene woodwinds help to bring an extremely delicate melody to life. The harp glissandos are very nice as well, and the inclusion of some choral accents really help to distinguish this track from any surrouding pieces on the album. Truly a beautiful composition and one that plays in my dreams. Well, that's a bit much, but you get the picture. (10/10)

6) Legends of the Exiled

I'm going to take another wild stab in the dark and say this is another battle theme. This time, Sato used a tribal drumbeat as the basis and layers a string melody on top of that. It is a fairly basic battle theme coming from him. Sato does an amazing job with his battle themes, but this one seems to fall a little short of some of his other works. Don't turn away from this track though. It is a solid piece of work, and I find myself returning to it frequently. (7/10)

7) Morning of Awakening

Oh man, here is another prime example of why I love Tenpei Sato. His works seem to portray the events they are attached to to a tee. Without even seeing this scene, it instantly paints a picture in my head, which not many other composers can do. It's simplicity is what makes it so unique. A flute of some kind takes the lead here, while a clarinet backs it up. The harmony is very bouncy and ethereal in nature, which only brings this piece even higher up on the WOW scale. It is short though, which hurts it outside of the game. (9/10)

8) Escape Artist

Here we go. This piece has one goal, and one goal only: To pump you up for a battle (or to make you "hurry", either one works). Frantic strings carry on the harmony, which is lead by numerous instruments including a violin, clarinet, and strings (not the frantic ones), among others. Sato seems to throw a lot into his battle themes, as far as instrument complexity goes. If you want to know what I mean by this, listen to this track. You won't be disappointed! (9/10)

9) Street of December

This piece an extremely good example of an excellent world map theme. It's undeniably charming, boasts an outstanding melody, and some lovely instrumentation. The fusion of East and West is also apparent in this piece. There are many styles mixed together in this piece. You have the traditional orchestral style heard in the brass sections of the piece, however, the more impactful of the themes seems to have a nice Eastern flair to them through the use of the strings and woodwinds. Definitely a beautiful world map theme and a gorgeous exotic composition. (9/10)

10) Last Summer

Wow, talk about amazing. This is by far one of my favorite battle themes in Soul Cradle. Unlike most of Tenpei Sato's battle themes, of which there are many, Sato opts to take his road less traveled and drive the melody with chorals and a superb accompaniment rather than have an instrumentally led piece. The accompaniment, filled with bombast and vigor, is an excellent support to the haunting vocals. The choral work itself is rather interesting. Shifting in tone and pace throughout the track, the dynamic flow of the piece never gets old. However, when the pace picks up, the intensity of the battle theme is heightened and the majestic yet dangerous nature of the enemy you are battling is apparent. This is truly an epic battle theme for the three truly epic enemies that are the foundation of this game. (10/10)

11) Dark Harp

OK, this piece has me a bit puzzled. I'm assuming by the name the harmonic instrument is a harp. The problem is, at times it sounds EXACTLY like a dulcimer! Either way, this unknown instrument plays throughout the whole piece, carrying the violin and other random support instruments with it. I would venture to say something creepy is going on here, as this piece has a very ominous feel to it. I never really gave it much of a listen before this review, but now I have to say it is one of my favorite songs on this disc! (10/10)

12) Cradle March

As one might surmise from the title, this is a marching tune that serves as a battle theme. It's quite heavy on the brass, but unlike some composers out there, I think it's done rather tastefully. The drum line is a great accompaniment to the melody side of this piece and once again, Sato shows that he's a great battle theme composer. There's a nice sense of heroism, mixed with a bit of an epic feel to the entire track, and the melody is rather strong. Truly another masterpiece to this wonderful soundtrack if you ask me. (10/10)

13) Speed Queen

Prepare to be taken on a wild ride here! This piece throws everything you've ever heard from Sato at you all at once. For once, Sato lets the violin rest a little bit, while some distorted synth takes the main melody. That doesn't mean the violin is gone though... no siriee. Where it does show up, it accentuates the melody perfectly. The random brass here and there helps this idea along even more. This piece is not for the faint of ears. There is just way too much going on for someone to comprehend all at once. Take your time and listen. Any fan of Sato's battle themes will find this a must have in your "Most Played" category of your respective media player! (10/10)

14) Love Letters

Wow, three of the most beautiful instruments in the world participating in one of the most emotional pieces I've heard. This is truly an event to remember and one to make you, or at least me, cry. Combine that with my weakness for simplicity and you have one of my favorite video game pieces of all time. While I could go on a diatribe about this piece, I'll save your eyes the trouble. Plain and simply put, this piece of music instills so many emotions into the listener. The violin, the acoustic guitar, and piano all play a prominent role in the success of this piece. They seem to complete each others melodic fragments to create an experience full of ever changing melodic patterns. If there was ever a definitive non-battle Tenpei Sato piece, this is it. If you don't like this, you probably aren't human. (10/10)


What a weird piece we have here! While it begins with a jazzy piano, it takes a strange turn afterwards. The brass comes in, with some weird distorted synth bagpipes perhaps. The jazzy swing feel stays throughout the whole piece, with the melody giving us the sense that this accompanies someone evil. While this sounds like a very strange combination, I assure you it comes together rather well. As I've said before, Sato is a master of painting a picture for you, and this piece does just that. (8/10)

16) Crisis Climax

Another very ominous track! I am gonna lay this out right now: The track title does not lie. This piece is one of the most effective mood setting pieces I've ever heard. It's orchestral in nature, with strings, a solo violin (a Sato staple), and a clarinet taking up the majority of the lead. A piano and random timpani strikes are used to build the tension, while a harp carries us through the section transitions. I just can't believe how complex Sato can make a piece, and not have it sound messy. This is great! (9/10)

17) Will You Dance?

"Will you dance?" is what any gentleman would say when meeting a fair maiden at a ball. As such, this track is quite the interesting track in the fact that it definitely would make for an interesting dance routine. There's a bit of Spanish flair in it, the piano seems to speak 'tango' to me, and there's just a nice airy feel to it in general. The instrumentation is perhaps the strongest part of the entire piece. The flute is the star of the show with its free flowing nature and helps to create the nice airy feeling, while the strings really help add some contrast and a bit of seriousness to the piece. A truly great piece of music. (10/10)

18) Desperado

"Desperado" is a funky piece of music and it's quite a strong one at that too. I love the saxophone melody combined with a groovy beat and some string accompaniment. Mix in some rock elements and you've got yourself a fusion jazz piece. There's just something about this piece that makes me smile every time I hear it. It plays around and it knows it does it! (9/10)

19) Gemini

I am a sucker for choir pieces. This one is just a solo choir, with the female vocals taking the lead. The melody is a sad one, taking you on a journey though something very upsetting it seems like. This was something new for me from Sato, and I was anything but disappointed. Everything fits together perfectly. While I could go on for hours about how much this theme gets to me, I'll leave it at this: This is only the second game music choir piece to make me cry, only trumped by "The Beginning and the End" from Xenogears. (10/10)

20) Levin

Here we are first introduced to the melody of one of my favorite tracks on this album, "Crash Landing". The theme has a very heroic tone, with the brass leading the melody. Other than that though, it doesn't bring anything new or exciting to the mix. (7/10)

21) Woody Chips

Wheeeeee this sure is a fun piece! It sounds like it came straight out of Breath of Fire III, with the xylophone leading the melody. However, I think this is one of Sato's weakest pieces on the album. It's fun, and quirky, but can't hold its own outside of the game. A decent try though! (5/10)

22) Tears of a Cradle

When I hear this piece, the first thing that comes to my mind is one of those extremely sad scenes in a movie. There's such a sense of emotion behind this piece harboring some very deep and painful experience. The work of the strings is the highlight of the piece and truly brings these experiences to the forefront. A tear-jerking melody rich in harmony and full of life. A moving experience for sure. (9/10)

23) Crying for the Dark Sky

Welcome to the most unique piece on this soundtrack. "Crying for the Dark Sky" can essentially be described as a disconcerted composition. And to think, this is a battle theme. In fact, I really enjoy this one. It has a unique charm about it. The vocals are the focus of the track and carry a beautiful melody, full of accompanying harmonies. The rhythmic rock bass line makes for an awesome accompaniment giving the track a nice pace. The synth and violin instrumentals are rather interesting and help to convey a sense of quirky seriousness. Overall, this track is quite fun and quite a black sheep on this album, and for that, I love it. (10/10)

Disc Two

1) Piece of Legend

A short typical fanfare, with the Sato "magic touch" built in. It's not long enough to warrant much of a score. (5/10)

2) Maize Forest

This is another favorite of mine on the album. Sato pulls out all the stops again, giving us a very strange but very good piece. The melody is interchanged with an accordion-like synth and a violin through most of the piece, while an instrument I can't pinpoint plays over top of this with a vibrato-like sound. While my explanation might make this piece sound a bit off, don't let that fool you. Everything works together very well in making this one of the highlights of the album, and maybe even Sato as a whole. VERY well done! (10/10)

3) God's Reflection

Here we are treated to something we don't hear much from Sato. A slow piece. The title of this track is very fitting, as you'll hear subtle water sounds throughout. The violin, piano, and harp all help to enhance the feeling that the water lays out. Overall, this is an incredibly innovative piece that I just can't get enough of! (9/10)

4) Cradle Blues

Sato does an interesting thing with this composition in the fact that, while the instrumentation is similar to what one would expect from his compositions, the integration of said instruments is rather pleasing. Of course, we have standard fare acoustic guitar and strings to express a feeling of sorrow. In addition, though, Sato decides to use a flute for a melody that would sound absolutely perfect on a harmonica, given the name of the track. It's an interesting compositional decision and I think it adds a bit of contrast to what one would expect from a Blues track. (8/10)

5) Flaxen Necklace

"Flaxen Necklace" is easily one of my favorite Tenpei Sato battle themes, however it is not my favorite. It has many strengths going for it, namely in the melody line. For example, while Sato is known to use the violin in many of his battle themes, they are usually not the focus, or if they are a focus, they are not the sole focus. The frenetic pace of the twin violins and their complementary parts really makes for a dynamic piece of music. Couple that with some awesome accompaniment in the form of piano and percussion and the listener is treated to a track full of excitement and energy. (10/10)

6) Magic Man

Sato has done some weird stuff in his career, and well, this might just be included in that. This track as the feel of an evil circus, if that makes sense. The bouncy merry-go-round sound this gives off makes you feel like you're at a carnival... about to be killed by an evil clown. I don't really care for this style, so I don't personally like this piece. I'm sure, however, that it is effective in context, so that's where my score will come from. (8/10)

7) Forma Lleya Lisami

After the whimsical "Majic Man," Sato allows us to relax a bit with a very simplistic acoustic guitar melody. While there is no other instrumentation within this composition, there just seems to be a very direct, yet strong, melody. I find it to be a great piece, but I prefer his multi-instrument pieces more since he's able to blend them so well together. (8/10)

8) Royal Emblem

"Royal Emblem" is an arrangement of "Last Summer". Instead of featuring chorals, this track focuses purely on the strengths of the instruments. The same marching percussion is found within this piece, but there are some noticeable differences. The brass replaces the chorals and makes the track sound more bombastic, but in addition to bombast, there are also melancholy sections where the violin is featured. Overall, the track has more boom than the original, but I think the chorals added a bit extra to the former battle theme. This is still quite a good piece though. (9/10)

9) Land of God, Drazil

Oh, you are all in for a treat here! This has to be one of the most evil tracks I have ever heard Sato compose. The piano in the intro really accents a dark undertone, while the synth sound effects and strings do nothing but support the piano. While this is a wonderful start to what seems like a wonderful track, this is Sato. I don't think he can create a track without giving it some form of hope or a peaceful sound. About halfway through, vocal chanting is layered on top on the melody, giving the track a bit of a lighter tone. Overall, this is a gorgeous piece, but the addition of those vocals kill the mood. Still though, this is a track not worth missing! (9/10)

10) Crash Landing

Holy crap! This piece quickly jumped to hold a place as one of my favorite battle themes on this album (aside from "Flaxen Necklace"). The intro starts in a very quirky way, with distorted vocals and other typical "strange" Sato instrumentation. Then, out of nowhere, a very powerful violin grabs the melody and takes off. Like "Flaxen Necklace", the violin holds the melody for the majority of the piece, and it doesn't have that typical violin sound to it. Sato again amazes me with his string work by blaring the violin's notes out with so much power, you can literally feel it. After some time with this, the distorted sax takes the lead (only Tenpei Sato would distort a saxophone!). The piece quickly falls into a very evil section, with the vocals from the intro coming back, and the violin now taking up the harmony. The piece then "pretends" like it is going to repeat, but has to build that last ounce of suspense on us by repeating the intro, and adding a very short harpsichord section that totally changes the feel from it's counterpart in the intro. I really only have one way of closing this review, and it only takes one word. Wow. (10/10)

11) For the Glancing Smile

When I first heard this piece of music, it didn't phase me one bit. As I listened further, I realized that this was an arrangement of "Flower Blossom Guide" from Phantom Brave. One of my favorite character themes from Sato, it described the carefree girl, Marona, perfectly. In this arrangement, there seems to be a much more playful atmosphere. The signature violin heard in the original is still ever present, however Sato added some brass sections and woodwinds to match the feeling of this soundtrack. Overall, he did a fantastic job and I'm glad to see a piece from my favorite Sato work make it on this album. (9/10)

12) Deep Piano

"Deep Piano" is a track that surprisingly isn't primarily focused on the piano. Sure, you'll hear accents from the piano and it does play the accompanying bass line, but the true focus is on an eerie collection of stringed instruments. The tense atmosphere is a perfect example of the more serious nature to this overall work and he does a fairly good job at executing it. (8/10)

13) Shocking RED

This is becoming very hard to get through! Every track so far on this disc has been WELL above average quality. This one has a bit more of a typical battle sound to it. The repetitious intro helps to build up the drama needed to absorb the rest of the piece. While this piece has an outstanding premise, the short length of the piece, and the feeling of this being a "hurry" theme of some sort, somewhat draws away from the outstanding concept this track had going for it from the intro. (8/10)

14) Requiem of Gemini

This piece holds the same vocal melody as the first disc's "Gemini". However, instead of just being a solo choir, this piece makes the addition of a marching percussion and some very heroic sounding key differences in the melody. While the original was very depressing in nature, this piece has a very strong feeling of hope. Each version has its merit, but this one just does so much more on the lines of development. An easy perfect score for me. (10/10)

15) Magician's Illusion

This piece conveys a very carnival-like atmosphere combined with bit of sinisterness. Used as another battle theme, it utilizes a strong set of instrumentation with a heavy focus on brass and percussion. In addition, the use of woodwinds for accent purposes as well as strings to help strengthen the mood of the piece help to make this piece a rather stunning theme. It's not the strongest on the album, however, it does hold its own. It's a rather entertaining piece. (8/10)

16) Wandering Phantom

"Wandering Phantom" is a particularly Arabian inspired piece. The strong use of the instruments from this region help to create a very wispy, yet playful, atmosphere. It's a very short piece, but the melody is quite strong and it helps to convey a sense of wandering. (7/10)

17) The Distant Dream is Broken

It's becoming obvious that the final battle is near. This piece is much darker than the previous tracks. It's a total orchestral track, with bell tolls layered behind the melodic instruments. The pace of this piece eventually picks up, placing heavy emphasis on the percussion. It is a great track mechanically; however, I just can't get any emotions out of it personally. (8/10)

18) Jazzy Glass

I didn't expect this at ALL. After a streak of very brooding and evil pieces, we get this. A swing jazz piece! Now, despite being out of place, I can't get enough of the piano in this piece. The melody, however, is being played by some very obnoxious brass instruments, which kill any potential the piano could have of recovering the track. Don't run away now, as this is just a personal opinion. Any fan of the typical club swing jazz will fall in love with this piece. I am just not one of those fans. (7/10)

19) Drazil's Anger

This piece has a very heavy focus on organ, piano, and violin. Unlike most of the battle themes on the soundtrack, this one is much more atmospheric and tense. The emotions in this one range from sorrowful to menacing. I just like the fact that this piece isn't a typical Sato battle theme, even though it does rely on some of his more familiar techniques. The choral vocals in this piece also help add to the suspense. One of my favorites on the second disc. (9/10)

20) Against the Wind

"Against the Wind" has a very dramatic flair to it. Essentially another short theme, the focus on crisis strings with brass accents helps to add a sense of urgency to the piece. Towards the end of the piece, the focus on brass is increased and gives the piece a sense of heroism. It's a nice, albeit short, addition to the soundtrack. (8/10)

21) Rock'n Rocks

It's now time for one of the last battle themes on the soundtrack and Sato blew me away here. Listen to my words well, as just the description will shock you. After a slew of violin based battle themes, Sato brings us a hard rock track for this battle! The track begins with a harpsichord, playing behind the screeching electric guitar, which takes over the melody once the intro is done. There is a synthesizer in the background assisting ever so lightly in the melody here, but the guitar says dominant for quite some time. After this though, we are treated to a solo, not by the electric guitar, but by the synthesizer! That lasts for a very long time, and takes us into the repeat of the piece. While that doesn't sound like a lot, the driving force behind each instrument is enough to carry this piece on its own. Put together, and you have one INCREDIBLE battle theme. (10/10)

22) Deep-six

"Deep-six" is used in the events leading up to the final battle. It keeps the same dark and evil theme from earlier pieces on the soundtrack. The special thing about this track, though, is the entire melody is played on the violin, with a string bass playing the harmony. It's short and to the point. I'm sure whatever is happening in game, this piece is a perfect fit. Another incredible string piece by Sato, who is arguably the best emotional string composer in the industry. (9/10)

23) Purgatory

Serving as what I assume is the final battle track, it follows a very familiar pattern with Sato final battle themes. The overall composition is extremely epic in nature, with a full range of instruments and a focus on chorals and brass. There are a lot of different moods to this game, from a very sinister sound to one that is a bit more exotic, and each one adds a unique flavor to the whole. The variety of instruments really helps to suck the listener in, especially with the Arabian sounding ones. In the end, this is a very good final battle theme and ends the battles found in the game rather nicely. (9/10)

24) Cradle of the Ivory Moon

"Cradle of the Ivory Moon" is the vocal theme for this game. As with Phantom Brave, Serena once again graces our presence with her voice. Her voice compliments the pure sound of the composition quite nicely. As for the composition itself, it has a very holy feel to it, but at the same time, a folky one. It's a rather nice combination. While the chorus is a big focus in the track, I find the instrumental interludes to be quite pleasing. On the whole, this is a fantastic way to end the album and Sato once again proves he can compose some beautiful vocal themes and have the correct singers to execute it marvelously. (10/10)


Folks, you are about to take a trip into one of the greatest video game albums released in recent years. While the soundtrack is not entirely consistent, there is more than enough here to satisfy any game music lover. People who are a fan of Tenpei Sato will have no trouble taking this one in. However, I feel that this collection just as accessible to non-fans as well. With the inclusion of more violin than he has ever used before, several incredible rock pieces, Celtic influences, acoustic ballads, and several other differing styles, Sato has created a work that should be accessible to anyone a fan of music.

I couldn't begin to recommend this album enough, aside from the fact that there are a few tracks here I don't really like. On that note, I can't give this a perfect score. What I can do, though, is tell each and every one of you to get it anyway. The American version, the Soul Nomad and the Soul Eaters Original Soundtrack, is available to purchase from Rosenqueen's website and is identical in terms of track listings to the Japanese original. I can promise it will be one of the best album purchases you have ever made.

Overall Score: 9/10