Susumu Hirasawa – Berserk / Sword of the Berserk: Guts’ Rage / Berserk Millennium Empire Arc: Chapter of the Holy Demon War soundtracks

4 out of 5

Label: Tesla Kite

Produced by: Susumu Hirasawa

Included in the Haldyn Dome boxset and comprised of Hirasawa’s full Berserk anime soundtrack (including a couple of extended Forces takes), his Dreamcast video game Guts’ Rage contributions, and the opening and closing themes to the PS2 Chapter of the Holy Demon video game, the set covers the entirety of Hirasawa’s Berserk output.

Because Susumu maintained some similar themes throughout, you could full this as an expanded version of his anime score, which is one of the reasons it’s not – when all strung together – as satisfying.  That soundtrack has a natural ebb and flow to it, swinging between more orchestral tracks and harsh, grinding electronica.  That ebb and flow is certainly maintained when listening to the same here; when you get to the Guts’ Rage tracks, however, they come across as almost alternate takes on the same.  They are alternate takes that are definitely worth hearing, especially the way the menacing Zoddo II wraps in various aspects from the anime’s different themes and scrapes them against a fast, industrial beat – a sense of experimentation that crops up in more than one place on the eight included tracks, which embraces some world music elements that were not part of the original.  Susumu’s two Chapter of the Holy Demon tracks, Sign and Sign-2 are fantastic, and function perfectly as closers.  Sign is a more military-esque, aggressive take on the full and fleshed out sound he would explore on his post-Aurora solo albums; Sign-2 is celebratory and quite gorgeous.

Seeing as how the Berserk video game stuff isn’t easily gotten ahold of in a physical format, having that appended to the already-excellent anime soundtrack is awesome.  While it doesn’t best the cohesiveness of that score on its own, this is all still essential Hirasawa listening.