Revangelion, ready for launch.
Longtime listeners of the show know that I love me some anime. Toonami and Adult Swim both introduced me to anime when they aired shows like Inuyasha, Dragon Ball Z, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Trigun, Cowboy Bebop, and the occasional The Big O. I’ve been watching anime ever since those Junior High days and one that I finally saw a few years ago was Neon Genesis Evangelion. After watching the entire series, I watched it again, this time with my wife accompanying me. The show fascinated both of us with it’s puzzling plot, flawed and complex characters, and subtle-to-drastic religious overtones towards the end of the series. The series is quite the mind-trip but it remains as one of my all-time favorites.
One of the many things that make NGE stand out is it’s music. Whether it’s the upbeat and iconic “A Cruel Angel’s Thesis” that opens every episode, the tense and anxiety-inducing strings of “Angel Attack”, or the calming breath of fresh air that “Fly Me To the Moon” is at the end of each episode, the music helps different parts of the show stick in your brain.
When I heard that Brian Altano, editor at IGN, was working on an album directly inspired by the series, my attention reared it’s head like the Eva-01 about to go berserk. Shout-out to Brian Altano, by the way, for sending us a review copy of the album. Now, onto our review.
Revangelion is described as “a 21 minute, 7-song long instrumental album produced by Brian Altano and inspired by the classic anime series “Neon Genesis Evangelion.” Featuring remixes, samples, and reinterpretations of the original soundtrack.” The track list consists of the following songs:
- A Cruel Angel’s Thesis
- A Crystalline Night Sky
- Rei Ayanami
- Hedgehog’s Dilemma
- Fly Me to the Moon
As part of this review, I listened to the originals of the songs featured on Brian’s album; sometimes side-by-side. The reinterpretations of the songs still feel very Evangelion. The songs take the soundtrack from an orchestral genre into something more synth/trance with hints of hip-hop. This urban filter that coats the songs makes them feel modern. The spirit of Evangelion is very much alive in these songs, even if the appearance is a bit different.
I’m reminded of the HD retellings of the Evangelion story (Neon Genesis Evangelion Rebuild) in writing this. While those HD films look nice, they don’t necessarily retain the same spirit of Evangelion (at least, in my opinion they didn’t). They lost so much in changing the story and telling it differently that, for someone who watched the original, feels out of place. With Revangelion, these songs are brought into a modern world but they still feel like Evangelion. They are not just something spruced up for a new audience; they retain the spirit of the original that fans will feel right at home.
I also appreciated Brian’s little gaming flairs that were snuck in to a few tracks. Knowing Brian is a well-respected gamer (myself being a fan of his work on Nintendo Voice Chat), it was fun to hear Navi shouting “hey” in 03-A Crystalline Night Sky. The laser sounds in 02-NERV gave me a flurry of images ranging from old school mecha anime to current mecha games while still giving an ominous and imposing atmosphere that’s so palpable in the anime when you see the NERV organization and council. There’s also subtle flairs and snippets from the anime that are well-placed. Take, for example, Tokyo-3 that uses a sound clip from the anime that is easy to miss because of how well it fits in with the track.
But the track that hooked me to the album was 04-Rei Ayanami. Rei, in the anime, is one of the most enigmatic and charming characters. She’s also one of the most terrifying. This track, while similar to the original, elevated the creep-factor and exudes Rei’s character. It’s a track that I keep coming back to again and again for another listen. It’s hauntingly beautiful strings and synths have me completely ensnared.
The track that may receive the most attention, for both good and bad from a variety of critics, is Fly Me to the Moon. When Netflix chose to remove that from the credits when they put the series on their service, I was one of the few left scratching their heads and a little perturbed at the decision. When I arrived at the final track on Revanglion, I was pleasantly surprised. The track is such a ride that, if I were to try and describe my journey through the original series, I’d just have people listen to this track. And ending it with the sounds of Eva-01 going berserk and transitioning to those iconic chirping crickets? Good grief. Well done, Mr. Altano!
I had put up an AT field when I first received this review copy; I didn’t want to be disappointed. But Brian Altano’s Revanglion tore through that AT field and took me on a nostalgic yet modern journey through my favorite series. The more I listen to it, the more I enjoy each track and find new pieces throughout. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this album over the last several days. Eva fans, give it a listen and let us know what you think in the comments below.