Thunder Force IV by Takeshi Yoshida & Toshiharu Yamanishi
“The ship is ready!”
Lightning Strikes Again
Hop into your seat pilot and prepare to demolish the ORN Empire threat. Pressed on Limited Edition Blue, Black & Grey Swirl Combo by Data Discs comes the music to one of the greatest soundtracks from Sega's Mega Drive. Thunder Force IV by Takeshi Yoshida & Toshiharu Yamanishi is a powerful journey through carbon-crusted, genre-defining art. It is regarded as one of the greatest soundtracks on the Sega Mega Drive, as well as one of the greatest shoot 'em up albums ever created. Born from eclectic Eastern electronic music of the time, infused with the heaviest metal tones a sound chip could muster, Thunder Force IV is not for the faint of heart. Not to dissimilar from Streets of Rage’s synonymous rock anthems, Thunder Force IV is here to rip your head back at the speed of light.
Based out of Japan, both Mr. Yoshida and Mr. Yamanishi are best known for their work on the Thunder Force IV soundtrack and have immortalized themselves in the hallmark of video game composers with this album. A true testament of the hardware at the time, their genius teamwork on this games' soundtrack is what defined an entire genre and generation of games for years to come. Thunder Force IV is without a doubt one of the most dynamic and pulsing soundtracks to come from the Mega Drive.
Taking the same verticality of the level design in Thunder Force IV, the composers have translated that same game philosophy into their album. Creating these wide breaths in genre truly makes for a unique and thrilling experience. Inspired by metal music at the time the sound team at Technosoft lead by Naosuke Arai set out to create this masterpiece.
This album is all over the place in such an incredible way. From head bopping metal riffs to down tempo electronically infused melodic trances, Thunder Force IV runs through a genre gambit at lightning speeds. Quasar bits and black hole bass lines will draw you ever deeper into this journey to the center of each sides galaxy of grooves and tunes. The compositions on this album are so diverse and radical from track to track, with an underlying cohesiveness in the tones and melodies. The exploratory nature of the general menu and chill level tracks are so ethereal and entrancing as your needle tracks along. The music rips into the these amazing crescendos at each boss encounter, with heavy metal riffs that thrash in some of the heaviest 16bit riffs I think I have ever had the pleasure of listening to! The bass on this album isn’t so much as pounding as it is pulsing, full of some of the most amazing supernovae throwing out stardust clouds of notes. They create their own microcosm sound, reverberating off the symphony of sounds already in place. This incredible swell throughout each track brings amazing depth and flavor that really pushes some of the tracks into your complete consciousness. The quieter, more melodic tracks here give this amazing reprieve between each boss battle track, giving so much more emphasis to the erratic and punchy metal tracks. One moment you are grooving above the atmosphere, strolling past blankets of stars …and then you are thrust into a death spiral of guitar and bass, thrumming at your body with g-forces of triplets thrashing hard and fast. The range of compositions here is definitely Thunder Force IV’s crowning achievement and what I think makes this a wholly unique, retrospective look into what happens when you push hardware to the breaking points for the most exceptional results!
Data Discs have delivered yet another impeccable release. As one of the original video game music labels, Data Discs has consistently churned out amazing releases time and time again, and Thunder Force IV is no exception from that strive of excellence. Housed in a large single sleeve package adorned with the classic Data Disc OBI Strip, this release is incredibly gorgeous. With the US Lightening Force: Quest For The Dark Star art adorning the cover along with a stunning lithograph, the presentation here is amazing. Also included in the package is the ever illustrious Data Discs sticker, as well as a fold out poster featuring newly commissioned art by Taisuke Kanasaki for the 2018 re-release for the Nintendo Switch version. Mastering for this vinyl release was carried out by Shaun Crook and hits that classic Data Discs standard; a crystal clear noise floor and incredible dynamic range that truly allows the music here come through and envelope the space it’s played in. Recorded and mastered directly from original Mega Drive hardware, Data Discs methodology in creating their releases make for such a pure and true recreation of this soundtrack. From cartridge to groove is quite literally what Data Discs achieved here and it's absolutely perfect! Added in this release are the bonus Omake tracks unlocked upon completion of the game, which are a nice treat spread across the final disc of this release. The colors of the vinyl for this release are amazing to look at, blend well across this triple LP, and accent the album so well. Available in three different colors to choose from, I don't think there's a bad choice here!
I did run into some minor warping in my copy of this album, so take that into consideration when purchasing this release as your copy may be slightly bowl shaped. This did not affect playback on my copy at all and was something I didn't really notice unless I was really focusing on it.
All in all, I think this release is exactly what you’d expect from the seasoned team over at Data Discs and is a loving tribute to one of gaming’s greatest games and soundtracks!
Takeshi Yoshida & Toshiharu Yamanishi
Remastered for vinyl by :
Vinyl produced & distributed by:
Where to Buy?
This album is still readily available on the non-limited opaque blue directly from Data Discs as well as US distribution through Mondo on black or opaque blue as well. As one of the greatest SHMUP soundtracks of all time, this is a must-have to anyone who has played the game, or to any die-hard collectors out there. This soundtrack has all the musings you could want out of one sit down. The pure range of genres here make this a staple for any library. You will not regret picking this up even if it’s just for the Data Disc sticker!