In 2007, NIS America promoted its parent company's music through releasing a compilation album, Netherworld Harmony Inaguration. This album features 27 selections from four of Nippon Ichi Software's landmark soundtracks, Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories, Makai Kingdom: Chronicles of the Sacred Tome, and Phantom Brave. While it gives some insight into these soundtracks, it lacks somewhat as an overall listen and omits many favourites.
A considerable number of the selections are from the first and best Disgaea score. "Lord Laharl's Hymn" introduces the castle of the undisputed Overlord of the Netherworld, the main character Laharl, with a magnificent concoction of devilish female vocals and jubilant jazz instrumentals. With its peculiar blend of haunting and fun material, it brings back memories of Danny Elfman's "This is Halloween", but is also true to Sato's own musicality. Another vocal theme, the "Etna Boogie" blends a temptress' vocals with big band jazz. It's explicit in its execution, featuring risqué lyrics like "Tonight a dangerous lady has made you her target... She'll enchant all men". An excellently done composition, whether you find it alluring or not. Another classic is "Aah, My Magnificent Life", where a tenor Italian opera singer dazzles listeners with a powerful performance against quasi-orchestral accompaniment. Though parodic in places, this theme is integral to the character and diversity of the game and soundtrack and convincing in its execution from composer and vocalist alike.
Moving to the Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories selection, "Sinful Rose" provides a memorable introduction to the game with an uplifting pop singer and extravagant violin work. Unfortunately, this version has a playtime of just 1:39, meaning it feels over just after it has begun; the full length version is exclusive to the Arrange Soundtrack. The instrumental selections are mainly solid highlights. "Shinobi Dance" is one of the most rhythmically and melodically compelling tracks on the score, making dazzling use of ethnic flutes. "Elegy of the Tundra" is another unbelievably beautiful work focusing on pan flutes and other Chinese instruments to paint a complex scene. "Song of the Gods" brings plenty of expectation with an organ and choir opening, although the body itself is a little more vanilla, but "Demon's Trill" makes up for it with a climactic rock theme. Other additions range from jazz numbers such as "Wonder Castle" to guitar-focused folk music in "Heroic Blues". The classic "Lord Laharl's Hymn" is also reprised in a cute three voice chiptune remix.
Aside from a single, albeit extremely satisfying nod to Phantom Brave in "Heavens Garden", the rest of the album focuses on the music from Makai Kingdom: Chronicles of the Sacred Tome. Since this score was composed by seven composers, rather than Tenpei Sato by himself, it is spectacularly diverse and the Netherworld Harmony Inaugaration certainly reflects this. Two of the melodic standouts are the main theme and "Demon's Party". However, neither are quite as well-produced as Sato's composition, the former coming aross quite bombastic and clumsy, the latter sounding a little too derivative. More interesting is the ethnic-influenced arrangement of the latter in "Sabat", although its elements are still a little superficial. Other stylistic deviations include the trancey "Quiet Tension", nationalistic "The Duke of Darkness", and the choral-based final battle theme "Apocalypse". This selection certainly captures the diversity of the score, but also its slightly lacking character compared with Disgaea's Netherworld soundtracks.
Netherworld Harmony Inaugaration is a compelling introduction to the distinctive sound of Nippon Ichi's RPG soundtracks. There is a plenty of variety here from both the vocal and instrumental themes, and several selections from both Disgaea and Phantom Brave prove particularly good. That said, the album does lack cohesiveness and jumps between soundtracks and styles in a seemingly random manner. Furthermore, there are many notable omissions from each soundtrack represented, meaning most will want to make further purchases to feel satisfied. The result is a fine sampler for those considering explore Sato and co.'s music, but not such a good overall listen in its own right.