In 1999, the R-Type series made its leap to technologically liberating consoles with R-Type Delta for the PlayStation. The soundtrack for the title was particularly ambitious with its hybridised stylings and emotional intensity. All the music was created by the music production company USP, who previously contributed to Konami's MIDI Power series and have gone on to score most recent Irem titles. Unlike earlier episodes in the series, the soundtrack received a stand-alone release at the same time as the game, complete with two bonus tracks.
Following a couple of short but fitting tracks for the opening and select screens, the first stage theme "Crazy Machine" introduces the futuristic sound listeners should expect from the soundtrack. One of the lighter tracks on the soundtrack, Haruhiko Kuroiwa places the focus on catchy melodies on the synthesizer and funky licks in the accompaniment. Nevertheless, he still captures the futuristic imagery of the game's visuals with rich synth soundscaping and industrial rock influences. There are some more electronic focused sections scattered throughout the soundtrack, but they are much more sophisticated than those in previous R-Type soundtracks. Overall, a wonderfully developed theme with a ton of variety in terms of soundscape.
Keiji Ueki's two tracks used during the second stage are melodically related, but are styled very differently. The track for the midair portions is a rich yet conflicted blend of futuristic keyboard work, ominous choral accents, and ethereal piano notes. In contrast, the water portion features dampened synth work and bubbling sound effects within a much more downbeat mix. Both tracks are remarkable in their own right, with their extensive development and mature styling, yet are even more impressive when paired together. Another highlight is Eisaku Nambu's "Corrosion" for the fourth stage. It is instantly accessible thanks to its sinister opening hook and heroic brass parts. There's plenty of contrast in this theme too and it really helps to build an intense atmosphere.
As the soundtrack develops, there is a subtle shift towards horror elements. In context, the third stage theme "Gigantic Attack" by Hiroshi Ebihara is perfect for depicting an onslaught of enemies with its apocalyptic crisis motifs and badass rock riffs. However, it is less satisfying on a stand-alone level given the introduction lasts a bit too long and the repeated lead, whil effective in creating tension, grows old rather quick. The development is fortunately more impressive with its soulful electric guitar solos and amazing choral additions. Another less accessible theme by the composer is "Evil" for the fifth stage with its industrial synth and horrifying interjections. It's highly experimental and more reminiscent fo the Darius series than earlier R-Type soundtracks. While it develops nicely, this track is so lengthy might be burdensome to some listeners.
The music provides little comfort for the intense action featured at the game's climax. For the penultimate stage "Awakening", Ebihara crafts another expansive fusion of all sorts of elements, including moody synth parts and hardcore rock sections. It's a perfect way to take listeners towards the finale and, for those who enjoy more ambient music, will be worthwhile stand-alone listening too. The last stage theme "Life" is even more spectacular. Placing the focus on a heavenly chorus, Kuroiwa at last introduces a human influence into this otherwise inorganic soundtrack and strikes gamers on a personal level. But this chorus is not entirely soothing and, in conjunction with the ethnic vocals during the development, has a subtly ominous and surreal effect. After some potentially divisive pieces, it's nice to see an atmospheric piece that manages to capture a wonderful soundscape without boring the listener.
There are three boss themes of varying enjoyability as well. "Encounter Enemy" is a rock-oriented theme featuring frenetic guitar lines written in a pseudo-improvised manner. It doesn't really do much melodically, but it is an energetic battle theme that gives off some nice tense energy. On the other hand, "Encounter Bydo" is a darker and more ominous theme, featuring an interesting blend of industrial and gothic influences. It definitely creates a sense of tension, but at the same time, it isn't the most interesting of boss themes. Finally, "Last Dance," the last boss theme, continues the atmosphere heard in "Life" by incorporating the same choral vocals. It nevertheless reflects the more intense action by adding a powerful, suspenseful orchestral atmosphere. It's a very unorthodox final boss theme for a shmup, but it does manage to portray a very foreboding battle while appealing on a stand-alone level too.
There are a couple of bonus themes exclusive to this soundtrack release. The game's image theme "Dead End" is a straight rock theme that isn't as complex or moody as the rest of the tracks here. While some of the riffs here are pretty generic, some of the synth and guitar solos are very enjoyable and are reminiscent of some 70s artists. There is also a new age arrangement of the ending theme "Peace". This track fleshes out the original synthscapes with contemplative oboe solos and reverberating piano ostinati, before eventually heading towards a grandiose conclusion. It's a beautiful piece, but I would have preferred arrangements of some of the more substantial stage themes instead, given they offered potential for much more creative approaches. The release closes with a sound effects collection.
The soundtrack for R-Type Delta is a pleasing reflection of how composers went on to experiment and excel with the opportunities offered by liberating hardware. Most of the tracks are incredible for some reason on this release, both in the game and outside of it, and the release will likely appeal to most that enjoy intense and atmospheric hybrids. However, it may be better to purchase the soundtrack as part of the more encompassing and available R-Type Retro Game Music Collection.