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The Black Mages - The Black Mages CD (album) cover


The Black Mages


Progressive Metal

3.56 | 39 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars The Black Mages - The Black Mages 3 stars

Video game music turned into metal songs? No, this is much more then that.

The musical composer of one of the biggest video game franchise, "Final Fantasy", is Nobou Uemastsu. Besides the nice storylines that are revealed while playing any game in this RPG franchise, the most noticeable thing is easily the soundtrack. Rather then just adding background music to the game, Uematsu actually brings the music to the forefront, pulling the emotions through with his necessary composed music. Nobou Uematsu is an extremely talented keyboard player who should be taken more seriously, sadly not probably because of the fact that he composes game music. Even so, his compositional talents have been made known by Time Magazine as an innovator in the 'next wave - music' article. His biggest accomplishment probably comes from winning the 'Song of the Year (Western Music)' at the Japan's gold disc award in 1999, being the first time a video game track got that award. The song was 'Eyes on Me' from "Final Fantasy VIII". Apart from that little tidbit of information, you might be surprised that among his biggest influences are Elton John and the classic prog act, Emerson, Lake, and Palmer.

Uematsu covers many different styles in the music, but the easiest term to coin it in would be symphonic and classical. He also dabbles into a little bit of electronica and has some atmospheric and minimalistic tracks.

If you played the "Final Fantasy" series, these tracks should be very familiar to the ear. This album contains mostly just the battle music from "Final Fantasy" I to X. Unfortunately this is why I think this is only a good album and kept at that. Surely if you played the games, you would know the battle music is some of the lesser works of Uematsu. His work truly shines in some themes that occur throughout the games, but saying that it is his lesser works doesn't mean it's bad or anything. So basically, the tracks are his battle themes (mostly) arranged for modern instruments being guitars, bass, keyboard and drums. The compositions are mostly guitar driven, very melodic too. At times the keyboard will take the forefront completely.

The biggest reason that might make you want to buy it is the last three songs. The first seven or all of the battle themes and key boss battle themes taking place in "Final Fantasy" I-VII. Track seven is 'Those Who Fight Further'. This is the boss battle taken from "Final Fantasy VII". If the song wasn't great enough, this track gives it the extra push with traditional instruments. They keyboard has a larger impact on it then in the original. 'Dancing Mad' is a track taken off one of the best, "Final Fantasy VI". This track was turned into a bombastic 12+ minute piece. A church organ is even used just to show how powerful this track was supposed to be, because in the game, this was played in the most crucial of moments. This features some great instrumentation that rivals even Keith Emerson sometimes in the fantastic keyboard work. This can match up well to other great prog pieces. 'Fight with Seymour' is my second favorite track on the album due to the rework of it. There is more of a techno feel to it, very complex though compared to most techno I know of. This probably features the best of Uematsu's keyboard work, this song was great!

So the reason I gave this 3 stars is because it was obviously good, but the compositions chosen was almost all battle music, which is where Uematsu shines the least. He was still able to turn them into powerful rockers though.

Sources: Time Magazine

ProgBagel | 3/5 |


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