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The Black Mages - Vol. II:The Skies Above CD (album) cover


The Black Mages


Progressive Metal

3.33 | 24 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars 2.6 stars

The follow up to the excellent debut. This album is not bad, but nowhere as great as the previous one. The music is very similar: Prog Metal covers of Final Fantasy tunes. Some of these are not as well known as the ones in the first album, but I've grown to like most of those. The progressive feel is a bit lost here, and there are less keyboards.

The Rocking Grounds begins the album in a high note, a rocking battle tune with memorable melodies. There's a keyboard riff that marks a different tempo which is done very well. Zeromus is a bit more complex and one of the proggiest tracks in the album. There is a lot going in there! Vamo' Alla Flamenco, as its title suggests, is influenced by flamenco. Both acoustic and electric, this is a groovy piece with a great flamenco section in the middle. Hunter's Chance is another soft metal piece with good melodies. The song is a bit upbeat and contain a wild moment around 2 minutes into the track. Good synthesizer work here. Matoya's Cave is easily the best track in the album. It is one of the few tracks where The Black Mages soften up a bit. The song starts acoustically, goes through brilliant bluesy music with keyboard soloing, guitar soloing, and the great melodic theme. A man with the Machine Gun is a fast paced metal song with a weak theme, but a wild soloing section saves it. Maybe I'm a Lion has good guitar work, but it is not one of the highlights.

Overworld just does not work. The original was a death metal song with grunts, while this is softer and has a female vocalist way out of place. The Skies above is a disaster. It begins with the piano theme of Final Fantasy 10 but unexpectedly goes through metal riffery very out of place. This is the proggiest track of the album, but also the worst one. The singer ruins everything and just mutilates the song. Battle with Four fiends is not bad, but not interesting enough. the last song of the album "Blue Blast" is another typical heavy metal tune, but is unmemorable and do we really need another of these songs?

Highlights: Matoya's Cave, Vamo Alla Flamenco, Hunter's Chance.

Let Downs: Otherworld, Battle with the Four Friends, The Skies Above, Blue Blast

My Grade: C-

Zitro | 3/5 |


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