No two ways about it… The Black Mages are by far my favourite rock group, and right now my overall favourite music to listen to! Plus, their bass is my personal inspiration to aspire to. (And no, they aren’t evil death metal – the Black Mage is a character class in the Final Fantasy series that casts attack spell.)
If you’re a Final Fantasy fanatic and wonder what’s so great about some old rock band, then get the following: The genius savant master himself, Nobuo Uematsu is their organist. They play totally rocking, real-instrument remixes of Final Fantasy music tracks, including the hardest rocking battles. Need I hype more?
They have amazing technical skill, timing and complementing of each other. They have excellent melodies courtesy of Nobuo Uematsu’s genius composing.
And you can see just how much FUN they’re having playing their best! Look at them laughing, smiling, swaying, bouncing up and down to the beat without a care… Now THAT’S what great music is all about! Not skill, not speed, not hardcoreness… But the genuine feeling!
Image sourced from http://www.doupe.cz
With a music style heavily reminiscent of 80’s and video-game rock nostalgia, plus being the always-cool JRock, they’ve released two wicked albums. And now you can get to see and hear them playing at their live concerts, courtesy of YouTube! With several cameras and generous zoom-ins, the technical fans among you can catch their blazing fast moves.
Although not as smooth or perfectly polished as their studio recordings, but it’s refreshingly different… And it’s still more than enough for you to: Enjoy!
To start you off, my personal fave tracks in order are: Matoya’s Cave (FFI), Zeromus (FFIV), The Decisive Battle (FFVI), The Rocking Grounds (FFIII), Force Your Way (FFVIII), and Clash on the Big Bridge (FFV). Now on to the music…
“THE BLACK MAGES” Live
1. J-E-N-O-V-A (FFVII) – Very techno, not a favourite of mine, and can’t find the live band version anyway.
2. Force Your Way (FFVIII) – Keyboard and guitars show off their skill!
6. Matoya’s Cave (FFI) – A little too soft, so turn up those speakers. See Track 13 in LIVE “Above The Sky” for more.
7. Those Who Fight Further (FFVII) – Followed by instrumental solos as band members are introduced… And Chocobo!
9. Clash on the Big Bridge (FFV) – Gilgamesh! Couldn’t find the first concert’s version, so see LIVE “Above The Sky” track 10 for it.
LIVE “Above The Sky”
1. The Rocking Grounds (FFIII) – Perfect titular description.
2. Zeromus (FFIV) – Better in the studio recording, but great stuff nonetheless.
4. Battle Theme (FFVI) – Different from “THE BLACK MAGES” Live version.
6. Vamo’ Alla Flamenco (FFIX) – Spanish feel, with beautiful Spanish guitar.
7. Maybe I’m A Lion (FFVIII) – Hard and heavy rock, with middle part done in the technically-skilled style of Dream Theatre’s instrumental Erotomania, or Finnish group Stratovarius’ instrumental Stratosphere.
8. Those Who Fight Further (FFVII) – Different from “THE BLACK MAGES” Live version.
10. Clash on the Big Bridge (FFV) – Different from “THE BLACK MAGES” Live version.
11. Otherworld (FFX) – Featuring KAZCO’s impressive vocals for the lyrics. The bridge is totally Megadeth!
12. The Skies Above (FFX) – Vocals by Mr. Goo.
13. Matoya’s Cave (FFI) – The closest song to being sentimental rock, with an old rock ‘n’ roll style in the middle and an ‘8-bit nostalgia’ piece towards the end. You can clearly catch each of the different instruments’ contribution to the song, love the bass. Jazzman Jon Chen says it’s all very Deep Purple.
1. The Rocking Grounds (FFIII)
2. Maybe I’m a Lion (FFVIII)
3. One Winged Angel (Advent Children) – The whole shebang with the Black Mages rock band, conductor, full orchestra and Latin vocals choir… Complete with video screens, strobing lights and lengthy rock opera bridge! Totally cool experience! Originally from FFVII, this version is the one used in Advent Children CG animation movie, different lyrics from the FFVII game.
And from their third tour, a promo where they play Neo Exdeath:
And in case any are removed…
You can just search for black mages. Cheers!
PS. Related to my previous post on the classical versions of Final Fantasy music – Tour de Japon – Music From Final Fantasy.