Final Fantasy V -The Fabled Warriors-
Final Fantasy V -The Fabled Warriors-
September 10, 2010
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OverClocked ReMix’s The Fabled Warriors I -Wind- is the first in a planned five-part series of remixes of Nobuo Uematsu’s venerable Final Fantasy V soundtrack. The concept behind the album is as intriguing as it is ambitious: the fourteen main themes of Final Fantasy V are to be remixed in job-specific arrangements for each of the 24 jobs (25 if you want to get technical…), with bonus remixes for each principal character of the game added to round out each album. Wind accomplishes this task in a slightly dissonant manner, with a lack of a clear genre or theme to unite the nine tracks, ultimately serving to the album’s detriment. Given the collaborative nature of this album and the fact that OverClocked ReMix boasts 1,295 active artists — eight of which contributed to this album — this was hardly unexpected.
Because the Wind Crystal’s suite of jobs are unlocked first in Final Fantasy V‘s storyline, it follows that this album focuses on the six jobs available from it: Knight, Monk, Thief, Black Mage, White Mage, and Blue Mage. In addition, this album offers remixes for two principal characters, “Path to Glory ~Theme of Bartz~” and “Vessel of the Void ~Theme of Exdeath~”, both of which possess the same guitar-driven Dragonforce / The Black Mages influenced composition despite each being remixed by different artists. “Path to Glory” is the weaker of the two by far, as the melody is ground under gritty guitar riffs and preserves little of the bucolic feeling of “My Home, Sweet Home” (Uematsu’s introduction of Bartz’s theme in the game). “Vessel of the Void” resonates with the former’s intensity but still delivers the feeling of the original track which is understandable, given Exdeath’s role in the game (as the big baddy).
“Edge of Valor ~Theme of Knight~” is suspiciously reminiscent of staples from the SoulCalibur series with a rising swell of strings and driving drum rhythms punctuated by cymbal crashes and trumpet descants. It loses focus towards the two-minute mark, which is a shame since the resolving theme of “Edge of Valor” unifies the disparate elements of the piece and is quite good. “Gentle Fist ~Theme of Monk~” is an enjoyable and upbeat, if generic, pan-Asian piece which could serve well in the soundtrack to any Yimou Zhang martial arts fight sequences. It, too, also sounds like it belongs on a SoulCalibur soundtrack (Seung Mina’s or Xianghua’s stage, perhaps) and so it is a natural piece to follow “Edge of Valor”.
The next three tracks on the album are grouped perfectly for their unified sound and create a distinctive third atmosphere from the first pairs of tracks mentioned above. The staccato “In the Shadows ~Theme of Thief~” is psuedo-industrial in feel and is driven by temple blocks, synthesizer and —,; so help me — glockenspiel. The techno backbeat is a touch too trashy to feel at home on this album, although thanks to it I could imagine “In the Shadows” playing at the Victoria’s Secret fashion show if they ever did a fall line based on the 24 jobs of Final Fantasy V.
“Little Black Book ~Theme of Black Mage~” employs distortion effects and the tried and true theme-and-variation model to deliver a solid standalone track, although the influence from the theme from the quintessential Black Mage, Final Fantasy IX‘s Vivi, is quite clear. “Lore of the Ancients ~Theme of Blue Mage~” is slower in tempo but offers the same electronica sound of the preceding two tracks. The unified sound of the album is first felt at this point, although it’s entirely forgivable to confuse “Lore of the Ancients” with either “In the Shadows” or “Little Black Book” until a couple of listens.
“A Healer’s Touch ~Theme of White Mage~” is the first track in which the most recognizable theme from Final Fantasy V (“Dear Friends”) and Final Fantasy in general (the arpeggiated harp prelude) are heard. The loose acoustic guitar work is quite good, as is the more meandering tempo which serves as a welcome counterpoint to the more manic tracks on the album. This makes “A Healer’s Touch” fairly incongruous with the rest of the album, but an instant favorite for most listeners and fans of the franchise. It finds a thematic partner in “See You Next Time ~WIND~”, which relies on a pan whistle to carry the melody before the series-defining prelude is heard, but they both feel out of place on this album.
I’m always wary when an album has a trailer, but given the fan-made nature OverClocked ReMix’s The Fabled Warriors I -Wind-, it was something of a necessity for the sake of publicity. This misgiving aside, this album is an admirable piece of composition on the whole, but it would have held together better if OverClocked ReMix had decided on whether they wanted to create a guitar-driven rock opus, auxiliary stage themes for a medieval fantasy fighting game, or a midi-inspired techno album. The best that can be said for The Fabled Warriors I -Wind- is that it demonstrates the range of possible ground that OverClocked ReMix can cover and clearly showcases the love that each remixer has for the source material. Speaking for myself, I’ll keep an ear out for the next four installments since I’m interested to hear what they remix for the themes of Mime, Beastmaster, Chemist, and Cannoneer, which should be on Water, Fire, Earth, and Dawn respectively, in case you’re also interested.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Matt Diener. Last modified on August 1, 2012.