The Primals Zepp Tour 2018 -Trial By Shadow-

Album Title:
The Primals Zepp Tour 2018 -Trial By Shadow-
Record Label:
Square Enix Music
Catalog No.:
Release Date:
February 6, 2019
Buy at CDJapan


The Primals Zepp Tour 2018 -Trial By Shadow- is the release of the Zepp concert from the first international tour of the band The Primals, who are dedicated to playing music from Final Fantasy XIV, and are led by the game’s lead composer Masayoshi Soken. The tour coincides with the release of the band’s first full-length album, The Primals, and this release comes in two formats: as a digital album, and as a Blu-ray video release that includes a documentary and mp3 downloads of all of the tracks.


The concert unsurprisingly covers all of the material from The Primals, and without many changes. Much of that material’s strength lies in the original tracks’ novelty at the time within the context of the game; not many boss themes in video games were heavy rock tracks, so it was easier to overlook the repetitiveness and lack of development in these songs. But this means that they haven’t aged all that well as stand-alone listens, especially since the band themselves have surpassed many of these early tracks. That said, the live setting naturally injects these tracks with energy and excitement, so that they can still be enjoyable all these years later. 

In the first half of the concert, the overall weakest track “Primal Judgment” works fine here as an opening number, quickly giving way to the more energetic “Through the Maelstrom.” It helps that track list from The Primals has been shuffled around a bit for better flow, particularly with the Heavensward tracks like “Revenge Twofold” which lack vocals; peppering these in throughout means they don’t drag like they did as a unit on the album. Guest vocalist Yui sings for “Thunder Rolls,” but she unfortunately is a bit pitchy on the more difficult passages, and doesn’t give the chorus the necessary power. Vocals on other tracks are fine, though they are helped by either playback or heavy processing. 

The middle three tracks of the concert are not from that album, though only the first of these, “Equilibrium,” is a new arrangement. Yui sings this shortened version of the song with just piano accompaniment, and though her English pronunciation isn’t great she does fine in the song, and the pared down arrangement is a nice change of pace. The other two tracks here are sung to instrumental playback. Michael Christopher Koji-Fox camps up “Good King Moogle Mog XII” with silly moogle helmets and a humorous routine. The vocals suffer as a result, though it has never been a very serious song anyways. Yui returns for “Beauty’s Wicked Wiles,” and again the main draw is more what is happening in person, as those in the venue take the opportunity to recreate the arm-waving emote from the Lakshmi battle; musically, there isn’t anything notable here.

The second half proceeds just as the first half did. The performances for “Fiend” and “Under the Weight” are pretty unsurprising, though the latter gets a big boost from the manic live energy. Yui returns again for both “Oblivion” and the “Never Let It Go” version, which are better suited to her voice, though I don’t feel they should have been back-to-back in the set list. “Exponential Entropy” and “Rise” round out the main set, the latter with the band and attendees freezing in time for a fun closing. It’s wonderful to see Soken bring out his trumpet for the delightful “Metal – Brute Justice Mode” in the encore, and it overshadows the actual closing “Locus.” The final track is an audio-only studio recording of “Oblivion” with male vocals from band member GUNN, though it’s otherwise basically the same as the original.

The Blu-ray release of course has the concert as a video recording, and the video quality has improved vastly over earlier releases of Primals performances. The camera work is solid and the editing is dynamic without being distracting from needless effects, though in terms of quality it still isn’t as crisp as it could be. But the visuals are very nice to have, and they help bring alive the performances, especially with the antics on display in a few tracks. The big bonus though is the 90+ minute behind-the-scenes chronicle of the tour, which even includes English subtitles. It’s interesting hearing about how the band reacts and adapts over the course of the tour, about the different reception in different locations (the crying in Korea!), and there’s also a glimpse of Soken’s first use of the otamatone on stage. These come together to make this one of the few Blu-ray releases from Square Enix that I feel actually delivers in content, so that it is a worthwhile acquisition for fans.


The Primals Zepp Tour 2018 -Trial By Shadow- is a great record of the band’s first tour. Although the arrangements themselves are a bit dated now, the performances are largely solid and even fun, and these live versions are my favourite way to listen to many of these tracks. If you spare the extra expense, the Blu-ray is quite worthwhile to see the band in action, and also to see the accompanying behind-the-scenes video. It’s a great release for fans, and I hope it isn’t too long before we get a follow-up to capture the band’s later improvements.

The Primals Zepp Tour 2018 -Trial By Shadow- Tien Hoang

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Posted on June 2, 2022 by Tien Hoang. Last modified on June 2, 2022.

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