The Black Mages

Black_Mages

Genre:  Instrumental Rock

The Black Mages is a band that I found by complete accident (I was searching for symphonic rock bands at the time) and I’m glad I did.  Formed by Nobuo Uematsu, a Japanese video-game music composer best known for his work on the Final Fantasy series of role-playing games, in 2003.  The band arranges Uematsu’s musical compositions into a progressive rock style as well as incorporating the use of synthesizers.

They have released three studio albums so far:

The Black mages (2003)

the-black-mages

The Black Mages is an arranged soundtrack album of video game music from the Final Fantasy series of console role-playing games. The album contains a selection of musical tracks from the games, arranged and performed in a hybrid of power metal and progressive metal by The Black Mages. All of the selected tracks are “battle” music from the games. It was first released on February 19, 2003, by DigiCube, and subsequently re-released on May 10, 2004, by Square Enix.

The Black Mages II – The Skies Above (2004)

the-black-mages-ii

The Black Mages II: The Skies Above is an arranged soundtrack album of video game music from the Final Fantasy series of console role-playing games. Like the previous album, the album contains a selection of musical tracks from the games, arranged and performed in a hybrid of power metal and progressive metal by The Black Mages. Unlike their first album, the arranged tracks include other songs besides battle tunes; the album also features vocal tracks, which were performed by Kazco Hamano, credited as “KAZCO”, and Tomoaki Watanabe, or “Mr. Goo”. It also includes a non-Final Fantasy track, “Blue Blast – Winning the Rainbow”, an original piece that was created for Japanese K-1 fighter Takehiro Murahama. It was released on December 22, 2004, by Universal Music.

The Black Mages III – Darkness and Starlight (2008)

the-black-mages-iii

The Black Mages III: Darkness and Starlight is the third arranged soundtrack album of video game music from the Final Fantasy series of console role-playing games. The album contains a selection of musical tracks from the games, arranged and performed in a hybrid of power metal and progressive metal by The Black Mages in a similar manner to their previous albums. It was released on March 19, 2008 by Sony Music. The album has 10 tracks and a length of 60:40. The Black Mages themselves sing the chorus for the song “Darkness and Starlight”, the only vocal track on the album. Like the previous album, Darkness and Starlight features an original song, “Life ~ in memory of KEITEN ~”, which was written by Uematsu for Yoshitaka Tagawa, a boy he had met who had and later died of leukemia.

The Black Mages have only performed three Live shows to date.  The first, “”THE BLACK MAGES” LIVE: Featuring Battle Music of FINAL FANTASY”, was held in Shibuya, Tokyo in 2003 and later released on DVD exclusively to Square Enix fanclub members. The second concert, “THE BLACK MAGES LIVE “above the sky”: Featuring The Music of FINAL FANTASY” was held in Kawasaki City, Japan and similarly released on DVD to club members. The third concert, “THE BLACK MAGES III Darkness and Starlight LIVE”, was held at the Yokohama Blitz in Yokohama, Japan and was released on DVD on March 25, 2009.

I think Final Fantasy fans will appreciate this band the most.  It’s nice to hear new variations of classic songs and themes as well as the live performances.  If you are able to locate the albums or import them I’d recommend doing so.  There’s also plenty of clips from their live shows on Youtube if you’re just curious.

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