Bonus Round! Soundtrack Review - Successor

Soundtrack: Successor: Final Fantasy VIII Remixed
Album Art Source
Year: 2016
Composer: Nobuo Uematsu, arranged by the fans
Stand Out Track: You'll have to listen to the two previews and decide. What a selection!
Works Well With: Writing anything.

When the Materia Collective announced they were releasing a second album I was so excited. Even though Final Fantasy VIII is not one of my favourite games in the series, I love the soundtrack. Liberi Fatali is up there with One Winged Angel if you ask me. The game's score definitely has some of Uematsu's best work on it. And after the hard work the wonderful musicians, arrangers, technicians and producers put into Materia last year, I knew I was going to be in for a real treat - and so are all of you. Thanks again, Materia Collective! You've given me another fantastic album to explore. Apologies in advance for not naming you all individually, but rest assured I am in awe of your talent and dedication. Listening to this album over the past few days has been a joy.

As with Materia, Successor surely includes every instrument known to mankind, and covers an astonishing array of musical genres - including opera! There are some brilliant mash-ups, too. Listen to Disc One's Maybe I'm a Lion and you will hear what I mean. Who knew you could blend mariachi, classical and metal to make something so awesome? I also love how the artists have transformed familiar songs into different genres. It's so much fun to hear an a cappella version of The Man With a Machine Gun. I didn't know I needed it until I heard it. The old-timey feel of Mean Ol' Griever and Side Show Part Deux wouldn't sound out of place in Bioshock:Infinite. I love all of these unusual tracks because they aren't a kind of music I listen to frequently, and it's always super exciting to be treated to something different. The Materia Collective have created another superbly varied album. Successor sounds so different to Materia, and yet they compliment each other beautifully. That takes talent and dedication. And, just like with Materia, Successor has kept the spirit of Nobuo Uematsu's music intact, and just like the original recordings, these capture the imagination and swell with emotion.

The album starts boldly. You have to love a blend of metal, choral and orchestral sounds. Just like the game's opening cutscene, this album hits you immediately with its strength and determination. Something epic is coming your way, and you'd better be ready. And when I heard the opening strings of Starting Up on Disc One, I had chills. It's soooo good, especially if you like some epic guitar accompanying your more traditional orchestral music. 

Chrysalis is a version of a battle theme I didn't know I needed in my life. Who knew slowing it right down would make is sounds so good? And the Disc 2 version of Maybe I'm a Lion wouldn't sound out of place in my local Superdry store. Love that chilled down club feel it has to it.

Being a writer, I love anything with a sense of mystery to it. Tracks like that never fail to inspire my imagination. Check out And... on Disc Three. It feels like you've walked into a contemporary art showroom and the performance is taking place around you. Then there's a piano version of Find Your Way that not only gave me chills, it reminded me exactly why it's one of my favourite Uematsu songs. It has that perfect sense of a haunting mystery to it.

There are some wonderful, mellower pieces on here, too. Blue Fields on Disc One is perfection, as is The Warm Winds of Balamb. I could make such a good playlist out of  all the album's soothing tracks as a way to wind down after a long day. Or, if I need to pep myself up for work first thing in the morning, I know I'll be busting out Disc 4's Fated Children. You will feel like you can take on the world.

The album's finale builds over the final tracks and hits that great hopeful and uplifting note any Final Fantasy game should end on. It proves just how much care and attention has been put into creating this; every track flows so perfectly into the next throughout Successor, but it's truly spot on at the end.

So thank you, amazing people of the Materia Collective. I am going to be listening to this for a long, long, long time to come. Honestly, my notes for this review are track names with hearts by them. I had so much fun listening to this music, and this little review is my way of sharing my gratitude with you all. Thank you.

And, ah, Final Fantasy IX next? :D :D :D You know you all want to remix You're Not Alone...

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