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THE BLACK MAGES were a Japanese progressive rock / progressive metal band. They formed in 2002 when Final Fantasy video-game composer Nobuo Uematsu (keyboards) decided, having heard and enjoyed rock arrangements of some of his Final Fantasy themes by Kenichiro Fukui (keyboeards, guitar) and Tsuyoshi Sekito (lead guitar), to form a band to showcase these arrangements. The other members include Keiji Kawamori (bass), Arata Hanyuuda (drums) and Michio Okamiya (guitar).

The band revised some of Uematsu's most popular fighting themes from the games of the Final Fantasy line in order to publish them in newly-arranged shape on the album The Black Mages: Battle Music of Final Fantasy. The Black Mages' overall style is a complex hybrid of progressive rock and neo-classical power metal. The songs on the first album are all instrumental and all arrangements of battle themes. The Black Mages' second album, entitled The Skies Above,
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THE BLACK MAGES albums / top albums

.. Album Cover 3.51 | 3 ratings
The Black Mages: Battle Music of Final Fantasy
Progressive Metal 2003
.. Album Cover 2.54 | 3 ratings
The Black Mages II: The Skies Above
Progressive Metal 2004
.. Album Cover 2.05 | 2 ratings
The Black Mages III: Darkness And Starlight
Progressive Metal 2008


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.. Album Cover
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Black Mages Live
Progressive Metal 2003


THE BLACK MAGES The Black Mages II: The Skies Above

Album · 2004 · Progressive Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Nobuo Uematsu and his dastardly clan of Black Mages are back with 'The Skies Above', a sequel to their self-titled debut which features progressive metal versions of music composed for the Final Fantasy video games (composed, I should add, by Uematsu himself).

Random nugget for you, but I've never played any of the Final Fantasy games.

Now, I'm not usually a big fan of instrumental albums. While I do enjoy the music, I find it tedious sitting through so much of it in one go, so it's surprising to me that 'The Black Mages', the bands first outing, is a personal favourite of mine, and was awarded as such, with five stars.

'The Black Mages' was heavily keyboard-driven, full of energy and overall a lot of fun. 'The Skies Above' just seems the complete opposite. The songs seem more guitar-oriented, and the fun and enthusiasm of the first seems to have been replaced by super seriousness. It's not bad, but this album just lacks that joyful energy.

There's two songs with vocals this time around. 'Otherworld' and 'The Skies Above'. Both are good songs, and the vocals do break up the monotony a little. On the instrumental side of things, tracks like 'Hunter's Chance', 'The Man With the Machine Gun' and 'Battle With the Four Fiends' are notable tracks that make this album a worthy purchase, but sadly none of them live up to what's come before.

'The Skies Above' is a bit of a mixed bag. There's some good songs and some bad ones. There's a lot of styles covered which keeps things somewhat interesting, and the musicianship is of a high standard, though sometimes wasted on uninteresting arrangements. Overall, it's a good album, but if it's your introduction to the band then you're better off going with their self-titled debut.

THE BLACK MAGES The Black Mages: Battle Music of Final Fantasy

Album · 2003 · Progressive Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
I've never played any Final Fantasy games. Yet, this hasn't hindered my enjoyment of listening to the Black Mages one bit.

I've always had an appreciation for video game music, even though my gaming days may have died out around the same time the PS2 did, the moods and atmosphere in the music, as well as the nostalgia they incite, always struck a chord with me.

I had a keyboard player friend who was a fan of the Final Fantasy series (of which I've never played), and he turned me on to the music of Nobuo Uematsu, the games composer. In particular, he played me the song 'Clash on the Big Bridge'. I loved it! It was catchy, energetic and fun to listen to, taking me right back to my childhood days playing my Sega Master System, Super Nintendo and my Game Boy (the original, big white brick with a green screen. I still own it, it still works. Nostalgia rules!).

So who are the Black Mages?

Formed by Nobuo Uematsu, the Black Mages are essentially an instrumental band who do progressive metal versions of Final Fantasy soundtracks (Not that I'd recognize them anyway, I've never played the games). Video game music and prog? Yes please!

Overflowing with vibrant energy, excellent musicianship and lavish orchestrations, the Black Mages self-titled debut album is just a fun listen from start to finish. 'Those Who Fighter Further', 'Clash on the Big Bridge', 'Fight with Seymour', 'Battle Scene' and 'Dancing Mad' are some of the highlights on this record, but in all fairness every song is pretty much an amazing musical adventure!

And the great thing is, I've never even played any Final Fantasy games! Just goes to show you don't need to be a fan of the source material to enjoy something.

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