Game Music, Reviews

The Next Chapter: Final Fantasy VII Advent Children Complete Reunion Tracks (Review)

September 23, 2009 | | 1 Comment Share thison Facebook The Next Chapter: Final Fantasy VII Advent Children Complete Reunion Tracks (Review)on Twitter

So, perhaps you were a fan of the original Final Fantasy VII Advent Children, and didn’t feel it was quite complete? Well, that’s because it wasn’t. Square Enix released their Final Fantasy VII Advent Children Complete on Blu-Ray this year, which should have caught you attention if not for the movie, at least for the little Final Fantasy XIII demo that was tucked away in the Japanese release.

Well, if you bothered to watch Advent Children Complete, you would have noticed there were some additional scenes and added scenes in the film. Those additional and extended scenes needed additional and extended music, so Square Enix got the bright idea to pay homage to their classic Final Fantasy VII Reunion Tracks CD by releasing the Final Fantasy VII Advent Children Reunion Tracks CD, complete with new and extended pieces of music. And ones that sound exactly like the originals!

Find out more about this last one in our review after the jump.

The first thing you’re going to notice is that this album is a single disc, while the original Advent Children soundtrack was 2 discs. So there are only a select number of tracks here, including the aforementioned additional and extended tracks, as well as the music from the mini-feature, -Episode Denzel-.

About those tracks that I said sound exactly like the originals? There are a lot of tracks here with the subtitle, “FFVII ACC Version” that are very close in length to their original soundtrack counterparts, and when listening back to back, the only difference I can often note is the lower volume levels on the ACC versions. While this is okay in that I like the moody “Beyond the Wasteland” and gritty “Materia,” and badass “Black Water,” I don’t get the point in titling them “ACC Version” when there’s really not much of a difference.

There are some changes here though, starting with “Sign – ACC Long Version.” See, the title says long, and true to the title, this version takes the original 1:49 track and extrapolates it out to 5:09, adding some excellent string work and fleshing out the original piano theme into something quite nice. “Those Who Fight Further” gains about two minutes on its original counterpart, working in some nice guitar solos and blaring synth work that really gets the blood pumping. Finally, “Advent: One-Winged Angel” is about a minute longer while “The Chase of Highway” is about two minutes longer. I couldn’t pick up on the differences in “Advent,: One-Winged Angel,” but noticed some quieter, contemplative sections and some extended filler in “The Chase of Highway.”

There are also a number of original tracks created for the additional scenes. “Main Theme of Final Fantasy VII – ACC Orchestra Version” is probably the one that most people were looking forward to. It’s a pretty amazing arrangement, sounding like Danny Elfman vs. Uematsu with its darker approach that makes use of lots of silence, and often works on one instrument at a time to give a sensation of isolation. It’s a pretty wicked arrangement that sounds like it would fit right in with a Batman film. There’s also a piano version of the theme titled “Main Theme of Final Fantasy VII – ACC Piano Version,” which is short and surprisingly minimalistic, but it’s always great to hear the theme.

“Music Effect” is a short ditty by Keiji Kawamori, sporting some spooky piano notes with lots of decay along with some brooding strings. It’s only 0:39 seconds, making me wish they had developed this idea out into a whole piece. There’s a short, screechy version of “Anxious Hearts,” which would have also benefited from a longer arrangement (It clocks in at 0:47), and an orchestral arrangement Aerith’s Theme titled “Aerith’s Theme – ACC Long Version” which starts out as a sweeping orchestral arrangement, which had me thinking the track title made little sense given that the original featured only a piano version, but this string arrangement eventually gives way to that original piano work, wrapping it up quite nicely.

From here, it’s on to the -Episode Denzel- tracks, of which there are 7 that total about 17 minutes of music composed entirely by Takeharu Ishimoto. It opens with yet another arrangement of the Final Fantasy VII main theme, this time titled “Daybreak ~Theme of FFVII Arrange Version~,” building on the standard orchestral arrangement with single high-pitched Rhodes piano notes to voice the melody. The thin sound of the lead really drives home the idea of “daybreak” with the strong string backing that sounds like the early rising Sun’s warmth.

“Doubt” is a minimalistic piano and percussion track that sounds tense with its overlapping and “twitchy” piano notes. “In the Sun,” on the other hand, responds with a beautiful solo piano melody. Next, “Red Sky” is tense with its repetitive and fast-paced piano progression, while “Blue Sky” is surprisingly mellow and calming. This is a great melody that I would love to see extended into a full-length track as well.

“Connected Heart ~Tifa’s Theme Arrange Version~” is another tease at 0:59. It’s pretty, as expected. “Promise” is an interesting track in that it’s put together like a vocal theme, complete with a strong melodic piano and guitar backing and a full drum set. However, rather than work in vocals, some synthesized strings with lots of vibrato do the job instead. This is a really positive track that really feels like it’s celebrating a big accomplishment. The last track, “On the Way to a Smile -EPISODE DENZEL-,” is a whimsical and airy orchestral track that eventually works in some driving percussion and a heavy bass, again sounding overwhelming upbeat.

So, what is there to say about this CD? The Final Fantasy VII main theme arrangements are definitely worth your attention, and some of the extended versions here are worth checking out if you were a fan of the original soundtrack. In terms of the original soundtrack, many of the best themes appear here mostly unchanged, although I have to fault Square Enix for leaving out the best track from the original soundtrack, “Cloud Smiles.” I don’t think anything from -Episode Denzel- will blow you away, but it’s a nice little bonus to have alongside the other tracks. I’d probably recommend this album to fans of the original score, but wouldn’t necessarily say the main theme arrangements are worth your money if you have no interest in the music of Advent Children.

Did you have high hopes for any particular track on the Reunion Tracks album? Are you appreciative of the fact that they included the -Episode Denzel- tracks?

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