I absolutely love the music from Mega Ran and was looking forward to finally getting this musical treat off my candy dish, because I have a sweet tooth for hip hop. And boi, Mega Ran, Lost Perception and R23X did some fine work here weaving a lyrically fascinating narrative with the music of Final Fantasy VII.
If you're familiar with the original release of Black Materia (digitally released in 2011), then you'll know creative juices were flowing with the lyrics for each track, which collectively tell a story as the album progresses. That's still here with some positive changes (extensions or cuts) on certain tracks. However, those listening to Black Materia for the first time needn't worry about missing content from its original release, because the narrative flow and additions/cuts don't subtract from the listening experience, and if anything, improve it. Take "Cosmo Canyon" for example — the track's narrative is doubled with new lines sung by Mega Ran.
As for the lyrical content of each track, you'll find there's a rich retelling of the game's story through different point of views throughout the album. Whether you're listening to the heart-felt thoughts of Cloud's childhood in "Tifa," or Barret's bravado in "AVALANCHE," there always something fascinating within each track. With lines like:
I just keep my faith and I always keep a hand gun
No I mean it literal, cuz I got a hand gun,
I call it a gun arm,
So I'm never unarmed,
found in tracks like the mentioned "AVALANCHE," you know you're in for something special! There are some real impressive lines such as:
It's where we pray that our kids are athletic
Cuz we ain't makin it outta here wit loans and bad credit
This town can send you to the grave if you let it
Temptations and free lift to the paramedics
in "Don Of The Slums" that only adds to my appreciation and respect to the lyricist. This same appreciation and respect also extends to the beat maker, Lost Perception, with their ability to weave these crazy-hot lines together to the music of Final Fantasy VII.
What's also hot is R23X's reorchestration and remastering for this album. The production quality is absolutely a treat and a welcomed revitalization of Black Materia. In particular, the orchestral samples give Black Materia a professional quality, especially when the beats and lyrics come together. Almost all the tracks on Black Materia greatly pleases my earbuds — however, there is one major song that lost a great deal of impact: "One Winged Angel." The actual remix is fine, but the subtraction of the choir chanting "Sephiroth!" diminishes the impression the song originally held for me — especially when the choir lined up with the chorus in the original:
The meanest, the illest, the most villainous killer
of millions rocking the sword and hair of silver, its (Sephiroth)
Product of an experiment gone wrong, burn the village down and he's long gone.
His name is... (Sephiroth)
It's a tragedy that the last sung track on the album is cut like this. I'm just saddened "One Winged Angel" had to lose the choir during remastering, especially when it was — what I believe — Black Materia's showstopper. I'll somehow live...
Brushing off my despair on the last track, I do want to end with a high note that yes, I do recommend this remastered version of Black Materia. The music is excellent, the lyrics witty and entertaining, and the production quality a real improvement. However, for now, it seems the only way to go about getting your hands on this album is in the form of 2xLPs for $40. That's a little steep for some people, and I hope that in the near future a digital release of this album shows up on Loudr so game music listeners can hear with enthusiasm the reason for my excitement of Black Materia.
This review is based on a free digital review copy provided to RPGFan by the publisher. This relationship in no way influenced the reviewer's opinion of the album.
Reviewed by: Marcos Gaspar