Final Fantasy III Legend of Eternal Wind :: Review by Dave
The Final Fantasy III Legend of Eternal Wind album is an arranged compilation of tracks from the Final Fantasy III Original Sound Version. It was amongst the first set of official Final Fantasy arranged albums, and despite how early in time this album was made, it still has a good quality to it. This great quality comes from Uematsu's superb synthesizing efforts which truly brings the Original Sound Version tracks to justice. One great metamorphosis is "Dark Crystals," a track that is transformed from something small to a beautiful and powerful theme. The same thing can be said for "Roaming Sheep," too. Although not strictly down to Uematsu, its vocal beauty becomes apparent in comparison to the original.
Every album has its downfalls though, and in this case it is its narrator, Jeff Levy. His monotonous voice really takes any emotion out of the story at all, and in some cases, "Following the Wind" for example, the rest of the track is ruined, too. Despite this though, a poor narrator is easy to overcome, when each track is of a good length and variety, and also when there is diversity coming through orchestral tracks, tribal themes, and vocal tracks. All in all, this is a great effort from Nobuo Uematsu.
1) The Evil Power of the Underworld
The great thing about the tracks on this album is that they are made up form more than one theme "The Evil Power of the Underworld," for instance, is made up from "Prelude" and "Crystal Cave." In this track, the narrator tells of an earthquake which unleashed living hell upon Earth, however he tells it in a tedious fashion, and spoils the track before you even listen to it. After this though, we transition into the "Prelude" theme, a merciful gesture from Uematsu. As usual, the theme stays underdeveloped so that we can dwell upon its purity, so it is at the 2:40 mark, when we are poorly lead into "Crystal Cave," that the mood changes. This rendition of "Crystal Cave" is much more powerful and evil than its original, with a brass section providing a well required introduction to it, too. Although the transition between the two themes really doesn't work, I can say that it is a good track to listen to. It certainly has an effective amount of flair and offers to fulfil the expectations gathered from the name of the track too. (8/10)
2) Following the Wind
The narrator carries on the story with an unfortunately longer monologue. Following a series of long and mid sentence pauses, he soon gets to the main point - which is that four valiant youths will search for crystals to save the planet. The first melody appears at the 1:20 mark, and it soon becomes obvious that it is the classic "My Home Town" from the Original Sound Version. This first part reflects wholly upon the track's title, and it proves to be an inspirational and gentle opening, too. The initial melody ends after four and a half minutes of playing time, when we are introduced to "Eternal Wind." This part reflects upon the friendship side of the journey, rather than the loving side offered through "My Home Town." We soon realise that this track is telling the story of a journey when the "Battle 1" music comes in to give it an unexplored edge of team work and action. Finally, we end on "Fanfare," which is a rather a suiting end for the track. (9/10)
The narrator talks of the youth's childlike minds as they seem oblivious to any danger ahead. There are four parts in this track to represent the emotions of each character singularly. The first theme, "Roaming Sheep," is a vocal representation of a character who believes in unity and tradition, senses failure, but is persistent to succeed. The nature of the theme certainly suggests that, with the lyrics being the main key to what the character is thinking. The track lives up to its name when we move into "Chocobos!" without any obvious transition, so it is indeed a potpourri. "Chocobos!" is playful and upbeat, but it remains one of the most unchanged themes, too. This reflects upon the character's narrow-mindedness, and their childishness, too. The theme leads into the elegant "Deep Under the Water," which is wonderfully enhanced from its Original Sound Version appearance. This part of the track develops superbly, so well in fact, that we can feel the motherly status of the character. Each theme in this track is gentle, and such similarities in the melodies lead one to imagine a great unity within the group. (9/10)
4) Their Spiritual Leader
This track is about the great Doga, who is somebody that is looking down upon the youths. It is the shortest track on the album, and "Chant of the Wind" starts it off. A primitive image is given off as the theme is combined with both "Let Me Know the Truth" and "The Breeze" through a frenzy of chanting and hand drum beating. As with most primitive tracks, this track centres around a very limited set of instruments and around a single theme which isn't developed too much. Although this keeps with the style of the track, the track pales in comparison to others due to it. Even so, it isn't bad, just horrible instrumentation. (7/10)
5) Ebb and Flow
As the narrator explains, this is a track of love and hate, courage and fear, joy and pain. The themes featured within this track are "The Invincible," "Matoya's Cave," and "Castle of Hain," and although completely different in nature, they truly reflect upon the narrator's words. The first part of the track represents courage and pride through its upbeat melody and enthusiastic rhythms, whereas the latter part focuses on a more fearful and painful side of the journey. The transition into "Castle of Hain" is sudden, yet effective, as after all, they are completely different in nature. So although the track represents the narrators words perfectly, the two halves of the track really don't fit together, therefore it isn't as smooth as it could have been. There were plenty of tracks on the Original Sound Version that could have been blended together perfectly to create just the same effect. (7/10)
6) The Dark Cloud
This track represents the final stages in the journey in which our heroes meet their final foe. The first theme we hear is the rock styled "Dark Crystals," being the most changed track from its original. The original version was just melancholy, whereas this version is riddled with fear and importance, preparing us for what is to come. As with most game music rock themes, the main melody is repeated a lot to reinforce the feeling of the situation, and although this one doesn't feature as much adaptation of the melody as others might, it still gets the idea across well. Unlike the other tracks, this one features an excellent transition into the next "Last Battle" theme the pace stays the same and the drum beat is as passionate as ever. "Last Battle" proves to be a chilling end to the track as it doesn't feature a reprise, as you would expect most final battle tracks to do, but a downward spiral of threatening chords instead. This is my favourite track on the album as the absence of a narrator makes it blissful in comparison. (10/10)
The narrator describes the spirituality of this track as we enter "Everlasting World." The theme is even more beautiful than the original, with a wondrous flute playing the main line at the beginning, whilst being accompanied by a majestic harp. The melody develops further to create a superb atmosphere that is delicate yet powerful. The 2:00 mark is where the track sets off to explore a more rhythmical region, thus a more active part in the story line. This development is perfect, as it really gives a wide sense of emotions in a quick and simple way. Unfortunately the theme drags on for too long, but still, it deserves some justice by fantastically transitioning into "Opening Theme." A trumpet plays the main role here, and its elegance really adds a sense of emotion to the track. All in all, "Opening Theme" proves to create a perfect ending for the album, with its melodic and harmonic dominance echoing many a feature earlier heard. (10/10)
This album does have two immediate downfalls. First of all, the narrator spoils the emotion that Uematsu strives to create, with a really annoying, expressionless voice. Whether this is the narrator's attempt to sound interesting or mature, it proves to be a major downfall in the album's success simply due to the boredom he creates. The second downfall is that the album just seems to be a piecing together of tracks from the Original Sound Version, and in some cases, there is hardly any development, either. The worst thing about this is the transitions are unexpected, and most themes don't fit together at all.
Nonetheless, this album proves to be a good and well planned one. With a great story line to it, the album effectively tells the tale of the youths' journey and the emotions they felt during its course. One way in which Uematsu does this is through fitting contrasting emotions into the tracks, almost as if to shock the listener, which proves to be an inspirational and original feat. Another way he explores the true emotions of the characters is through experimenting with the instrumentation, and each theme from the Original Sound Version really does feature a wider variety of timbre.
Overall Score: 8/10