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Final Fantasy VII Advent Children Soundtrack :: Review by Weabblewill

Final Fantasy VII Advent Children Original Soundtrack Album Title: Final Fantasy VII Advent Children Original Soundtrack
Record Label: Square Enix
Catalog No.: SQEX-10051/2
Release Date: September 28, 2005
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan


Devoted Final Fantasy fans had waited nearly two years before the arrival of the expected Final Fantasy VII Advent Children movie. Although the plot was somewhat confusing, the action and fight scenes drew the fan base back into the nostalgia of Final Fantasy VII. Many praised the fact that Square-Enix stood true to the previous storyline and the original characters. However, others thought the new characters — Yazoo, Kadaj, and Loz (the villains) — could have been fleshed out more and with respect to where they came from and their relevance to Sephiroth and Cloud. So what about the music? The music accompanying the movie has several different elements, some are remixes of original tracks from Final Fantasy VII, others are old piano tracks, and some are completely new tracks. From those different elements, it is an album you could call as a tribute to Final Fantasy VII. But, how much material is new on this album? How many compositions did Nobuo Uematsu improve upon? It becomes harder in the judgment process to discern whether this album becomes a derivative of old material or an album that is unique and stands on its own when you mix old and new tracks together.

Old Material

In order to make an assessment of this album, let's go backward in time to the Original Soundtrack, the Reunion Tracks, and Piano Collections of Final Fantasy VII. In order to rate this album, we need to consider how it fares in comparison to the old albums. As a result, I listened thoroughly to the old tracks from those designated albums, including the piano accompaniments. There are a total of eight old or remixed tracks on this album. The Original Soundtrack was heavily criticized for using poor synthesizer sound effects that resulted in only midi-quality tracks. The soundtrack had mixed reviews because there were excellent and memorable themes, but also many tracks with questionable quality. Then later on, the Reunion Tracks came out, which was basically a collection of carbon copy tracks from the Original Soundtrack, with only "Aerith's theme, " "One Winged Angel, " and "Main Theme of Final Fantasy VII" rearranged in orchestral accompaniment. All three tracks were vast improvements over the original when I heard them, but there wasn't a lot of new material for listeners to enjoy. The Piano Collections album was nicely arranged, but never captured quite the same essence of magic as the original. In my opinion, the album was designed more for homework or reading under longer listening sessions. Sometimes the themes were soft and tender enough that you might fall asleep listening to it, but by no means do I mean that in a negative way.

Two old themes re-appearing on the Advent Children album are "Tifa's Theme" and "Aerith's Theme." Tifa's track and Aerith's track developed in the Original Soundtrack were probably two of the best themes ever conceived by Uematsu for the female characters. Both compositions were strong and simple, while still touching and emotional at the same time. But the problem in the Original Soundtrack was the sound quality, which detracted from the full impact of those compositions. Tifa's arrangement was never turned back into an orchestral version in the Reunion Tracks, and remained untouched until it was rearranged for the piano. In terms of appropriateness for Final Fantasy VII Advent Children, I would say the addition of Tifa's and Aerith's piano themes are perfect for the scenes depicted in the movie. Not much drama occurs in these scenes where Tifa enters the church or Cloud meets Aeris in the lifestream. I think this is why the producers decided to avoid the use of a full orchestra under these tracks. However from another standpoint, this was also a missed opportunity for Uematsu to present some of his creativity that he did not take advantage of originally. He could well have taken a chance at rearranging Tifa's theme instead of just placing in the piano piece. Aerith's theme in the original soundtrack was done exceptionally well, re-inserting the birth, death, and rebirth concept. On the Reunion Tracks album, the theme was revamped with the harps, woodwinds, brass, and piano to contribute to the total listening experience, which I felt was the best. I found the piano version to be lacking a crucial component of emotion in comparison to the orchestral version — it was just not quite as moving. However, the scene in which Cloud meets Aeris in the movie is not in the same dramatic situation as Aeris dying in the game. This is another reason for using a piano rather than using the orchestral version of the theme. The scenes with Tifa and Aerith are relatively peaceful, so the soft piano accompaniment was more suitable. But make no mistake about it, the piano version of "Aerith's Theme" is not in the same league with the orchestral version on the Reunion Tracks.

We now get into the old action and battle tracks of Final Fantasy VII. The battle themes, "J-E-N-O-V-A" and "One Winged Angel" come back with different remixes. During the time the soundtrack was composed, "One Winged Angel's" popularity amongst Final Fantasy fans was unmatched due to its original, powerful, and revolutionary score. The Latin choir combined with symphonic instruments, and synthetic sound effects made it one of the crowning achievements that Uematsu brought to the world of video game music. "One Winged Angel" on the Reunion Tracks had the orchestral accompaniment, but it was very similar to the original version. It somewhat lacked in length at 4:17 minutes in comparison to the 7:19 seconds we're used to hearing in the original version. Somehow the instruments used in the original version were much superior even though the sound quality in the orchestral version was much better. The piano version of "One Winged Angel" was done well in terms of using only one medium of sound, but it doesn't have the same adrenaline as the orchestral or original version. For the Advent Children version of the "One Winged Angel, " it has a more heavy-metal edge, combined with an orchestral background. This was the single track I thought the Black Mages album had left out and was long overdue. The album doesn't disappoint, as we get a new version with the distorted guitars and rough percussion late in the track to really make your skin crawl at Sephiroth's ferocity. One word describes the track: SUPERB. It's one of the quality gems on this soundtrack and is equally powerful as the original version. Put it at the top of your VGM's 2005 best anthems and cues list, because that's where it should be! We'll go into more detail in the track-by-track review.

"J-E-N-O-V-A" had the definite feel of an alien when you heard it in the context of the techno beat and keyboard accompaniment on the Original Soundtrack. The Black Mages album tried to add an extra rough-edge feel to this track. In a sense, it was an improvement on the original, but the melodies between the two are nearly indistinguishable. However, the Black Mages version was longer at six minutes and more developed. The piano version of "J-E-N-O-V-A" was entirely unfit I thought for remixing the original, but it was certainly a bold attempt by Hamaguchi. The Advent Children version of "J-E-N-O-V-A" isn't too much different from the Black Mages version, but it's heavier on the guitar section, pushing the melody. I actually enjoy the rock version of "J-E-N-O-V-A," because it balances out techno synthesizers and heavy metal for a unique alien feel. This Advent Children version is also composed quite well, but lacks the balance of the Black Mages version. This causes the bizarre atmosphere to lose its impact and effectiveness.

We now get to the "Those who Fight" and for some reason, this track didn't have as much of an impact on me as the other boss and dungeon themes in the Original Soundtrack did. The Advent Children version is the replica of the piano arrangement. Somehow it doesn't quite work in the scene with Tifa and Loz duking it out, because heavy rock and orchestral instruments would have been more appropriate. A sort of laziness is what I sensed from the track, because it could have been remixed just like "J-E-N-O-V-A" or "One Winged Angel. " Sadly, what we hear is an uninspired and disappointing piano track that does no justice for the scene. To be fair, this piano track is not bad, just it shouldn't have been in this album for the designated scene. Track 2 on disc 2 of "Those who Fight" probably would have been much more appropriate for the situation.

Now we can't go on without any mention of the opening theme of Final Fantasy VII Advent Children. This new version hits the old version with a bang on the trumpets flaring out. If you compare it against the original, you can hear the difference with ease due to the poor synth quality in the Original Soundtrack. Then, track 14 of disc 1, you get the remixed version of "The Great Northern Cave," which is very similar to the original version. Better sound quality works well in forcing a dark mood. "Cloud's Theme" gets reiterated as well as the "Prelude" in the "Ending Theme," marking the excellent nostalgia factor for revisiting the old Final Fantasy VII roots in the five-minute suite.

New Material

So we got all of the old tracks out of the way, now we get into the new material. It's been quite a long time since I've heard anything new from Uematsu (since Final Fantasy XI). Although I wasn't completely impressed with his contribution to that album, his selected compositions were well done, such as his "Opening Theme" and "Recollection" theme. So what has he been up to all this time? He's created some new tracks that go into the extreme of metal edge, other themes that stand on the border between synthesizers giving off an ambient feel to heavy rock, and a few beautifully-orchestral tracks near the end. This album is quite diverse and satisfying for people looking for new themes.

So how does the new material measure up? I can say the overall new material is enjoyable and impressive, with only rare occasions where the ambience tracks become totally unbearable ("Black Water" and "Materia," for example). They're hugely dependent on the same guitar line over and over again. The ambient and heavy metal tracks take a huge portion from the album. "Violator" is another bumpy ambient track which is next to "Black Water," but a little more discernable. "Battle in the Forgotten City" probably works as one of the best ambient tracks on the album.

The rest of the tracks are polished and arranged extremely well. The "Promised Land" is an excellent eulogy track for ones who suffered and died in the previous battle in the game, while hinting the earth's cry for help. "Beyond the Wasteland" is a great beginning action track with violins and piano working well in pushing the excitement of the motorcycle fight. The "Chase on the Highway" has a full-fledged heavy metal flavor which builds up and is quite additive in depicting how Cloud chases Kadaj. "Divinity 1" and "Divinity 2" are classics, and describe the fight of the summoned beast, which reminds me of Uematsu's earlier score of "Liberi Fatali" (Final Fantasy VIII ). Uematsu has done well in the inclusion of choir to his ensemble of music demonstrated in his previous works of "One Winged Angel" (Final Fantasy VII), "Liberi Fatali" (Final Fantasy VIII), and "Memoro de la S^tono" (Final Fantasy XI). Since then, he has never turned back, and now he adds another accolade to his famed work collection with these two tracks. Then, the final theme, "Calling," is a light-hearted track which is quite a change from the overly romantic versions you've heard from so many female vocals in "Chrono Cross, " "Xenosaga, " and "Final Fantasy. " I was actually kind of worried that we'd be hearing another carbon copy vocal in the movie, but mercifully the composers didn't do that.


I would buy this album for the nostalgia factor of the old themes as well as the new themes offered. There were only a few mediocre tracks ("Those who Fight (Piano Version)") and "Black Water" that I personally didn't like. Also, I thought "Materia" was a little underdeveloped and short. The rest of the tracks are arranged very well with the context of the movie with top notch sound quality. Also, the last eight tracks on disc 2 are just phenomenal. Kudos to the Square Enix sound team's effort for composing this album. There are so many great new themes on this album that you'll want to go back and listen to them again, such as "Chase of Highway," "Beyond the Wastelands," "End Credits," "Calling," "Cloud Smiles," and "Divinity 2." This album will surely bring you back to the old roots of Final Fantasy VII sounds while also satisfying listeners who are thirsty for fresh material.

Overall Score: 9/10

Appendix ~ Track-by-Track Reviews

1) Opening

This is where you see Red XIII run with his cubs along the dirt in the beginning of the movie. This is an orchestrated version of the beginning theme of Final Fantasy VII's original theme, with the same chiming bells heard. Later, the trumpets blast in the background to drive the theme, which is a definite improvement over the original version which suffered from poor quality synth. (8/10)

2) The Promised Land

This piece is somber and yet hauntingly beautiful with the choir in the back as if you were in a church. The chanting choir upholds the mystic and religious undertones in this track. This track reminds me a lot of "Ormus" from the Xenosaga Original Soundtrack. The chanting never gets blown out of proportion and stays mellow. (9/10)

3) Beyond The Wasteland

The beginning heart-thumping sound warns us as if something terrible is going to happen. The violin and piano strangely joins in and gives off that creepy feeling. The track's mood is mysterious while retaining that tension buildup. Then, when you get to about 1:47, the violins move faster and faster when Cloud's chased by Kadaj's gang in the movie. This piece feeds off from the tension in the first section and builds upon the full accompaniment of the bass and guitar. This is an excellent new track for the album. (9/10)

4) Sign

This is where Cloud meets the unknown man in the wheel chair. I don't want to place any spoilers here for the movie so I won't give his name. The piano theme reminds me of "Kuja's Theme" from Final Fantasy IX. It isn't until 1:10 that we hear the choir come in to support this theme. Nothing spectacular, but effective nonetheless. (7/10)

5) Tifa's Theme (Piano Version)

This is the arrangement taken from the Final Fantasy VII Piano Collections album. In this scene, Tifa's walking with Marlene in the church to find Cloud. If you could bring it all together, the piano notes sound like a lullaby (daa-dadah-dah). This character theme matches Tifa well, caring and sensitive. I felt this is an appropriate piece for the designated scene because it is not overly dramatic and thus doesn't require orchestration. However, I think others who are not as forgiving would have been more satisfied if Uematsu prepared an orchestrated version of "Tifa's Theme" here. This is definitely a track with an opportunity that Uematsu missed out on. (7/10)

6) For the Reunion

This track starts out at a blazing speed with the piano. It's amazing what Hamaguchi can do with the piano — you have to give him credit for this masterful track. This melody is quick and catches your attention when it paints the tenacity of Kadaj trying to get reunited with Jenova. There's even a wacky section where we hear a sliding loop sound from a hoola hoop! This is a unique and original theme that deserves your respect. (9/10)

7) Those who Fight (Piano Version)

A piano playing when we see two people pummeling the heck out of each other? No, this cannot be an action theme that fits well within its context. This track has never caught my ears in the Original Soundtrack, which serves as the regular action battle theme, and it sounds no better in piano accompaniment. Harsh piano notes put dissonance to your ears. Worst of all, it's a full four minutes of the same repetitive melody. It's a matter of personal taste, but I didn't think it gave me the same adrenaline feel as the other tracks. (3/10)

8) Water

Xylophones, piano, and banjo together bring a very reflective track, as Cloud looks back in the water which reminds him of Aeris. This also brings back memories of a cousin theme and extension of "Life Stream." Same type of bell chiming with exception to the banjo in the background of this version. This track was done quite nicely, even if it is repetitive. (8/10)

9) Materia

This is a very ambient track, and not much is going on. It's really uninteresting, and I can't describe anything more than two-three line melodies. If I'm not hearing incorrectly, there should be some crickets in the background. Thankfully it doesn't last long at 0:53 in length. (6/10)

10) Black Water

This is a very rough and harsh track, and even saying this is an understatement. The first couple of seconds are okay, but then it becomes more and more irritating with the monotonous repetition of the theme on the guitar. The badly frayed edge of heavy metal and wailing guitars just doesn't cut it here. I think a better theme could have been developed for this scene. (4/10)

11) Aerith's Theme (Piano Version)

Back to the original piano theme of Aerith, tender and touching. I would put the same remarks here as I did for "Tifa's Theme, " for suggesting an orchestral arrangement. However, the orchestral version on the Final Fantasy VII Reunion Tracks is already as good as it gets. To top that would have been difficult if not impossible. This theme is appropriate in the context of the movie, but there's no groundbreaking material here. (7/10)

12) Battle in the Forgotten City

The violins dragging back and forth creating the necessary tension as "Beyond The Wasteland" is recapitulated when Cloud tries to fight the entire gang to save the children. Steady techno beat continues in this fused electronica and violin track serving as one of the best ambient tracks. (9/10)

13) Violator

Heavy and rough just like "Black Water," except not as chopped up and slow. You really hear just the guitars blasting in the back, and then sirens? I would say this track is a little better than "Black Water." (5/10)

14) The Great Northern Cave (FFVII AC Version)

Okay, this is one of the better ambient tracks of this whole album. The same eerie piano, oboe, and choir combo is back from the original. It's as if you're stepping in different stairs of a haunted house or something ominous you know is going to occur. The overall effect is expressed quite well, but sounds like it came from horror game like Resident Evil or Silent Hill. (7/10)

Disc Two

01) Divinity I

This piece is similar to the "Promised Land," with its choir in the beginning, but it gets more explosive and heart-pounding when the brass section joins in. This is where the Summoned Beast appears, causing chaos at Midgar. I think Uematsu has developed his choir ensemble technique to its fullest extent with this piece and it definitely shows his talents. Later on you have the woodblocks clocking up and down. This brooding piece is nothing short of a spectacular gem. (9/10)

02) Those Who Fight (FFVII AC Version)

I think this would have been a more appropriate piece than the piano version for Tifa and Loz's fight. This is much better than the piano version because it really gets you running and up in angst. This may have been a possible theme that could have been included in the Black Mages album. The guitars hammers you and doesn't let you go. (8/10)

03) Those Who Fight Further (FFVII AC Version)

This piece is slower and more pronounced than the previous track, but has a modern feel to it. I don't listen to heavy metal too often, so I couldn't get used to it at first because it sounded extreme. For heavy metal and rock listeners, this will be a treat for you. I can't put too much of a judgment here, but you can hear the heavy percussion of the drums in the back. (7/10)

04) Divinity II

Similar as "Divinity 1, " this is where Cloud starts chasing the Summon Beast to slay it. Brass builds and then the choir joins in rhythmic melody. The strings move quickly into the background, building the necessary climax of the track. You can hear a hint of "Aerith's Theme" with the clarinet at 2:48. This is the type of track you would hear in a real movie, not in an animated movie. I was exceptionally impressed with this epic piece's harmonic beauty, it is even better than "Divinity 1" from my point of view. (10/10)

05) Encounter

This is where Kadaj chases after the Jenova cells dropped from the building. It's very short, but does the job with the brooding cellos in the background. Will he save Mother or not? It's a rather cliché theme, but effectively shows the "do or die" situation. (8/10)

06) The Chase of Highway

Good catchy theme that you'll be playing over again and again. This is where Cloud is chasing Kadaj on motorcycle. Guitar riffs put a unique rushing feel which never bores or drags. It gets more abrupt at 2:30, but retains that same rushing feel. At 3:18, you'll hear a small bit of "Turk's theme," where Reno and Rude are waiting for the motorcyclists. "Turk's Theme" was actually one of my favorite themes on the Original Soundtrack, and it's too bad it's used only once in this album. (9/10)

07) Savior

It starts out similar to "Those who Fight Further ("Final Fantasy VII Advent Children Version"), except you have a hint of hope at 1:16 when Aeris comes to Cloud's aid. Then it gets back to the repetitive theme of "The Chase of Highway" at 1:42. This is the type of track that starts slow, but ends well. You have to hear the whole track to appreciate it. (8/10)

08) J-E-N-O-V-A (FFVII AC Version)

Alright, we get to the meatier pieces of the album. This version sounds very much like the BM version of "Jenova. " This one is a little harsher, but the arpeggios run in the same fashion melody as the original soundtrack. Nearly all of the power of the original theme has been retained this version. However, it loses some of its bizarre alien feel as I said before due to the strong emphasis on heavy metal rather than balancing it with the techno beats. Still a timeless and classical track for Final Fantasy VII fans. (9/10)

09) Advent: One Winged Angel

Question: What happens when you put one of the greatest boss themes and add the proper amount of rock and metal? Answer: You get a new masterpiece that nearly rivals the original. This no-holds-barred theme will bring back the memories when you first fight Sephiroth in the game. It has the same opening as the original version, but this has more rock edge feel than the original track. You can turn the volume up on your speakers and never get bored of it. This track is worth nearly every penny you pay for this album, and hence one of the sole reasons for buying this album. The Gothic mood presses on the picture of death and destruction on this track. Then at 3:15, the guitars get jagged and the choirs get more intense. At 5:00, it moves more rapidly and the choir's chants grow sharper and more staccato-style. I don't want to forget to mention how effectively this portrays the fight between Cloud and Sephiroth in the movie. Without this track, the movie's climax would probably not have the same effect on the viewers. I thought all the possibilities with this track were over after the Black Mages soundtrack ignored it. I was dead wrong. This track is unique enough that it can stand alone on itself from the original. For people who favor rock, I think it could possibly even beat the original version. Okay I won't go that far-because others will say I committed heresy! Anyway, it's a great diamond that still reminds us of Uematsu's remarkable genius. Listen to it now! (10/10)

10) Cloud Smiles

Since when does Cloud smile? I can't recall him ever smiling anywhere in the original game or the movie. Okay, maybe I missed his half a smile when he sees the children cured from Geostigma. Questionable track name, but it's a beautiful tranquil piece with piano in the background. Then the clarinet drives the melody a little, and then the flutes join with the strings to tie together the entire track. This is the most cheerful and brightest of all the tracks on this album, you shouldn't miss out on this one. A track that shows Uematsu's power for creating a character melody hasn't dimmed one bit. (9/10)

11) End Credits

The main theme reprises for the first two minutes on one of the most famous motifs from the Original Soundtrack, when the credits start to roll up. This track puts forth the same feel as the Reunion version — the strings are perfectly situated. As I mentioned, it's all about nostalgia of old themes intertwined in various tracks. Then a marching type fanfare comes at 1:43. It sounds very similar to the beginning of "One Winged Angel. " At 2:38, you'll hear a reprisal of "Aerith's Theme, " except more majestic with the brass playing. Then you'll get back to "Main Theme" again shortly at 3:12. At 3:43, we get to the "Prelude," which is an arrangement of strings and trumpets rather than the usual harp we hear in the video games. All of them are nicely arranged. (10/10)


With this track, we finally have a male singer in video game music. This is quite a refreshing change from the solo female singers which present the same themes of love and hope. To be frank, I've gotten tired over the years of the same motif about love which gets sung again and again. This track is more about releasing oneself from their problems. In the scene, Cloud is free from his old demons and he can now go on with his life. This song has a soft rock type feel, but giving off a sense of free spiritedness. The drums in the back and guitars combining with the lyrics of the singer makes the track flow as one. It never tries to overbear with the guitars or tries to sound bombastic. It just stays as a simple rock tune for 5 minutes, a perfect piece to listen on the radio when you're on the road. (10/10)