FFVI Remix Album – Balance and Ruin Review – Disc 2

Allllllllrighty then, it’s time for the review of disc 2!  Let’s get right to it!

This time, the scale will be 1-5 Lockes, everyone’s favorite thie- erm, “Treasure Hunter”.

Track 1 – Wild Child Ballad (Gau) by bustatunez

Let me tell you something, readers of this review.  This guy, bustatunez, knows how to remix a FFVI ditty and get these discs off to a great start.

Gau’s theme has always confused me a bit, just because Gau seems so much more…  energetic?  Frantic?  Than his theme is.  Regardless, bustatunez serves up another home-run of a remix.  Beautiful use of flutes and piano. Four Lockes.


(Also, a quick grammatical note – all of the song titles and artists use the capitalization [or lack thereof] that appears on the album.  That’s why, for example, “bustatunez” is not “Bustatunez”, etc.)

Track 2 – river of sine waves (The Serpent Trench) by posu yan

A slower, gentler, jazzier take on “The Serpent Trench” that makes me feel like I’m in the best elevator ever.  A very old-school beginning leads to some nice guitar, and it stays consistent throughout.  A great, relaxing interpretation on the song, even when it picks up a bit toward the end.


Track 3 – Idle City Street (Kids Run Through the City) by Pot Hocket

Ladies and gentlemen, we have our first Five-Locke song from the second disc.  Maybe “river of sine waves” got me ready for some relaxing music, because man, I almost fell asleep during this one (in the best of ways).  The tempo was amazing, the guitar was great, and I can’t see myself giving this song anything but full marks.  It’s really great.

On that note, I’ll be back.  Naptime.


Track 4 – Courage, Failure, Rosebud (Under Martial Law) by DragonAvenger, OA

All right, I’m back from my nap.

Anyway, this song is definitely not nap-worthy.  It’s very intense.  Striking chimes collide with impressive synth work by DragonAvenger and OA to create a kaleidoscopic amalgam of old-school techno.  Good.  Stuff.


Track 5 – Bad Octopus (Save Them!, Grand Finale) by Fishy feat. XPRTNovice

I tell ya, one of my favorite parts of Final Fantasy VI is fighting Ultros.  He’s hilarious.  Up there on my “Favorite ‘Bosses’ of All Time” list.  Freakin’ octopus, what’re you doing in the opera house?

Anyway.  You guessed it:  as usual, anything that XPRTNovice is associated with is awesome.  Super fun to listen to.  Love it.  Brings me back to Ultros-fighting days, and puts its own spin on it.


Track 6 – Train Suplex (Decisive Battle) by Danny Baranowsky

I’ll be honest – I’ve been waiting for this one.  I saw it on the Track List and went wild with glee.  The comic that goes with this is hilarious:


Y’know, I don’t think there’s much to be said, here.  This song was destined for a Five-Locke rating well before I pressed “Play”.  It actually being a really fun song to listen to only made it more clear.

Sometimes, if a cover is good enough, you can judge a book by it.


Track 7 – There Will Be Blood (Metamorphosis) by Anti-Syne

I’ll say right off the bat that I’m normally not that into the sort of style that Anti-Syne employed in this song.  However, I’ll say that it was a lot of fun to listen to.  It was very fast-moving, and I liked the use of the lyrics in this one – they were simple, not over the top, and not in-your-face.  A very enjoyable listen, if you’re in the mood.


Track 8 – Terra’s Resolve (Terra) by Chad Seiter

This is another one of those songs that is really, really hard to live up to.  It’s just got so much history behind it.  When you step up to the plate to one of these songs, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

Fortunately, Chad Seiter did a great job.

It takes all the epic awesomeness of the original track, and gives it a push toward the epic.  Very, very well done.


Track 9 – A Simple Flip Can Change Fate (Coin Song) by Level 99

The original is one of my favorite songs in all of FFVI.  Like what Chad Seiter did with “Terra”, Level 99 doesn’t try to fix what ain’t broke – the acoustic guitar strumming in the background complements the style of the song well, and this was another more-than-solid performance.  I liked this one even a bit more than I did “Terra’s Resolve”.  FIVE LOCKES.


Track 10 – Electro de Choco (Techno de Chocobo) by Tepid

Anytime there’s the word “Chocobo” in a track, I get excited.  It’s up there with the battle themes in terms of memorability and epicness.

Unfortunately for remixers, that also means that expectations go up, too.  Then again, if they pull it off, it’s great.

Tepid pulled it off.  About 45 seconds in, it goes from calming electro-chill to fun, satisfying, just-energetic-enough dance techno.  A nice guitar breakdown around 2:45 is a welcome, not-over-the-top addition, and the dubbiness after that is just dubby-wubby enough to be fun and awesome.

I know there are 7 tracks to go, but damn.  This disc has done extremely well so far.  Two Five-Locke songs in a row?  I never thought I’d see the day…


Track 11 – Reverie of the Broken Phoenix (Forever Rachel) by McVaffe

Nobuo Uematsu is a legend.  His work on Final Fantasy VI is amazing.  Personally, I would say that it is, in terms of video game scores, second only to FFIX.  To be able to take one of his songs and make it your own is a very difficult task, and would be impossible for most

These OCRemix guys are good.  Like, really, really good.

McVaffe keeps the train rollin’ with another memorable remix of another memorable track.  I really am amazed.


Track 12 – Slam Davis (Slam Shuffle) by Mazedude

Mazedude did a good job creating a creepy atmosphere for a creepy song.  Very ghostly, very ethereal, very dark.  Halfway through, it went into a little breakdown, then goes back to the creepy beats with renewed vigor.

I wasn’t the biggest fan of this song, but I think that’s just because I wasn’t feeling the “creepy” vibe when I listened, as opposed to there being anything wrong with the song itself.


Track 13 – Fiddlesticks Rag (Spinach Rag) by diotrans

What a fantastic song.  The remix, with all the stringed melodic deliciousness, was great.  No complaints.  It’s very bouncy and fun, and reminds me of something that would be in a 1920’s silent comedy.


Track 14 – The Nightmare Oath (Overture) by OA, Moonlapse, BardicKnowledge, Laura Intravia feat. DragonAvenger

The first pretty “meh” track on the disc.  Don’t get me wrong – the music was totally badass.  It reminds me of some of the more epic tracks of Nightwish or Within Temptation’s stuff.

My problem was twofold.  One, the vocalist, while much, much better than I am, didn’t sound ready to handle the epicness of the song.  You need to be an extremely talented and powerful singer (like the singer from Within Temptation, for example) to live up to that sort of epic, and I just don’t think he was ready.  Two, where did these lyrics come from?  They’re not from the game…  did someone just come up with them on a whim?  See my review from Disc 1 for “Tastes Like Victory”, and you’ll see my opinion on such lyrics.

The power of the music alone nets this song two Lockes.


Track 15 – The Impresario (Opera Sequence) by Jake Kaufman, Tommy Pedrini

Ugh.  Okay, I’m calling it right now – if there’s one song to skip over this entire five-disc album, it’s this one.  I simply can’t think of a way that I could be more disappointed by a remix of the Opera.

I didn’t like the lyrics at all.  It sounds like a twelve-year-old was trying to sound like a badass (“I’ll kill them” is said about twelve times in a row over the course of thirty seconds.  “Gonna”, “wanna”, and other unprofessional words are used all over the place.  I’m not opposed to the use of these words normally, but seriously?  This is an opera.  The Opera Sequence from Final Fantasy VI.  Make it sound a little bit epic).  The vocals sounded like a mixture of Weird Al and Backstreet Boys melodies (for the record, I love both Weird Al and BSB…  again, just not when someone’s trying to remix the FFVI Opera).

The music itself sounded good.  Very similar to the music of the “Overture” above, which would make sense.  But here’s a tip:  The songs that have come before that have had lyrics, I’ve given them a chance, because at least they’re trying to add something.  The guys that remixed this song already had lyrics, and they removed them and replaced them with lyrics of their own.  Like, what?  No.  When you remove the lyrics of a song and provide your own, it becomes a different song.  Plus, the vocalists were definitely not opera singers.  I guess this was more of a rock-opera deal, but meh.

One-Quarter of One Locke, and that’s being generous.  It’s a Pity-Locke, mostly.  Such potential, and it fell flat on its face (in my opinion).  I’m very, very disappointed.

I have edited this, since it was definitely more insulting before, and I definitely don’t mean to insult anyone.  There are definitely people out there who love this track;  I’m just not one of them.


Track 16 – Till We Meet Again (Aria de Mezzo Carattere) by zircon, Jillian Aversa, AeroZ

Word.  Okay, this was a little bit better.  The lyrics weren’t exactly the same, but it was definitely in the same vein, which was good.  The music and vocals were both beautiful. It was by no means anything great, but it was definitely passable.


Track 17 – Full Speed Ahead (Setzer) by zircon

Ahhhh, nothin’ like some drum n’ bass to refresh a weary, cynical soul.  This got the end of this disc out of the funk that their failed Opera experiment caused, and left me with a pretty good feeling.  It was fun, it was fast, and I loved it.



Whew.  Well, before the three Opera tracks happened, I thought this disc had a very good chance of getting a full Five-Locke rating.  It really is that good.  Disc 1 still has my favorite track of all in “Ascension of a Madman”, but this disc, on the whole, was consistently better.  Since it’s only three tracks on this disc that really bug me, I’ll give this disc two “Overall” ratings:

If you don’t listen to Tracks 14, 15, and 16:


If you do:


FFVI Remix Album – Balance and Ruin Review – Disc 1

In case you didn’t know, in addition to Final Fantasy IX, I’m also a huge fan of Final Fantasy VI.  In case you haven’t heard, OCRemix came out with a free-to-download remix album of Final Fantasy VI.  Comprised of five discs, It’s been in the works for months, and after a lot of Kickstarter drama, it was finally released yesterday.  I’ve been keeping my eye on this project, and now that it’s been released, I’m going to do a disc-by-disc, track-by-track review of the whole thing (don’t worry, Let’s Play fans – this won’t delay the editing process, and we are still on schedule to have the first episode released this weekend!).

I put them in the order of track number, followed by the title of the remixed song, the title of the original (in parentheses), and the artist’s name.  I’ve rated each song on a scale from one to five Kefkas.

Track 1 – Prologue (Opening Theme) by bustatunez

At the risk of every FFVI fan stopping reading right now, I have a confession to make:  I’ve never really liked the first half of the opening to FFVI – it’s too scary for me.  Too foreboding.  I mean, it’s a very intense game, but I feel like I’m about to start a Silent Hill or something.  That said, bustatunez did a great job;  it sounds amazing, especially when the music transitions about halfway through the song from the creepy-ish music to the more welcoming, epic, Final Fantasy-like introduction that I know and love.

Track 2 – Now is the Winter (The Mines of Narshe) by Mustin

This track reminds me of a mixture of Cowboy Bebop-esque jazz.  I’m a sucker for anything with a saxophone, so naturally, this track was for me.  This definitely had a different tone than the original version – the original version is much more…  Sullen.  This one’s more upbeat.  Definitely doesn’t carry the same message, but still great.  I love it.

Track 3 – Remember (Awakening) by Joshua Morse

Let me start by saying that this song deifnitely has a different tone than the original.

Y’know those softcore porno flicks that show up on HBO at ridiculous hours of the morning?  If not, let me describe them to you, as 15-year-old Casey (who had just gotten HBO) remembers them vividly:  they’re filled with terrible actors, terrible dialogue, terrible scene transitions, no character development, and some of the most over-the-top music during the sexy scenes that you will ever encounter.

Let me tell you that this track reminds me of those scenes.  It would totally fit.

Let me also tell you that I think that’s great.

It’s soft.  It’s soothing.  It’s lilting.  It brings me back to  younger, less complicated days.  Takes me away from the here and now and brings me to a totally foreign, yet welcoming, place.  That’s exactly what music is about for me, and this song does it perfectly.  Well done.

Track 4 – Smoke and Clouds (Locke) by Jeff Ball ft. Laura Intravia

WHOA.  Okay.  As soon as this song starts, you know it’s going in a different direction than the album has gone so far.  Lots of syncopated tones, melting into techno-y drum-and-bass-type stuff.  Jeff Ball’s really goin’ for it on this one.

One thing I don’t understand is the dipping tones, the slowing down of the music towards the end of certain measures.  It kinda makes my brain dizzy but AWWW SHIT!  It gets pretty awesome real quick.  Drum-and-Bass-and-chanting-woman-voice at its best.  There was some nice violin in there, and this track wound up being pretty sweet.  I wasn’t sure about it at first, but the second half made up for a less-than-stellar first half.

Track 5 – Polemos (Battle Theme) by SnappleMan, norg, Captain Finbeard

Final Fantasy has been known for its battle themes since…  well, since I can remember, at least.  It’s always been a trademark in the series for me.  That said, this track needed to blow me out of the water to live up to expectations.

It didn’t blow me out of the water.

That’s not to say it wasn’t good – it was definitely good.  I just think it’s really hard to remix something like a FF battle theme and not have people compare it to the original.  Indeed, that’s half the fun of a remix album – you can listen to your favorite tracks and see how the remixed versions stack up.  It was a challenge from the start.  Add that to the fact that my metal days are years behind me and I’m not much a fan of 10-minute-jam-sessions (which is what this sounded like to me), and I was bound to be a little disappointed.  Looks like these guys have some more tracks coming up, though, so we’ll see how they do then.

Track 6 – Tastes Like Victory (Fanfare) by Leitbur

…  “Tastes Like Victory”?  Really?  Guess so.  Well, whatever.

Anyway, again, this track wasn’t bad – I think it’s just my adherence to the original, amazing, perfect “Fanfare” that probably gives me a bit of aversion to this one.  That, and I do think the voices/lyrics were over the top.  I really enjoyed the music itself, actually.  It was beautiful.  Take out the voice track, and I think this song’s stock goes up significantly.  Two Kefkas.

Track 7 – Castles in the Sand (Edgar & Sabin) by Nutritious

I enjoyed this.  It kept the epic regality of Edgar intact (uh…  if he ever had this.  The epic regality he liked to pretend he had, at least).  This, I think, was a great example of not trying to do too much, which I think is important when you’re remixing.  Actually, I think there are two ways of going about it – you can either simply enhance the already-existing sound and make it your own, or you can go in a completely different direction;  this followed the philosophy of the former.

Then again, I’m in no way musically inclined, so maybe that doesn’t make any sense.  Just goin’ by what I hear, what I’ve experienced, and that one Classical Music class I took in college.  3.5 Kefkas.

Track 8 – Ascension of a Madman (Kefka) by Steffan Andrews

There are some tracks up to this point that I’ve really enjoyed.  Some that I’ve thought were really, really good.

This track…  Was FUCKING.  AWESOME.

Brilliant.  Captures Kefka’s madness perfectly.  At a minute-thirty in, it really starts rockin’ and rollin’, and it doesn’t stop until the end.  Amazing.  Don’t read what I have to say about it any more – just go listen to it.  It’s that good.  Worth the download just for this track (although others are great, too).  This is the first track on the album to receive the coveted FIVE KEFKAS.

Y’know what?  I’ll give it six.  It’s that good.  Get over it.

Track 9 – La Montaña de los Caballos Jóvenes (Mt. Koltz) by XPRTNovice

Ooh, I loved this one.  Great guitar, great breakdown around 3-4 minutes in, building it back up to a rampant, festive finish at the end.  A nice stylization of this song, overall.  Still reeling from Ascension of a Madman, though.  Have you listened to it yet?  It’s pretty good, from what I hear.

Track 10 – On the Run (The Returners) by Leitbur

Another very solid musical offering by Leitbur.  It really does sound great, and I think the vocals in this one are much better used than they were in “Tastes Like Victory” (I still can’t get over that name).

However, this track has one fatal flaw…

I can’t see any relation to the original FFVI track.  At all.

Maybe I’m just deaf, but it sounds completely different, to the point where I had to look up the original just to make sure I had the title right.

Overall, was this a better song than “Tastes Like Victory”?  Yes.  However, this is a FFVI remix album, and I want to hear FFVI remixes.  I’ll give it an extra half-Kefka, just because I really did enjoy the song as a musical piece.

Eh, maybe just a quarter-Kefka.

Track 11 – A Fistful of Nickels (Shadow) by zircon, XPRTNovice, Jillian Aversa, Jeff Ball

I loved pretty much everything about this track.  The old-west feel, the whistling…  A great example of completely changing the theme of the music while keeping the soul intact.  This also reminds me that I need to watch more Clint Eastwood westerns.

Track 12 – Camp Kefka (Troops March On) by Joshua Morse

An interesting take on “Troops March On”.  The heartbeats at the beginning were a great stage-setter for the heaviness that came in later, and I think that the dubby-wubbyness towards the end added a bit of character to the track.  I’m not a fan of dubstep, but when its stylings are used with prudence and care, it can sound great.  This track was a success.

I still liked Joshua’s first offering (Awakening) better, but that’s only because of my penchant for HBO-softcore music, as I mentioned above.

Track 13 – Stone Drum (Cyan) by Radiowar

Great music in this track.  Very listenable. I love the heavy, marching beat.  I didn’t much enjoy the samples that were put into the middle of the song – they sounded random, didn’t flow, and didn’t jive with my perceived theme of the song.  Overall, good enough for an average rating of two-and-a-half Kefkas.

Track 14 – Toxic (The Unforgiven) by Beatdrop

This is the sort of “classic techno” I grew up listening to.  It reminds me a lot of the Mortal Kombat theme that I used to dance to in Dance Dance Revolution.

Anyway, I’m glad to see this sort of genre represented by this song.  It was great fun to listen to.  It’s different from the original, but at least I can see where this one is coming from.  A worthwhile interpretation.

Track 15 – De Nuit (The Phantom Forest) by mv feat. Jeff Ball

Another great, techno-y interpretation.  the xylophonic notes in the background are a great addition to the nicely layered strings and a drum line that doesn’t try to do too much.  FOUR WHOLE KEFKAS.

Track 16 – Gobble, Snarf, Snap (Phantom Train) by XPRTNovice

Nice whistling at the beginning, much like “Fistful of Nickels”.  I like how it slowly builds in intensity and eventually turns very ghostly, almost surreal with about a minute to go.  I feel like I’m in a creepy, ghostly version of a 1920’s nightclub when I listen to this.  Another impressive offering by XPRTNovice.

Track 17 – Savage Triumph (Wild West) by Flexstyle, OA, Nutritious

Wow.  These guys pulled out all the stops on this track.  It was fast, furious, and full of techno-dub-goodness.  It did a great job of retaining its roots while simultaneously branching out, making bold moves and doing well at every turn.  I’d say that this was the second-best track on the album, and a very strong end to the first disc.


I’ve been following this project for a while, and I was really hoping that it would come out well.  OCRemix has been doin’ their thing for quite some time now, and they have a thriving community of very talented artists.  These artists took on a huge challenge, and I definitely think they did quite well.  It’s an uphill battle when you’re trying to cover Final Fantasy songs, since Uematsu is, in my opinion (again, I’ve only taken one semester of Classical Music), one of the greatest composers of the past century, if not ever.  Those are mighty big shoes to fill, and I think the OCRemix crew did a more-than-admirable job.  I can’t wait to review the next disc!