The Black Mages are an instrumental rock band formed by Nobuo Uematsu, composer for various video games in the Final Fantasy series. The band arranges Uematsu's musical compositions in a rock or heavy metal style.
The band has released three studio albums, the first containing a selection of the battle themes throughout the series. It was released eponymously as The Black Mages in 2003. The second album, The Skies Above, was released in 2004 and features a wider array of pieces. The third album, Darkness and Starlight, was released in 2008. The Black Mages have appeared on several other video game-related (mostly Final Fantasy) albums.
Live performances are rare, with only two concerts that celebrated album releases. The first—"The Black Mages LIVE"—was held in Shibuya and later released on DVD exclusively to fanclub members. A second concert—"LIVE above the sky"—was held in Kawasaki City and similarly released on DVD to fanclub members. However, The Black Mages have made appearances in various Final Fantasy-related concerts, such as VOICES: Music from Final Fantasy and More Friends.
In 2000, Square Enix employees Kenichiro Fukui and Tsuyoshi Sekito formed an experimental partnership to compose for the All Star Pro-Wrestling video game in a rock music style. After the video game's success, the two continued to compose in the same style. In 2002, Fukui and Sekito decided to arrange some of Nobuo Uematsu's compositions. Uematsu, a fan of rock music, enjoyed the rock arrangements. Regretting that the public would not be able to appreciate the duo's talents, he decided to form The Black Mages.
In 2003, Kenichiro Fukui and Tsuyoshi Sekito arranged, interpreted and sequenced 10 combat themes from various Final Fantasy video games, with Nobuo Uematsu as producer. An album containing these tracks was released eponymously on February 19, 2003. After being met with success, Uematsu decided to organize a concert in tribute to the album. Fukui chose to play keyboards, while Sekito chose to play guitar. Because this was not enough to perform the arrangements, several members from Square Enix joined. Keiji Kawamori joined to play bass guitar, Michio Okamiya to play guitar, and Arata Hanyuda to play drums. With persuasion from the group, Nobuo Uematsu began playing keyboards. The Black Mages performed on April 26, 2003 at Shibuya-AX in Tokyo. This was followed by a 30-minute performance at the Kanagawa University festival on November 3.
At the beginning of 2004, Nobuo Uematsu announced the prospection of a second album. On April 21, an arrangement album for the Dark Cloud 2 video game titled Dark Chronicle Premium Arrange was released. It features the first full appearance of The Black Mages on a studio album, who were asked by TEAM Entertainment (the publisher) to arrange and interpret "Flame Demon Monster Gaspard." This performance hightened anticipation for the second album, and in July, Uematsu announced that the album was in the recording stages. On December 22, 2004, The Black Mages II: The Skies Above was released. The Skies Above features a wider array of pieces by not focusing on battle themes, unlike the first. In 2005, the album was the subject of a concert on January 22, January 23 in Kanagawa and January 28 in Osaka.
On March 19, 2008, The Black Mages III: Darkness and Starlight was released.
|February 19, 2003||The Black Mages||During an interview, The Black Mages stated this album utilized sequenced drum tracks. This was not repeated in the following album.|
|December 22, 2004||The Black Mages II: The Skies Above||Their first album to feature vocalists, "Otherworld" is performed by Kazco Hamano and "The Skies Above" by Mr. Goo in a quasi-operatic style reminiscent of power metal.|
|March 19, 2008||The Black Mages III: Darkness and Starlight||Arguably their most eclectic album. It contains tracks that cover a variety of genres, from progressive metal, such as "Neo EXDEATH" to orchestral arrangements, such as "Distant Worlds".|
|2003||"THE BLACK MAGES" LIVE||A promotional DVD given to Nobuo Uematsu fan-club members. Recorded in Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, Japan.|
|2006||LIVE "above the sky"||A promotional DVD given to Nobuo Uematsu fan-club members. Recorded in Kawasaki City, Japan.|
|April 21, 2004||Dark Chronicle Premium Arrange||"Flame Demon Monster Gaspard"|
|September 28, 2005||Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children OST||The Black Mages, together with orchestration conducted by Koji Haijima, performed "Advent: One-Winged Angel" arranged by Shiro Hamaguchi.|
|September 20, 2006||Final Fantasy III: Original Soundtrack||"Last Battle -THE BLACK MAGES Ver.-|
The Black Mages have participated in several concert events.
This overnight concert introduced the song "Matoya's Cave" (which would feature in their next album) and included additional solos not seen in their first album. During the introduction of band members, Michio Okamiya performed a rendition of the Chocobo Theme and Nobuo Uematsu performed the intro to Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water."
This free concert was part of the Kanagawa Jindai Festa. Because Nobuo Uematsu graduated from the University they were performing in, The Black Mages all wore the student uniform colors (white shirt, black pants).
These concerts featured Kenji Ito who performed piano renditions of SaGa Series songs. Also featured were muZik, a group who performed seven Techno and Pop-style Final Fantasy arrangements.
This was The Black Mages' first appearance in North America, and thus far only performance outside of Japan. "Advent: One-Winged Angel" was performed with orchestral accompaniment. A synchronization conflict between drummer Arata Hanyuda and composer Arnie Roth forced Uematsu to cease the performance of the song entirely, leave to the backstage alone, and remedy the issue personally before returning. The result was a rendition of Advent: One-Winged Angel that is dissimilar to that which appears on the film's OST.
The Black Mages performed "Advent: One-Winged Angel" along with the Prima Vista Philharmonic Orchestra. The song was played twice, the second time as an encore.
|Battle Theme - Boss Theme - Chocobo's Theme - Dungeon - Final Boss Theme - Opening Theme - Prelude - Town Theme - Victory Fanfare|
|Final Fantasy I & II - Final Fantasy III - Final Fantasy IV - Final Fantasy V - Final Fantasy VI - Final Fantasy VII - Final Fantasy VIII - Final Fantasy IX - Final Fantasy X - Final Fantasy X-2 - Final Fantasy XI - Final Fantasy XII - Final Fantasy XIII - Advent Children - Last Order & Before Crisis - Dirge of Cerberus - Crisis Core - Final Fantasy Tactics - Final Fantasy Tactics Advance - Final Fantasy Tactics A2 - Crystal Chronicles - Ring of Fates - My Life as a King & My Life as a Darklord - The Spirits Within - Mystic Quest - Dissidia|
|"Eyes on Me" - "Melodies of Life" - "Suteki da ne" - "Real Emotion" - "1000 Words" - "Distant Worlds" - "Kiss Me Good-Bye" - "Kimi ga Iru Kara" - "My Hands - "Moonless Starry Night" - "Starry Moonlit Night" - "Calling" - "Longing" - "Redemption" - "Why" - "The Messenger"|
|"Main Theme" (Final Fantasy) - "Main Theme" (Final Fantasy II) - "Eternal Wind" - Final Fantasy IV Main Theme - "Main Theme of Final Fantasy V" - "Terra" - Main Theme of Final Fantasy VII - "Theme of CRISIS CORE" - "Blue Fields" - "Over the Hills" - "Zanarkand" - "Eternity: Memory of Lightwaves" - "Vana'diel March" - " Opening Movie" - "Somnus" - "Hero's Theme" - "Main Theme" (Final Fantasy Tactics Advance) - "Summer Vacation" - "Sound of the Wind" - "The Messenger"|
|"Kurayaminokumo" - "Battle with Golbez's Four Emperors" - "Zeromus" - "Clash on the Big Bridge" - "Neo Exdeath" - "Decisive Battle" - "The Fierce Battle" - "Dancing Mad" - "Those Who Fight" - "Those Who Fight Further" - "J-E-N-O-V-A" - "Jenova Absolute" - "Birth of a God" - "One-Winged Angel" - "Longing" - "SOLDIER Battle" - "Force Your Way" - "The Man with the Machine Gun" - "Maybe I'm a Lion" - "The Extreme" - "Hunter's Chance" - "Dark Messenger" - "Grand Cross" - "Otherworld" - "Decisive Battle" - "The Battle for Freedom" - "The Pervert" - "Altima, the Perfect Body" - "Surpassing the Wall" - "Incarnation" - "Cosmos" - "Chaos"|
|Angela Aki - Ayaka - Bill Muir - Emiko Shiratori - Faye Wong - Gackt - Izumi Masuda - Kazco Hamano - Koda Kumi - Leona Lewis - Máire Breatnach - Megumi Ida - Risa Ohki - RIKKI - Sayuri Sugawara - Svetla Krasteva - Takeharu Ishimoto - Tomoaki Watanabe - Your Favorite Enemies|
|The Black Mages: Tsuyoshi Sekito - Kenichiro Fukui - Michio Okamiya - Arata Hanyuda - Keiji Kawamori|
|Masashi Hamauzu - Masaharu Iwata - Junya Nakano - Shiro Sagisu - Hitoshi Sakimoto - Yoko Shimomura - Kumi Tanioka - Nobuo Uematsu|