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Nobuo Uematsu & Shiro Hamaguchi – “Final Fantasy VIII Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec” Review

One of the biggest orchestrated albums of all time
Shiro Hamaguchi
Shiro Hamaguchi

“Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec”, the opening words to Final Fantasy VIII, is the title for this release, which is a completely orchestrated album of tracks from Final Fantasy VIII. The originals are written by Nobuo Uematsu and the orchestrations are made by Shiro Hamaguchi.

The opener of the soundtrack, “Liberi Fatali”, is the absolutely awe-inspiring song from the opening FMV of the game. The sheer power has to be heard to be believed and if I said it could be in contention for the best song Nobuo has ever written, you’ll know I mean business. From the stomping strings, to the powerful choir, this swims in power that will be music to your ears. “Blue Fields” is the overworld theme and is nicely constructed, with a deep calm from within around it. A pretty song in itself, its given a little more complexity to it with extra instruments added to give more effect. It always makes me smile because it’s string picking sounds like cute bubbles bursting.

“Don’t Be Afraid” is Squall’s battle music. With the drums pounding away giving the beat some much-needed power, the strings and brass instruments work very well together and play the tune with more urgency than in the game, with an extra middle piece added to make it an all round song. The only possible criticism with this song is that the music doesn’t feel whole. If the strings were a little less streamlined in the speakers, there’d be more sense of power here. “Balamb Garden – Ami” is a beautiful rendition of the piano song. From the little plinks of finger cymbals to the sweeping string arrangements, the beauty of “Ami” is captured and made almost cutesy! This is a very enjoyable piece indeed and the first song to be transformed by the orchestration. “Fisherman’s Horizon” starts off with a little vocal arrangement of the theme before doing a beautiful rendition of the song. Again it gives a cutesy feel to it, as it slowly slides its away though, changing instruments for the main tune throughout and when the choir join back in it sounds absolutely fantastic.

The title track, “Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec”, returns to the absolute power an orchestra can give. The result is huge bass filled drums, powerful string arrangements and hard brass sounds. All this and a chanting choir too! To make this sound different from the OST version, things have been moved around, and extra out of tune piano pieces have been used to create a state of urgency to great effect. The final part of the song is given an extra vocal piece, with a woman doing a Bulgarian chant with sounds completely out of tune and I’m still not sure if it works yet, after many listens, but it is growing on me over the years.

Next up is “Eyes On Me” but not the orchestrated version, which surprised me. This song is available on the OST and on the single, so why is it here also? A lovely song it still is though, and I suppose it was allowed in as it has a string accompaniment. After that is the superb rendition of “The Man With The Machine Gun”. The opening of the song is mesmerising. The build up of instruments and layers of chords is awe-inspiring. The main tune in between these build ups is just as fraught and exhilarating. You can’t help but get lost is this song. When the big cymbal crashes at the beginning, if you’re not excited, you must be dead. “Dance With The Balamb Fish” is the waltz that Rinoa and Squall dance to in the fantastic FMV sequence. The song doesn’t differ all that much from the OST version until the superb ending, but the strings do a lovely job of keeping the beat, and you’ll find yourself wanting to relive that dance again and again. “Love Grows” is basically an orchestrated version of “Eyes On Me”. That’s not to devalue it though, as it is a lovely, warm song full with love. While it’s not quiet and beautiful as “Ami”, it is still beautiful indeed. The only criticism here is the overuse on the piano, which spends its time flowing up and down the chords, which is nice, but at some times it just doesn’t fit the song. The grandstand final chorus is definitely the defining moment of this song.

Nobuo Uematsu
Nobuo Uematsu

“The Oath” has one of the biggest climaxes in the album. It quietly sways through the melodies with high pitches strings but gradually shows its power with more instruments and percussion added before its stunning climax. It is one of the highlights of the album. Apart from that though, this song is a little lost in the middle, but the wait is definitely worth it. “Ending Theme” is a lengthy piece that starts off very mysterious. It really does feel like a creepy horror movie! After two minutes though, the piano starts off the orchestrated version of “Eye On Me”. To have the song on the one CD twice is a little bit of cheating, but since they are completely different, and the standard here is so high, it can be let by with only a minor irritation. The orchestrated version is much more softer but dramatic at the same time. Then, a lovely orchestrated version of Final Fantasy effectively blends into the end of the song, which is very dramatic and grand indeed and played extremely well. Now ten minutes into this song, we are treated to a more military version of “Liberi Fatali” which is very different from its original theme, but still fantastic to listen to, which blends into the Crystal Theme (prelude) that had been missing from this OST before a lovely climactic finish after 13 minutes of magnificent music. The closing track is “Fragments Of Memories” which is given the string treatment that makes it a very sombre song, almost like a goodbye song from the album. It rounds off the album perfectly.

“Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec” is a magnificent album that anyone should purchase if they are a fan of the game, orchestrated music or even strong tunes. You’ll love and feel every note played and that’s something you don’t get everyday.

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