Song the Week is back, which means that I myself am back. Truthfully, it's about time posting started up again at RPS; I've missed posting at least once or twice a week. After a two month break, it's time I start writing again. I may have been away from my reviews, but I've been looking into OCR more than ever now. My undeniable love for music has never stopped (thank goodness). Alright, this song is actually one that I chose myself. It's title: 'Mark of the Beatsmith'. It's a pretty epic title. We got ourselves another Final Fantasy VII mix again! It's featured on the album 'Final Fantasy VII: Voices of the Lifestream'. Oh, and the remixer for this track is Tyler Carson (a.k.a. Hy Bound). Anyway, I'm glad to be back, so now let's get to the details...
The first couple seconds start out with the piano lightly playing. A very light cymbal hit can be heard as well, playing on the downbeat of each measure. At 0:09 and maybe a second before that there's a small buildup which mainly includes some bass drum. Starting at 0:10 the strings come in, as well as a hint of choir, to really set the atmospheric mood that will be continuously heard throughout the song. It merely plays stretched chords every other measure, but the section is drawn out to sound very calm and angelic. At about 0:25 is when the strings/choir change a little bit in volume by gradually getting louder; the entire song, in fact, builds up into what is now currently being heard. The choir drops here, and the strings are now what keep this calm mood flowing. There's a minor buildup at 0:38, but when the song reaches 0:41 a beat starts to play. The strings speed up too, for instead of playing every other measure they now play on the first beat of all measures. At 0:56 the current melody from the strings plays in almost perfect unison. It's great that about three octaves of strings are being used for this. This pattern will continue for about ten more seconds until the sound gets sucked away and a buildup occurs at 1:11. After the buildup a new section starts playing. Even though the basic rhythms are the same, the beat changes and becomes a little more fast-paced. Because of that, the section is therefore different than what was heard previously. This section actually continues for quite some time, although the melody never weakens or gets too repetitive. The higher octaves as the section continues will create a harmony for the lower melody. The percussion here is pretty solid also; it hits hard on every other beat while keeping the song going. The changes that occur after the section start at 1:42. There's a short buildup, but the real action happens when the chimes bust out a solid, five-note introduction at 1:44. The strings run up the scale, and then burst forth into an explosion of sound. The melody during this section is now controlled by the piano, which really does stand out amongst the percussion and string sections. This is awesome stuff right here, plus the strings aren't there to just create more atmosphere (it's playing a rhythm of its own). Every part of this piece, primarily the major three (strings, piano, and percussion), are all doing something different. At 2:00, the song continues, but the melody gets played by a new instrument. It's probably some sort of string instrument, although I can't really tell since the sound of it is so unique. At about 2:15 the strings exit and take a break for a while, while the string melody continues to do its thing. There are many short buildups here, and what's cool is that the sound is completely sucked out after each one. The percussion, after a short break as well, plays its previous beat again at 2:27. There's a ton of cymbal action here as well. The chimes will come in again to transition the song into a new section at 2:33. This section mainly consists of the cymbal crashing from before, the percussive beat that constantly is driving, and the strings slowing making an entrance (starting at 2:37). There's also some pretty cool synths used here before the strings come in. The string melody will come in again at 2:41 while the strings/synth will continuously build up, suddenly stop, and repeat the process. At 2:48 there's a pretty sweet bass drum solo for a couple seconds. After this solo, the sounds of everything in the song start to become distorted and even cut out in the middle of the rhythm. That was done on purpose though, and it actually sound pretty cool. At 2:58 everything starts to calm back down again, and the strings will play their angelic notes. At 3:05 the piano will start to play a little rhythm as well. Note the very quiet pattern of notes heard in the background, for it's foreshadowing what could possibly be the next main melody. It, and also the piano, will go away at about 3:08, so listen carefully for it. The next ten seconds are very string-focused. At 3:20 the piano will jump in to play a little ditty within all the atmosphere. Some bass will start to develop into a single note beat at about 3:31, and a high octave of strings are going to start playing with the lower strings at 3:38. This will continue to play, with the piano coming in occasionally (especially at 4:02). At 4:10 the bass and the strings start to play twice as fast. The melody that was played silently at around 3:02 will play again, this time a little louder. The beat picks up, and the volume increases. At 4:25, everything gets chopped up, and the new section begins. So basically, the last fifteen seconds were one massive and awesome buildup. The melody foreshadowed now starts to be played by everything except for the higher strings that play a counter-melody. This section has the amount of pure intensity equivalent to the section at 1:44. Awesome. The chimes will even play a part as well by hitting an F every four measures. Did I mention that there's choir here too? Yeah, they come in at about 4:37. At about 4:56, after a lot of the same stuff heard, the sound gets completely sucked up and then spat out again at 5:00. The only real change here is the uniting of the high and low strings to play the counter-melody. Plus, the bass is emphasized much more. At 5:28 there's an awesome drum solo, which then completely changes the melody back to what it was at 1:44. It took less than a second to change, yet in the end it turned out great. It's almost like the section at 1:44, except with more cymbal crashes and less strings. The string instrument from before will take over the melody again at 5:50, although this time the piano will join with it simultaneously. At 6:04 another section similar to 2:00 is played again, except the percussion will join in shortly at 6:10. At 6:15 there's quite a large ritardando which slows down the song immensely. I remember that the first time I listened to this, my fingers were tapping on my desk but then messed up the beat during this section. Even the chimes come in at 6:20 and play that rhythm at an incredibly slow pace. After that's played though, the song speeds up slightly (although it's no where near as fast as it was back a minute ago). This entire section has every sound being sucked up constantly, while the string melody (which does have a lower octave of the same sound play with it now) continues to endure the slow tempo. It's not until 6:51 when the section changes again. The percussion now drops, creating that atmospheric feeling back in the beginning of the song. At 6:57 the piano comes in to play one last little tune (which is actually one of the themes from the game, I believe), and the strings will play in the background. Starting at 7:07 there's some sort of buildup that gets louder and louder. I wish I could describe it, but it's a pretty strange sound. It almost sounds like applause. Then, just when everything's built up again, a hit from the chimes will ring, getting cut off repeatedly even, until the song comes to a close.
Pros: The percussion was strong all the way through (when it was playing though). The atmosphere was just wonderful, and I'm glad that the strings had such a great harmony with the rest of the song. The piano would always appear at the right times. I just love the buildup from 4:10 to 4:25. It was completely epic during the best two sections: the sections at 1:44 and 4:25. This is one cool song, and listening to it is worth all 7 minutes and 20 seconds.
Cons: Cons...um...there hardly is any to be found. The only con I could think of is something based off of my own opinion, which is that string instrument that will occasionally come in to play the melody. It's not that it was bad, but the sound of it sort of bothered me. The repetitiveness wasn't much of a problem though, although sometimes it took a little too long to transition into something else.
Overall: Hy Bound did a great job in making repetitiveness sound good. The melody is catchy, cool, and something enjoyable to listen to. I loved the amount of piano used, even if it was used merely to chime in during certain parts. Speaking of chimes, those were pretty awesome as well. This song is overall epic in a ton of ways. Oh, and I forgot to mention this: I've only had this song for a couple days, and yet as you can see I like this song already. This song is highly recommended. I love it, I love it, I love it!