Kingslave: Final Fantasy XV OST Review
Review by Neil Mc Allister
Composer: Yoko Shimomura
As an absolute icon for video game music (Megaman, Street Fighter, and Kingdom Hearts to name a few games she’s worked on), Yoko Shimomura lends her legendary talents to movie scoring in the recently released CGI movie, Final Fantasy: Kingsglaive. The score has an interesting mix of textbook scoring for a traditional action movie, but not without some of her trademark features.
The opening prologue music demonstrates some of her wonderfully gentle piano playing, with slow and steady restraint. The flowing female vocals and warm strings pieces gradually evolve into a far more grand and ominous atmosphere with the addition of the timpani and brass section. It also incorporates some use of the Phrygian mode and modulation towards the end.
Played during the following battle sequence, “Under Siege” sounds fit for a Superhero movie. Having a mixture of sub-bass, timpani and steady string ostinato; it quickly evolves with a triumphant melody from the brass section, making even the tubas sound imposing. “Diamond Weapon” continues the trend, albeit with higher-register violins, shrieking to increase the intensity. A sense of dread rather than triumph is felt here, but not before a male choir enters to add an element of hope. “To The Rescue” has some Hans Zimmer-esque features, notably the massive single note tuba blows and thundering percussion. It eventually settles into a more sombre atmosphere with little more else than the string section.
The movie takes one odd turn during a street slums scene with “Calling for Rain” which is an Indian pop dance tune, of all things. Having a totally different instrumentation and male lead vocals, it’s nonetheless welcome for it’s upbeat nature, moments of which are rarely heard or seen in both the soundtrack and OST itself. At the very least it demonstrates how versatile Shimomura can be when she needs to be. “Luna” (named after the female protagonist of this movie) heavily revolves itself around a descending arpeggio on the upper register of the piano, the clarinet, and the string section. It eventually becomes in more grand with all the instrument playing together with the addition of the harp and flute.
“Somnus’” is remarkably uncanny of Shimomura’s composing style for Kingdom Hearts. Starting with a lonely piano chord progression, a mournful violin plays a melody with heavy amounts of vibrato. A second lower register violin enters, before the whole string sections join to “light up” via the ascending piano arpeggio that is a signature of the Kingdom Hearts sound. The piano becomes far more loose and energised in it’s playing before settling down once again. I would go to say this probably the best piece, playing to most of Shimomura’s strengths.
Those are some of the main highlights of the OST as a whole, a solid accompanying score for a grand epic movie that Kingsglaive itself at least attempts to be, but it usually shines when Shimomura plays to her strength as if she was composing for a Final Fantasy game rather than a movie.
Written by Neil Mc Allister
Neil is a Graduate of BIMM Dublin and Griffith College where he studied music and sound design. He is also a freelance composer and musician.