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OceansAndrew

*NO* Final Fantasy 4 'Genesis of Destruction'

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SUBBED ON BEHALF OF JAY:

Alright...where to start. This track, Zeromus, was originally conceived by me and OA as the finale track to the FF4 project Echoes of Betrayal, Light of Redemption. And later blew up to be something well beyond either of our control. It is a result of all the people around us in the project and actually came together rather haphazard. We never could have imagined a track like this from the start. We started only knowing we wanted it to be faster and more intense than the original and were already planning on having Justin (Nutritious) come in for the orchestra. I originally had the idea of just a bombastic instrumental but when Andrew (OA) started talking about using vocals is when it took off.

We first had the idea for just a female vocalist and came up with the concept to have the lead be the embodiment of the prayers from the storyline in the game. Naturally we now needed the voices of the prayers, and who better to enlist than all the members of the project as a collective choir. I went and tracked down every single person from the project to enlist. About 22 people were able to come through and I am proud to say I used every track given to me from all the singing (Larry the Liontamer included) to the spoken word section during the female entrance.

In a rough order of who supplied the most material the choir is made up of:

Children of the Monkey Machine, DragonAvenger, Vampire Hunter Dan, Moonlapse, audio fidelity, OA, The Prophet of Mephisto, bustatunez, Mazedude, Level 99, Liontamer, theultravisitor, Loka Lafevre, Nathan Rich, Long Dao, Wiesty, Rozovian, Hy Bound, AeroZ, Abadoss, Avaris, and Ramaniscence.

We were able to get my composition teacher’s wife actually who came though and did a fantastic job as the lead female. Marcin Bela, my teacher was a big help for the song who guided me with lots of feedback and was the one who suggested the key change. How the male lead came about was kinda by accident. He showed me these tracks where he was screaming his guts and I took note of that later coming to the realization that this track could use a real Zeromus antagonist to heighten the drama and intensity. And the track from there became the rock opera epic that it would become.

I ended up taking over the direction of the track and laying down a bare-bones template for OA and Nutritious to follow. They did a fantastic job really bringing everything out I hoped for for the track. Andrew (OA) helped out with a lot of the arrangement, did all of the guitar work, and together, he and I wrote the lyrics inspired from the game. I generally wrote the female and male leads, and Andrew wrote the background Zeromus narrative and choir parts. Connor (Cyril the Wolf) improv’d the breakdown section where he loses it and helped out with a line or two of the other parts. I wanted it to be fresh for him to do that improv so I actually begged him to wait months and months to not listen to the track and lose the feeling of it being a fresh take. Thanks Connor! :) I am also rather thankful for Justin not killing me with all the tempo changes and modulations that made his job a complete nightmare. You did an awesome job buddy.

The plot here is simple if you know the game. Cecil and crew do battle with the ultimate bad guy who is living on their moon, that is the most hateful son of a gun around - Zeromus. He actually is killed before their eyes but is brought back to life; which is where the lyrical narrative from Zeromus comes from in the whispers and background screaming parts. In the story, everyone is knocked down and it seems like all hope is lost but what ends up happening is everyone on Earth is wishing and praying that the group will defeat this evil. It is their words of encouragement that ultimately guide the group to victory and which is the premise for our arrangement. We have the lead female (embodiment of the prayers) enter accompanied by the choir’s words of inspiration to make the connection of who she is. From there we have the narrative being delivered by the choir and Zeromus who actually goes back in forth with the ones fighting for the future of the planet. We have a section where the two trade off with different levels of intensity with their backing arrangement signaling their contrast. The chorus comes in as an actual battleground section where the instruments enter together and fight for dominance. The first time around we find Zeromus quite powerful and unrelenting. Which gives way later to his own breakdown in our breakdown. We then take a moment to reflect with the choir almost losing the hope to go on. But find the strength and from there ramp back up for battle and in the 2nd chorus to find Zeromus losing control and ultimately the battle.

The original source is littered throughout every section of the mix. The Breakdown where Zeromus losing it being all based on expanding that awesome dissonant syncopated section from the source. The only original section comes in the chant which is actually a borrowed section from OA’s previous track ‘Eminence Gris’ uniting the two together but still keeping with the motif of the source bassline through the progression. The OCReMix edit sadly needed to be cut short for the sake of quality and lost this section but it is included on the final release.

The mix was quite complex with about 255 choir takes maxing out my logic session and another 100+ tracks counting busses in the final mix. I tried my best but was fortunate to be able to get some help from zircon in the final stages. I sent him all the tracks with my volume automation and he tweaked things and mastered the track to get things to where you hear it now. Thank you Andy.

Other people to thank are Gary Earl and Audix for their awesome feedback that helped the track and for their stabs at mastering the track which were all fantastic in my opinion.

I really think this is the only track in the world that is actually deserving of something this ambitious and it is again the result only because of the people around me. This track has been a wonderful testament to what the community can accomplish together and I am so thankful for everyone; it became ultimately what it wanted to be and was out of my hands.

I would also suggest checking out the ff4 website for some extra bonus tracks inspired by this mix. Justin (Nutritious) is doing an arrangement focusing on the orchestra and voices with him actually taking over the part of Zeromus in an operatic way. And I am putting together an atonal version where all the parts will be played with just grand pianos. CotMM is also putting together an extended version of his take on the source. Who knows what else may come up.

The entire list of people connected to this track are as follows:

audio fidelity, Nutritious, OA, lisabela, Cyril the Wolf, Children of the Monkey Machine, DragonAvenger, Vampire Hunter Dan, Moonlapse, The Prophet of Mephisto, bustatunez, Mazedude, Level 99, Liontamer, theultravisitor, Loka Lafevre, Nathan Rich, Long Dao, Wiesty, Rozovian, Hy Bound, AeroZ, Abadoss, Avaris, Ramaniscence, Marcin Bela, Gary Earl, Audix, and zircon

Breakdown of credits:

audio fidelity: arrangement, lyrics, drums, synths

Nutritious: orchestra

OA: guitar, arrangement, lyrics

lisabela: female lead (prayer), and supporting female parts

Cyril the Wolf: male lead (zeromus)

Zeromus Choir: Children of the Monkey Machine, DragonAvenger, Vampire Hunter Dan, Moonlapse, audio fidelity, OA, The Prophet of Mephisto, bustatunez, Mazedude, Level 99, Liontamer, theultravisitor, Loka Lafevre, Nathan Rich, Long Dao, Wiesty, Rozovian, Hy Bound, AeroZ, Abadoss, Avaris, and Ramaniscence.

special thanks: Marcin Bela, Gary Earl, Audix, and zircon

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I'll be honest, I don't think I want to vote on this until we get a version that's the proper file size. (We are still doing <6MB, right? I've noticed we've had several subs lately that go over).

There is a LOT of stuff in this mix, and I can't help but be a little skeptical that it can be squeezed under 6MB even using VBR, and not have obvious encoding issues. :-\

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Removed the lyrics from the sub letter. Mine are more accurate anyway and embedded in the file. If we're bumping up to the 8MB limit, we may want to hold off on a 6MB version. IMO, let's just judge what's in front of us and then worry about the encoding. And I realize it's a more pertinent issue than usual, but let's keep it moving. I always post subs over 6MB because we need to judge the music.

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I definitely see what you're saying and where you're coming from, but even then, I feel like this song is a unique case. Its length coupled with the fact that it's kind of a mess make me skeptical that if in the event that it's passed, we'll be able to get a small enough version without running into impassible encoding issues. It's a little easier to bump the encoding down on a softer track, but this thing is the epitome of a wall of sound. It's 20 oz of liquid packed into a 12 oz can.

Also, what's this about bumping the file limit up to 8 now?

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I feel like I'm trying to judge some sort of alien song based on Earth music conventions here. The mix of electronic drums + female vocals + orchestra + growl + choir is bizarre, to say the least. I guess let's start with the arrangement of the source. I definitely may have missed something so please feel free to set me straight, OA.

0:00-0:15, 0:16-0:24, 1:21-1:30, 2:21-3:04, 3:26-4:08, 4:13-4:25, 5:08-5:18, 6:23-7:06, 7:09-7:24, 7:25-7:35 = 207 / 468 = 44%

That's a close call, and I don't know what way I would go on it, so I'm willing to give you the benefit of the doubt. I don't think it's a mistake to pass it on that level; it references the source nearly half of the time, if not more than that.

Next to the arrangement itself. This is definitely one of the most ambitious songs I've heard submitted, and though it's interesting to hear, it's not without its problems. I thought it was somewhat disjointed and some transitions were weak. The individual parts and writing were quite good, but at the busiest moments (2:42-3:04) it felt like there was too much going on. I liked it, but tough to say which side I fall on.

And finally, production, which is pretty good for a song with so much in it. However, I wasn't a fan of the way the drums were produced and they didn't seem to have much power to them, which hurt the whole piece. I also thought the soundscape was cramped - big surprise, right? But hell, it's certainly a better job than I would do with it.

I feel like this is borderline decision on three fronts, and I'm leaning towards NO because of that. The production is probably the thing which most leads me most in that direction, but if I was really behind the arrangement, I could probably overlook it. Any additional information someone can provide on source breakdown might cause me to take another look, but I think I'd probably still be a NO.

NO (resubmit?)

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I can't objectively vote on this since I spent a lot of time mastering it. What I will say is that the arrangement is definitely over 50% source.

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I can't objectively vote on this since I spent a lot of time mastering it. What I will say is that the arrangement is definitely over 50% source.

That still leaves seven other judges who can vote on this. Don't make me break out the judges mailing list! :|

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0:00-0:15, 0:16-0:24, 1:21-1:30, 2:21-3:04, 3:26-4:08, 4:13-4:25, 5:08-5:18, 6:23-7:06, 7:09-7:24, 7:25-7:35 = 207 / 468 = 44%

Some stuff you've missed and reasons why you suck:

1:41-1:48

1:51-1:58

2:01-2:08

2:11-2:21

5:43-5:50

5:53-6:00

6:03-6:10

6:13-6:20

All these passages has the "main theme" of Final Fantasy IV (also present in the source) as counterpoint to the vocals. That's roughly (not counting the 3 second pauses) 80 seconds of source.

5:32-5:37 - the Zeromus bass, 5 more seconds.

I'm still torn about this one so I'm gonna let it marinate a bit more but I thought this was relevant and would help the other voters. Long story short: SOURCE CHECKS OUT, KTHXBYE

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Lyrics again, mostly for my own reference.

Lyrics:

Prayer

*Zeromus*

(Choir)

*Madness, shrouding the light

Opening wounds that have nothing inside,

Sealed within, eternal night,

Lunarian blood pulls like the tides*

(Ahhh! Zeromus!

Ahhh! Zeromus!)

*Cycling entropy, choking decay

Contagion rot as the mind melts away*

Take this moment,

Into reflection,

And remember your path

We believe in you,

Supporting your trials,

Please hear our distant prayers for you

*Spiraling in further towards me at last,

Destroying your future, erasing your past*

Together, we'll fight for our world,

And protect it from this fiend

(Fire from within)

We must prevail

*Let me teach you how to suffer,

My hate is supreme,

And you will not stop me!*

(Essence born of hate)

Never we will lay down to,

Your sick and twisted lunacy

(Cleansing bloodstained wings)

*Life will cease when all is destroyed,

I will bring the end,

So come and meet your fate!*

(Deep beyond Hell's gates)

We must bring this dawn,

A new hope must become

*There is no hope*

United we are strong,

Our prayers will overcome

*Haha, nothing can defeat me*

And with the havoc that you have wrought,

That's brought the dark that tested our hearts,

*There's no escape*

We won't let you bring eternal night,

Zeromus, we won't go without a fight!

*If you're so eager, then come and die!

Die! Die! Die! Die!*

Show your true self

*Everything is now for me,

I will make you beg and plead,

Hehe, everything is now for me!

Just die!

Just perish!

Haha, die!!!*

(Growing stillness in the heavens,

Darkness deeper than the night,

Forcing all to flee or perish,

No one leaves this place alive,

Come within now, desolation,

Mirror surface bathed in black,

Endless silence through the terror,

Perfect hope begins to crack

Ahhh! Zeromus!

Ahhh! Zeromus!)

*Spiraling in further towards me at last,

Destroying your future erasing your past*

Together, we'll fight for our world,

And protect it from this fiend

(Fire from within)

We must prevail

*Let me teach you how to suffer,

My hate is supreme,

And you will not stop me!*

(Essence born of hate)

Never we will lay down to,

Your sick and twisted lunacy

(Cleansing bloodstained wings)

*Life will cease when all is destroyed,

I will bring the end,

So come and meet your fate!*

(Deep beyond Hell's gates)

We must bring this dawn,

A new hope must become

*There is no hope...*

United we are strong,

Our prayers will overcome

*...nothing can defeat me...*

And with the havoc that you have wrought,

That's brought the dark that tested our hearts,

*There is no escape!*

We won't let you bring eternal night,

Zeromus, we won't go without a fight!

*If you're so eager, then come and...GAH!!*

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Yep, source checks out, my bad on that. I definitely hear the FFIV theme in there. I'm still going with NO for the problems with the arrangement and production that I listed.

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I've been over this a lot now and I think I can finally put down my vote in words. This song suffers from a lot of issues you get from creating a track of such epic proportions. The arrangement (while mostly well written) is disjointed and doesn't sound cohesive. The parts sometimes just feels strangely glued together. The production is at times crowded and the blend of voices+real instruments+synths+samples is probably to blame. It's very hard to make out single elements in the mix for example. The growling, production of the female lead vocals and the drums were definitely weak points production-wise. The drums especially seems out of place and sound a bit flimsy. Some of the (many) highlights were the choir and guitar licks, well produced and musically pleasing.

While I certainly appreciate the try at an arrangement of this proportion you really have to make sure everything works together properly, it's easy to go overboard. This mix does a lot right. When it all comes down to it though, this track falls short in a few areas and ultimately ends up sounding too disjointed and messy. Sorry guys, I'm gonna have to vote

NO(borderline)

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Alright, I've been listening to this for the past hour and talking about it in IRC, and I've spent many many many more listens over the past couple months.

As far as I can tell, the arrangement seems like it would check out. Unfortunately, I'm afraid that there's just too many other quirks. I'm not going to spend too much time here, mainly just listing my primary concerns, in no particular order.

-The length. Somewhere between 4-5 minutes, I was about ready for the mix to be winding down. When 5:08 came back in with a fury, I kept thinking "Haven't I heard this already?" And then realized I still had 3+ minutes left to go.

-The ending. Just doens't seem like a natural fit for the track. Not sure else how to put that.

-The lead vocals. I'm so sorry, I don't know how else to say this, they just did not sound good to me. The intonation seemed a little off and there was a lot of scooping. Furthermore, they seemed a bit dry/underprocessed and just generally didn't fit the song very well. I realize that last part is kind of iffy ground, since this song is hard to categorize anyway. But I suppose that brings me to my next point.

-The style. Talking with Vinnie on this, we both agree that we're typically inclined to be more sympathetic to songs that go against the norm and take a risk for the sake of presenting something new. Unfortunately, I think this track is just too ambitious for its own good. At the risk of sounding like a douche, the word "trainwreck" did in fact come up several times from various people (both judges and non-judges alike) when discussing the juxtaposition of styles and timbres here. :( Not much more I can offer on that, really

-The production. Don't mean this as a slight against Andy, I think he did as well as he could with what he had to work with, but honestly, I think there's just 10 feet worth of substance crammed into 1 foot, so to speak. I can make out the thumpy bass, and the screaming, and about half of the orchestration, but the rest tends to jumble together as almost a kind of pink noise during the really busy parts.

All in all, I do appreciate the efforts here, it's still a remarkably impressive remix in it's own rights. Sounds like there's lots of great performances/programming involved on numerous levels, but overall the mashup of so many styles and elements is not all that different from an epic song being played on the stereo, while another equally epic song is being played on the TV, and yet another is blasting over the computer.

Sorry guys :(

NO

Not to sound like I'm making an excuse for such a late vote, but on top of trying to catch up on older submissions, I literally spent hours listening to this track over the past couple months, trying really hard to find every reasons to justify giving the track a YES, but I feel like I waited as long as I thought was fair.

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http://snesmusic.org/v2/download.php?spcNow=ff4 - "The Final Battle" (ff4-43.spc)

Structurally, folks will be surprised to learn that this is basically laid out exactly like the source tune, which is about 2 1/2 minutes. The track was 7:46-long, so I needed more then 233 seconds of source usage for a YES on that level:

:00-:24, 1:30-2:30, 2:40-2:50, 3:04-3:10, 3:16-4:02 (loosely based on the bass pattern of 1:19-1:28 of the source), 4:02-4:08, 4:20.5-5:17, 5:32-5:37.5, 5:42.5-6:32, 6:42-6:52, 7:06-7:24, 7:26-7:34

253.5 seconds, not counting the loose bass connection or any other connections I might have missed. I didn't check vs. anyone else's figures, so I might have missed other areas, but this was a pretty straightforward call for me as far as the source being used enough.

The percussion was probably the major weak point of this for me, and there was so much going on that the soundscape was often too cluttered. I gotta give zircon some props for cleaning this up a lot. The original version was a mess.

I understand crits on the female lead, and I agreed to some extent, but nowhere near where BGC was coming from, which I think was over the top. There were a couple of nasally-sounding moments, but I liked lisabela's lead. We're a hobbyist community, and the delivery was more than strong enough, IMO.

I don't have an inherent problem with the growling Zeromus vocals, but I thought they were too indistinct and should have been more understandable. You can go with "artistic expression" that since Zeromus is evil, he's a bundle of unchained energy, hence his part sounded so unrestrained. Not how I would go with it personally, but the vocals were otherwise well-produced and I can let my personal take go.

I wish the choir stuff had been more prominent, me being in it notwithstanding. But the way those vocals were put together was really impressive; it's a shame they weren't a bit louder, but I can't imagine how tricky it must have been to mix those into the rest of the track.

5:17-onwards really should have been condensed. The Meatloaf-esque rock pera stuff at 7:07 seemed to come out of nowhere. :lol: Not an inherently bad idea, but it could have been more seamlessly incorporated into the piece. And this is coming from someone understanding the A-to-B connections to the structure of the original.

I hate to seem out of touch, but this doesn't seem like an easy NO. And I heard this WIP and it's many, many problems from the get-go, and bitched about it, so I'm not being easy on it. There was an ambitious, expansive and creative arrangement, the dense soundscape was reasonably handled about as good as you're gonna get it courtesy Andy, and the voice work was strong even if I disagreed with the tone of the Zeromus vocals. It gets some signficant stuff wrong in the execution; the percussion was weak, there was clutter, and the track was too long. So I think if Jay improves, he'll look back on this in a few years and have more perspective on it. But those are basically the major crits from me, and not enough in light of what did work (which was a lot) to drag it down to NO. Flaws and all...

YES

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http://snesmusic.org/v2/download.php?spcNow=ff4 - "The Final Battle" (ff4-43.spc)I understand crits on the female lead, and I agreed to some extent, but nowhere near where BGC was coming from, which I think was over the top. There were a couple of nasally-sounding moments, but I liked lisabela's lead. We're a hobbyist community, and the delivery was more than strong enough, IMO.

I said so numerous times in IRC, perhaps I wasn't clear enough in my actual vote, but in my own slight defense, I did say that I thought the vocals would have been nice in practically any other style. I know we're a hobbyist community, and I don't expect Jill-quality vocals in every submission by any means. What I said so clearly in IRC that apparently wasn't clear in my vote is that the flaws of the vocals are amplified (to me) by the fact that they feel so out-of-place with the rest of the song. I realize the intent (artistic expression as you worded it) of having the lead singer vs. the growl singer to tell the story of the game in the song, but I also concluded that while I appreciate the intent, the outcome just seemed too jumbled and cluttered.

Think of it this way. If someone records a live, I dunno, french horn in their remix, and while it's not perfect, it's a pretty decent recording, that's great. However, if the remix is say, some trance song where a french horn is generally not going to fit anyway, and the horn is mixed very dry and forward, it's going to probably seem worse than it is. And a performance that would otherwise probably be acceptable is going to seem much more exposed and weak. That's where I'm coming from.

I'm sure that I am going to look like a huge jerk to lisabela if/when she reads my crits, but that is absolutely not my intent. I don't think she has a terrible voice by any means, I just don't think that the performance was spot on, plus they weren't processed or mixed well, and that they didn't seem a proper fit for the rest of the song anyway.

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