Editor’s Note: This album is a combination of the various “Frontiers” mini-albums released on iTunes, as well as other, previously released tracks. The “Frontiers” albums do not feature any music that is not also featured here.
Released digitally at the end of this month’s Final Fantasy 25th Anniversary event, Eorzean Frontiers is a collection of just about every track from the current version of Final Fantasy XIV. It includes music from Field Tracks and Battle Tracks (both of which were lovingly reviewed by our own Patrick Gann), in addition to many new pieces that have been added since the game’s launch. If you’ve ever been curious about the music of FFXIV, but have been reluctant to try the game itself, this album is your perfect opportunity to begin an aural exploration of Eorzea.
We begin with field tracks. “Unspoken” is a somber piece with whining violins that suit the desolate cliffs of Mor Dhona. In contrast, “Starlight and Sellswords” takes the same melody and kicks it up a notch with jazzy saxophone. If I may paraphrase, guilty sellswords have got no rhythm. The stout-hearted “Horizons Calling” is very iconic of FFXIV, as the song used on the game’s official website prior to launch. Despite its inclusion in one of the previous FFXIV albums, “Twilight Over Thanalan” remains my favorite field song. Its repeating four-note melody bores its way into my head and settles in for the long haul. I can think of worse visitors to my auditory cortex.
The three themes of the Grand Companies of Eorzea have very Ivalice-esque vibes. “The Hall of Flames” combines marching drums and trumpets in an anthem that sounds like something out of Star Wars. “Maelstrom Command” has the same drums, but its trumpets are an octave or two higher, giving it a more lighthearted feeling. “Into the Adder’s Den” is yet another militaristic tune, and once again employs marching drums, this time in conjunction with bells and what sounds like an oboe. While they sound fairly similar to one another, each song has a few distinguishing characteristics that highlights its nation of origin. (Serpent Sergeant First Class Embryon, reporting in!)
SOKEN really went all-out with his battle tracks. “Fallen Angel” opens with chilling piano and ethereal moaning, which quickly descends into madness at the behest of a female voice whispering, “Now, fall.” Guitar, drums, and organ unite in a rockin’ frenzy befitting the song’s subject, the capricious Garuda. The dramatic “Rise of the White Raven,” which plays during the final battle against the villainous Nael van Darnus, juxtaposes otherworldly operatic crooning with a stirring arrangement of the Final Fantasy main theme. It clearly draws inspiration from songs like “One Winged Angel” from Final Fantasy VII and “Born Anew” from Final Fantasy XIII.
A personal favorite of mine is the ridiculous “Good King Moggle Mog XII,” which bears more than a passing likeness to a certain song from The Nightmare Before Christmas. Using an arrangement of the familiar moogle theme as its base, it eschews the expected by becoming a darkly humorous sing-along, with lyrics that describe the titular moogle king and his seven subordinates. I don’t think there’s any way someone could listen to this track without having it stuck in his head for the rest of the day. Go on. I double-moogle-dare you.
This album gives me hope that the legacy of Final Fantasy XIV 1.0 will not be its broken gameplay systems, but instead its incredibly rich and diverse musical score. I hope that most (if not all) of these tracks make a reappearance in A Realm Reborn, because they deserve far more exposure. Uematsu, SOKEN, Mizuta, Sekito, and Yamazaki have pooled together their unique talents to create a soundtrack truly worthy of the Final Fantasy name.