In less than six months, Materia Collective has published two back-to-back NieR “Glory” albums. After publishing the ROZEN+REVEN album “Glory to Mankind” in September 2017, they followed it up with Ferdk’s EP-sized “Glory to Metal” in February 2018. Ferdk, full name Fernando Carabajal, has been arranging and performing VGM since 2011, and made his debut with Materia Collective in 2015 on their first release, “MATERIA” (a Final Fantasy VII remix album). This EP marks Ferdk’s first solo release under Materia Collective.
I have to say, when I first decided to give this album a listen, I was hesitant about the “Symphonic Metal” descriptor. It’s not that I find the genre unpalatable in all instances, or that it is necessarily derivative in nature. Rather, I find that it is difficult to do well… especially if you’re just one person with a few instruments and some synth soundbanks available for recording. Could Ferdk do justice to the amazing work of the MONACA sound team?
I’m happy to say that for the most part, the answer is “yes.” As you’d imagine, this EP shines most brightly when Ferdk is breaking out amazing guitar licks. Fans of, say, Danimal Cannon and Stemage (and everyone else on the “Metroid Metal” projects) will definitely dig the guitar parts. I was especially pleased with the way the melody came through for “Grandma (Destruction).” And, of course, the tracklist generally fits the soundscape Ferdk presented, with one exception…
“Forest Kingdom” was a truly unique choice. The other tracks are battle themes. I’d have expected Simone’s battle music “A Beautiful Song” over the environmental theme “Forest Kingdom.” But here it is. Does it work? Yes! The piece begins with a simple marimba repetition, followed by low strings and orchestral bells. The percussionist in me was sold already. Then, the trademark guitar with a third-harmony following the melody at all times. After the first minute, things pick up very nicely as another layer of guitars come in to do rhythm/comp work, and a proper “drum kit” layer of percussion is added as well. This piece nicely demonstrates that Ferdk is ready to work slow-tempo, less energetic pieces and still do something incredible with them.
So, do I have any complaints? Absolutely! I have exactly one complaint. ROZEN+REVEN released “Glory to Mankind” as a full length, 50 minute album. Ferdk, in contrast, is only dipping his toes in the water. I get that it’s a lot of work for one person. But the source material is ripe for plucking and transmuting into “Symphonic Metal.” I would have been happy to wait another six months and get additional tracks from the release. And, while I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ferdk release a second volume, I’d rather have one release than have little EPs tossed out from one month to the next. Too many releases can become too much for everyone to follow. At least, that’s been my experience with VGM. Release your OSTs or arrangements in multiple volumes, and you lose followers over time. I don’t want to lose track of Ferdk’s work! So, if there is another album on the way, I can only pray it’s a full length release and not another EP-sized release.