Reviews for "Facing the Foe"

With the incredibly long review you gave me this round, I almost feel like I'll be shortchanging you, but I honestly don't have a whole lot to say. You have quite simply outdone yourself, Lucid. Again.

In so many ways this brings to mind classic Final Fantasy battle themes, as well as other JRPG offerings of a similar ilk. Your track is easily as good, if not better, than most. The lack of repetition is fantastic in my book, not to mention the sheer variety of instruments that take the stage. To someone like myself who really enjoys a good video game dustup, this is like the blood that flows through my veins. It's precisely the kind of jam that gets me pumped and keeps me fighting with all I've got.

Ah, man. There are really only a few things that I want to bring up, and they're purely based on my own personal tastes. First and foremost, I do not like that closed hi-hat. I do like what you do with the transitioning from hat to snare, but as hi-hats go that one just doesn't feel like it fits the song to me.
Next, there's so much going on most of the time that it's almost overwhelming. I'm good with it, but it does make me wonder what a more casual audience might think and if they can keep up. In a way, I suppose this is a good thing, because it almost forces the listener to play it through more than once.
Which brings me to my final act of opining, which is simply a preference for songs that have an actual ending to loops here in the ADM. A crazy semantic sort of thing, I know. Not to mention the fact that I think it actually loops incredibly well, despite what you said in the Author Comments. That said, since this is the type of track it is and it loops well, it could fit very nicely in an actual game. Bonus! :D

So yeah, feel free to take most of that with a grain of salt or two. I love this track and what you do. Some of the key changes are really impressive, and they don't even last all that long! And the brass--so good. I'm kind of jealous of the instrument library you have at your disposal, and my imagination is running away with me just thinking of what I could do with a bit of EW at my fingertips....

Once more, VERY well done, LSD. I've probably listened to this a good half dozen or so times by now. I have absolutely no earthly idea what the judges will do or how they will rate our tracks, but I want to wish you the very best of luck even though we're up against each other. Excelsior~!

LucidShadowDreamer responds:

"I almost feel like I'll be shortchanging you"

He said, after having written a review that's only slightly shorter XD
Also, you've written reviews for tons of tracks lately! Great work o.O
I should get to my round of reviews tomorrow...

I totally used the same rhythm here as in several FF battle themes (including VII and X!), and in other tracks from other games as well. I must admit, it's a great rhythm (I think bassfiddlejones actually used it in "Unsung Hero" too)! I tried to write my melodies in a way that both references the FF/Kingdom Hearts feel, as well as making it feel battle-ish enough while still keeping a pretty light tone to the atmosphere, apart from a few parts.
Great to hear that I'm not the only one who appreciates a lack of repetition (there is some secret hidden repetiotion in this track though, muahahahaha)!

"Closed hi-hat"

=> I totally knew that pretty much everyone would comment negatively on this XD The simple truth is that I don't think I had a good closed hi-hat sample whatsoever for that part. But conceptually, I really wanted it to be there, so I included it despite my better judgement (also , time). It's one of the only intruments that's not EWQL (the other three are two atmospheric effects you probably wouldn't even hear if I didn't point them out, and the piano).
Hey, btw, did you find that flute trill?!? :D

As for the complexity, I am aware. But I think that even a less experienced listener would be able to enjoy this track; especially the highlights. While I have layers of melodies upon each other at points, I feel like the main ones are prominent enough to work on their own. I've actually tried to focus on listening to only certain parts of the track (also for mixing reasons), and if you just focus on one melody enough, you'll barely notice the other ones :)
Also, I imagine that in a game, people would hear this enough times to know it's every second by heart (while I am a musician, I am also partly a game designer, hehhe).

As for the looping, I get your point, even if I don't feel the same. The reason is that I don't think a battle track is much good if it can't loop, even if it's not featured in a game. Especially not a "random battle" theme. If this was for a cinematic sequence, I'd agree it should have an ending. The other option was to fade it out, and say that it would loop in-game, and I did NOT want to do that XD Even though this was made for a competition, I want it to stay as true as possible for the genre. Otherwise, I definitely wouldn't have looped it (at one point, the piano version actually had an ending).
That said, I think this is the wrong kind of loop for a (most a) battle track. Instead of starting with a climax, I think the track should start on a calmer note, then build up, and then at some point gradually turn calmer again, before starting over. That's because most battles themes start that way, slowly easing you into the battle. But I am okay with a loud boom that's really telling you that a battle is starting as well. It just takes away some of the seemlessness of the loop as a whole ;p

So basically, I agree with all of your points, and I was aware of them from before, but decided (perhaps unwisely) to make them as it is. The hi-hat still bothers me though, but I didn't have time to swap it out nor searching online for a better suiting sample. This track was divided into 7 different parts, due to both software and hardware limitations XD

Key changes have been my thing ever since I noticed one can do that. I try to use both new and old key changes (ones I've used before) all the time, because I love the extra energy or emphasis they can add; especially into a track like this. I basically started this track out with 4 changes (5 keys/not key specific chords, depending on how you want to look at it) in the first 9 seconds, so yeah...
But I tried so follow two (or three) main keys, while borrowing chords and jumping around a bit, as to not go too much overboard. This was originally written as a solo piano piece, but arranged to work for an orchestra. The base for this track took only 3 hours to compose on the piano. The rest took me more than 40 hours, because I had no idea what I was doing, and just hoped for the best, while constantly adding more and more, including new melodies, despite time limitations XD

Yeah. I got EWQLSOSE when it was half price. It was a very good decision, I feel. Not only because of the quality of the intruments (though some feel it's dated), but because getting myself an orchestral mini-arsenal really motivated me to write more, and bigger things!!! I definitely recommend buying something like this on sale ;)
Now, learning how to mix the orchestra is a completely separate deal that I'm still obviously working on... I am very happy with my progress on this track though, if you compare it to "Facing the Stormy Sea", which is my previous fully orchestral track. In a few years, I hope to be much better in this area as well :)

Once again, thank you very much for the long review, and for all the compliments! I've probably listened to your track more than 20 times already :D Not meaning that as a listening competition; your track is simply so relaxing and soothing to listen to that it's perfect when reading or doing something similar :3

Same goes for me. I just feel like I don't want to disappoint dem0lecule, but he said he likes this track, so that is good enough. If you win, I'll be rooting for you XD
Best of luck!

P.S. Sorry for my rambling in this response, it's already over 6am, and I'm still awake :p
This will be an interesting school day :D