THE BLACK MAGES were a Japanese progressive rock / progressive metal band. They formed in 2002 when Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu (植松伸夫) (keyboards, compo) decided, having heard and enjoyed rock arrangements of some of his Final Fantasy themes by 福井健一郎 (on keyboards and guitar, Kenichiro Fukui) and 関戸剛 (on lead guitar, Tsuyoshi Sekito), to form a band to showcase these arrangements. The other members include 河盛慶次 (on bass, Keiji Kawamori), 羽入田新 (on drums, Arata Hanyuuda), and 岡宮道生 (on guitar, Michio Okamiya).
The band revised some of Uematsu's most popular fighting themes from the games of the Final Fantasy line in order to publish them in newly-arranged shape on the album The Black Mages: Battle Music of Final Fantasy. The Black Mages' overall style is a complex hybrid of progressive rock and neo-classical power metal. The songs on the first album are all instrumental and all arrangements of battle themes. The Black Mages' second album, entitled The Black Mages II: The Skies Above, was released in Japan on December 22, 2004. This album features guest vocalists on two tracks and features arrangements of a few tracks that were not originally battle themes, but the majority of tracks are still instrumental arrangements of battle themes.
The Black Mages performed live at Shibuya-AX, April 26-27, 2003. The performance was released on DVD exclusively to fanclub members residing in Japan. The performance marked the debut of the later released "Matoya's Cave" and featured additional solos within songs. During the introduction of band members, Michio Okamiya performed a rendition of the Chocobo Theme and Nobuo Uematsu performed the intro to Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water".
The Black Mages released their third album, The Black Mages III: Darkness and Starlight, on March 19th, 2008. The Black Mages themselves sing the chorus for the song "Darkness and Starlight", a new, extended arrangement of the opera "The Dream Oath: Maria and Draco" from Final Fantasy VI.
They disbanded in 2010. Uematsu still performs some Final Fantasy music in his new band Earthbound Papas, which also contains other ex-Black Mages members.
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