Chose Jenova Absolute, which is more of a reflection for how disappointed I was in Dark Messenger. I'll set the scene: I'm a huge fan of the other Kuja themes, up there in my FF faves, but I remember playing FFIX, reaching Trance Kuja for the first time, and expecting a mindblowing song, as I had really enjoyed FFVII and FFVIII's final boss music. The music starts with the usual Kuja leitmotif, and acts like it is gonna build up to something... and then it becomes a weird jazzy-rock number??? And then I realise he's not even the final boss!
Jenova Absolute. Not only is it hella badass sounding and not far off something I'd actively choose to listen to, I have a real thing against churches so the organ in Dark Messenger is a realllll turn off for me. And I agree with Ghost, I was disappointed. I wanted something more when I was busy kicking Kuja's butt.
I love Dark Messenger, but JENOVA Absolute has that bangin’ 6/4 time signature and brass orchestra that feels like a progression — a maturation — of Those Who Fight. Compositionally it’s really simple and repetitive, but that’s because it’s the first of a three-boss gamot that ends with OWA. Uematsu has to keep that build going across 3 songs! Amazing. My only beef is that it doesn’t sound anything like JENOVA or use any of its phrases or melodies, whereas Dark Messenger is the definitive finale for Kuja’s theme, jazz organ and all.
Dark Messenger was my vote. Jenova Absolute isn't bad, but it doesn't impress me very well. I wouldn't say Dark Messenger is the best boss theme either, but I love the 'jazzy-rock number' it turns into.