RWBY’s music is perhaps one of the most celebrated parts of the series whether somebody enjoys the series, hates it, likes it but recognizes its flaws, or something else. One of the first things to happen after a new volume ends is people ask when the soundtrack is coming out. It seems like almost everyone in the fandom (and a lot even in the hatedom) look forward to it.
Every song has people enjoy it or dislike it. What can be powerful and impactful to one person may just be a bop or a jam to someone else.
However, there are two (arguably three) songs that stand out above the rest. Perhaps not necessarily in quality but in content. They are Cold from Volume 3, Let’s Just Live from Volume 4, and Indomitable from Volume 6.
These are the legacy songs dedicated in loving memory to Monty Oum, the series creator who unfortunately passed away between Volumes 2 and 3. Each captures a moment in time of the process at least Jeff and perhaps the rest of CRWBY were going through.
Cold is the first of these legacy songs, the last of the non-remix/acoustic tracks for V3. It’s a slow, somber piano melody that captures the sorrow that captures the loss of Monty. It speaks to how lost and afraid everyone felt without his direction. Before Volume 3 came out, they weren’t sure if they should continue the series or not. But, in the end, they did so. Like the lyrics state: “But your star’s still in the sky / So I won’t say goodbye / I don’t have to say goodbye.”
Let’s Just Live is the second legacy song and is the opening theme for Volume 4. It fits the tone of the volume perfectly and it gives a bit of insight into how they felt behind the scenes. The song is all about being able to keep moving forward (Monty’s mantra) but being afraid of doing so. But, despite that fear, you shouldn’t let it hold you down and. You need to embrace the current moment and just love life. It’s a song of healing but uncertainty and trying to find the right way after losing almost everything. You have to Move Onward (even if you’re) Not There Yet.
Indomitable is the last of the legacy songs (at least until the V7 soundtrack comes out?) and, to me, it is the crowning jewel of songs in the series. This song throws away all pretenses of alluding to things that happen in the series and just goes all out in remembering Monty. The entire song was a tribute to his famous quote:
“I believe that the human spirit is indomitable. If you endeavor to achieve, it will happen given enough resolve. It may not be immediate, and often your greater dreams are something you will not achieve within your own lifetime. The effort you put forth to anything transcends yourself, for there is no futility even in death.”
It starts off with a slow gospel feel and slowly builds up to a peak before pulling back several times. It’s massively inspirational, talking about how you shouldn’t stop no matter how hard things get. Even in your darkest hour, you still have the power to make things better. The strongest part of the song is the bridge (probably the wrong term, I don’t know much lyrical terminology) between Verse 3 and the final chorus. Just hearing the emotion in Casey’s voice about how unfair losing him still gets to me sometimes almost a year later.
As stated earlier, these songs seem to chart a pretty good course of how CRWBY felt. During Volume 3, things were at their lowest because they weren’t sure what to do. During Volume 4, they were still figuring things out especially while working with Maya. They were healing and making their way the best they could, learning to love things again. Volume 6 is their triumph, returning stronger than ever especially after the disaster that was Volume 5. They know that, even without Monty, they can keep pushing forward and continue trying to improve. They’re still hurting deep down and will always miss him, but they have the confidence to try their best.
Perhaps one of the most interesting things I found when listening to the songs was how much Indomitable is a direct response to Cold down to its very structure.
Obviously these are my own thoughts and observations, not necessarily the true intent.
When one lines up the first two verses of Cold and Indomitable (with a little bit of finagling), it’s honestly startling how much Indomitable echoes Cold. Obviously, Jeff has a pretty specific style of writing songs and there are many established conventions. But, in the case of these two songs, it feels like it might have been intentional.
The first verse of each song is comprised of three stanzas followed by the first repetition of the chorus. The second verse of each contains four stanzas followed by the last/next repetition of the chorus. Each stanza does have a different line length per song, but the general structure for each of them is the exact same.
However, it gets most interesting when you look at the lyrics side by side.
[Image description: A two-columned table with the lyrics for Cold on the left and Indomitable on the right. It goes up to the first use of the chorus. (I apologize to any TTS users; this is just too much text to put into an image caption. It’s over a dozen lines of lyrics for each song.)]
There isn’t much to say about the first stanza as they don’t really have any points about each other. However, Stanzas 1 and 2 in Indomitable go more into the creative process behind RWBY, echoing Stanza 2 in Cold. Together, they shed some light on each other, especially with a bit more context. Monty obviously had a lot of confidence in what he did and poured his entire heart and soul into his projects. That sort of confidence and passion can fan the flames in other people. Even if they’re uncertain about things themselves, others believing in them can help things happen. Stanza 3 of Indomitable bleeds over into this sentiment as well, showing that Monty’s strength of spirit was what encouraged them to keep going.
But Stanza 3 of Indomitable does seem to be a distinct response 3 of Cold. Even though he died, the strength of Monty’s spirit taught so many people how to keep moving forward. They didn’t realize it at the time, but it did happen.
And that rolls us into the first appearance of the choruses. Cold, of course, talks about how disabling losing Monty was. It felt like the world had ended and it’d never get better. They didn’t know what to do next, but there was one tiny glimmer of hope: continuing to work on the series in his memory.
Indomitable shows what 3-4 years can do to change perspective and, like Salem in the opening V1 narration echoes, “even the smallest spark of hope is enough to ignite change.” Indomitable speaks to how that tiny glimmer of hope of not having to say goodbye to the series helped a lot. No longer does it feel like things are ending, but the future is brighter than ever. The strength that Monty gave him while he was alive continues on and lives inside everyone.
Onto Verse 2.
[Image description: Cold lyrics on left, Indomitable on right. It covers Verse 2 and the chorus of each song. Cold ends though Indomitable continues out of the image. The first line of Indomitable’s bridge can be seen, cut off at the bottom: “Don’t be afraid.”]
I do find Stanzas one for both kinds of interesting. They have the exact same number of lines. Most of the stuff isn’t directly in my interpretation, but indirect. Sometimes you’ll join a group of people and it’s a singular dream that pulls you together. Even if that dream is huge, working little by little can make it a reality. You now belong in that place and have a direction.
Stanzas 2 is where I feel like my theory of Indomitable being a direct response to Cold has serious validity. Like seriously. It’s almost basically the same idea but in different wording. There’s not a whole lot I can say here to try to expand on it. It’s just…so straightforward.
Stanzas 3, again, feels like a direct response here. Once again it talks about the little spark of hope that’s there even though it feels impossible to keep going forward. However, in Indomitable, they’re going to carry that torch of hope. What felt like an almost insurmountable challenge was overcome and more than they possibly ever might’ve dreamed in that initial aftermath. Even though Monty’s gone, his dream and light aren’t. They continue to burn brightly in the hearts of those working on the show. They recognize that Monty wasn’t going to live forever, but his spirit will due to his creation.
And, once again, we find ourselves at the chorus.
The thing I find kind of cool is that this is where Cold ends, yet Indomitable continues on. I don’t know if it was intentional to make Indomitable longer than Cold, but it just almost feels symbolic. Cold is a short song that’s to the point. It’s straightforward in its message and feelings. It doesn’t need to be longer than it is.
Indomitable, however, is a decent length longer and goes on to try to inspire the listener.
“Don’t be afraid!
Get up, get going, a step everyday
I’ll meet you there.
When we strive, we transcend
Even death cannot end our climb”
Of course, the “Get up, get going” part is a reference to one of Monty’s tweets:
[Image description: A white background with a singular highlighted tweet. It’s Monty’s Twitter account, the tweet saying, “We are never fighting alone. Get up, get going, I’ll meet you there.” Dated 12:30 AM Aug 20, 2013]
I can imagine that Jeff and other members of CRWBY have had to repeat similar things to themselves so they can keep going. But I do like to think this song is also for the listeners. I detailed how this song and others saved me from myself in another article. This song is something that can hit all creators deeply. Whether drawing, writing, sculpting, performance art, or whatever other medium use you choose, this is a message to never stop creating. You may go through slumps, but the power is inside of you to get through it. It may be hard now but the light will come again.
And that’s the legacy that Monty’s left us with.
No matter how dark or difficult things are, you can keep moving forward. It may not be easy, but you can.
The human spirit is indomitable and will never stop burning unless you let your light go out.