Master Sword – Shadow and Steel (Self-Released)

Thursday, 4th January 2018
Rating: 8.5/10

While many metal bands tackle fantasy lyrics, there aren’t a ton that really go after the video game market. While there have been more in recent years (such as Machinae Supremacy or Powerglove), it’s still a pretty untapped resource. But if more high quality acts such as Master Sword enter the scene, it’s one that’s rip to explode.

If the band’s name doesn’t give it away, Master Sword are a Legend of Zelda-themed act. While they are firmly rooted in traditional heavy metal and progressive rock/metal, the Zelda influences are equally worn on their sleeves through both the lyrical content and the melodies in each track. Being a Zelda fan is not a necessity to enjoy it due to the overall strength of the music – but those who are (and no doubt familiar with the already high quality of the original compositions in the game) will surely gain an even stronger appreciation for the tracks within. It’s clear that from the lyrical content that they are huge fans of the games and grasp the concepts fully.

The icing on the cake is how the music from the games are integrated with guitar, bass, drums, and keys. They can do it directly, such as the cover of Ocarina of Time’s “Hyrule Field,” or in more subtle manners with tracks like “Sanctuary” (based on a dungeon from A Link to the Past) or “Isle of the Sky Spirits” (from The Wind Waker). Attention is also given to more recent adventures in the series, with the rousing “Let Me Show You the Night” (Twilight Princess) and reflective “My Destined One” (Breath of the Wild) – both of which also work as examples to show the range of vocalist Lily Hoy, who can belt out the lyrics with definitive power or gentleness as the track dictates.

Listening to the music from a solely heavy metal perspective, the songs are held together with plenty of energy and soaring melodies. It’s heavy, it’s catchy, and the longer tracks have the dynamics at hand to hold the listener’s interest with aplomb (see “Beneath the Skin” or “Master of the Seas”). But most importantly, in the end it’s a love letter to Zelda devotees that does right by the series as well as passing the litmus test for traditional/progressive metal fans. If you have even a slight interest in either camp, Shadow and Steel should be on your radar.

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