Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Hump Day Hot Ticket: Master Sword “Isle of the Sky Spirits”

Band photo

If you are a fan of The Legend of Zelda video game franchise, as I am, then the month of March is an exciting time. Breath of the Wild, the first new Zelda game for a major console in over 5 years is just days away. Another event that is just as exciting but isn't getting nearly as much press: the video premiere of “Isle of the Sky Spirits”, the first single from Master Sword's upcoming full-length debut, Shadow and Steel.

Who is Master Sword? If you are new here, then you probably don't know that I have written about them before. Master Sword is a power metal band from Maryland that pays tribute to The Legend of Zelda in their music: either by writing lyrics pertaining to Zelda lore, or composing metal versions of beloved Zelda themes. It is clear that the band has strong knowledge of the games and understands the material in ways that only the most hardcore Zelda fan could (and they can get pretty intense!). Most of all, you can hear the love and respect they have for the games and their creators. Master Sword seeks to take you on a journey through Hyrule (and all its parallel universes), encouraging listeners to step inside of Link's green tunic and live out his adventures with him.

So then, it stands to reason that for the band's first video, they want to do exactly that, and not only bring the familiar sights and sounds of the Zelda universe to fans who already love and enjoy the series, but also to share this world with the metal fanbase who may not necessarily know about Zelda or video games. It's quite a fine line to walk: you want the references to be detailed enough for the biggest fans to instantly recognize, but also simplistic enough to where the most casual observer can still follow along.

Master Sword manages to strike this balance perfectly. The video begins with a shot of waves gently lapping on the shore, and the band instantly kicks into a heavy jam of the Dragon Roost Island theme, an integral piece of music from The Wind Waker—a Zelda game whose story centers on a world submerged in water, and the few islands that rose from the flood to sustain the lives that remained.

If you have read my previous reviews about Master Sword, then you will know that their first EP featured vocal duties from several different singers, including Thrillkiller's Rob Bradley, and Nina Osegueda from A Sound of Thunder. If you know what powerful voices those two have, then you know that whoever the band chose to recruit for a full-time vocalist had to be someone who was really gonna knock your socks off, because they are a tough act to follow!

From the moment that Master Sword's frontwoman Lily Hoy opens her mouth, her voice roars out and makes it apparent that not only can she hold her own with either of the aforementioned singers, but her vocals are so powerful that the speakers on my little phone can barely handle it! She is dressed in a green ensemble of her own, and her eye makeup is painted in the design of the Sheikah tribe, the protectors of Hyrule's royal family, and keepers of the monarchy's darkest secrets. (This reference will have meaning later.)

Meanwhile, we see a hooded figure in a green tunic and the trademark Hylian Shield, and we know it is Link walking along the sandy shores. The other bandmembers are wearing pendants of the Hylian Shield to further emphasize the reference. Most of the video alternates between shots of the band performing, and quick glimpses of “Link” wielding his sword, or standing very hero-like by the shore. We never see the two parties meet, but as Link walks along, we see the bandmembers (minus Lily) standing on a hill, dressed in hooded cloaks just like the Seven Sages that guard the Sacred Realm, where Hyrule's main center of power resides: the Triforce. As the Link character approaches closer, the music turns to a more faithful rendition of the Dragon Roost Island theme; a more classical sound reminiscent of merry minstrels and wandering troubadours. When Link reaches the cloaked figures and doffs his own hood, my inner Zelda geek rejoices as I see the trademark blue Ocarina of Time. As Link takes the Ocarina and holds it to his lips, Master Sword saves the best surprise for last by making reference to the greatest Zelda plot twist in the franchise's history.

For more information on Master Sword, or to purchase Shadow and Steel, visit the band's official website.

Special thanks to Matt Farkas.


*This review is dedicated to the memory of Zellie Blake: 1982-2010.*
“Whenever there is a meeting, a parting shall follow. But that parting needs not last forever. Whether a parting be forever or merely for a short while...that is up to you.”
—The Happy Mask Salesman, Majora's Mask

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