by Jason Parker (Ragachak)
The Legend of Zelda is far and away one of my favorite franchises, even if I’ve missed a lot of the more recent titles, mostly due to not having a console to play them on. I missed out on the Ocarina of Time/Majora’s Mask craze, as well as Twilight Princess/Wind Waker. So when I got word that Materia Collective produced a Zelda album, I was immediately on board. Composed and Arranged by Rozen, it’s a trip through the Zelda mythos, focusing primarily on The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Ocarina of Time, Skyward Sword, and Twilight Princess alongside some of Rozen’s personal, original work, it really packs a whole lot of drama and tension into fifteen tracks. Though the world of Hyrule is bright and colorful, the history of this land is filled with darkness and pain. The way that Rozen straddles that line, and creates moments that even someone who has not played the titles can enjoy. There are some very incredible moments and composition that would find itself at home among any epic fantasy TV series or film. But more important than that, it would compliment any of the Zelda titles. Julie Elven, the London Strings, and everyone else who had a hand in this ought to feel proud of what they’ve created. It strayed away from a few more common, obvious songs, or older songs, such as pieces from Zelda 3: A Link to the Past (my personal favorite) and the more common Zelda fanfare, which I think is an interesting choice. If it was there, I missed it. I could listen to Julie Elven sing all day, as an aside.
“More than a straightforward orchestral remix album, this album goes deeper into retelling the mythos of Hyrule, scoring the key moments where humanity is the audience to the colossal battles between light and shadow,” notes Rozen. “Through the use of live instruments, huge percussion, choir, hybrid elements, and dreamy vocals, experience the dark nature and the never-ending cycle of the curse trapped inside the divine-given Triforce.”
Gerudo Legend (ft. Julie Elven, Track 4): This is, without a doubt, my favorite song on the entire album. Julie’s vocals match the epic, slowly building crescendo for a very familiar, fan favorite in the modern Zelda titles. Julie’s voice is ethereal and is a delightful contrast to the heavy thud of the drums in this song. Sure, I love every single song on this album, but if I had to pick a favorite, it would be this one, far and away. There are a lot of songs that feature Ganondorf and his Gerudo tribe on this album, but this one feels the most majestic. The rise and fall of the chanting/singing mimics the rise and fall of Ganondorf Dragmire. It’s also one of the longer songs on the album, coming in at a whopping 7:22 minutes, and halfway through, with the more organ/church sound to the music really suits it, in my opinion. The song has a marching quality to it as if I could see Ganondorf himself making a dedicated walk towards the battle, or Link himself squaring up to do battle with the Thief.
Calamity (Track 12): I have not played Breath of the Wild, but I am familiar with Calamity Ganon, so I assume this is what that track comes from. The cello in this piece made this piece stand out all on its own. This in a way, reminded me of Final Fantasy VII, in the pieces early in the game where AVALANCHE was on their way to try and stop ShinRa’s evil ways. That’s not a knock, that’s just what it made me think of. This also has parts where it sounds like it belongs in a church. It builds to a fever pitch, the music growing frantic, chaotic, louder, truly befitting the name “Calamity”.
Ganon’s Requiem (Track 13): A requiem has a few definitions, but the one that springs to mind here is “an act or token of remembrance”. It could be argued that Ganondorf, the King of Evil, is a tragic hero. I mean, you could definitely argue it. This song certainly has a religious feel to it, and a remembrance of what Ganon/Ganondorf could have been. It’s really a fascinating series, The Legend of Zelda, even with its ludicrous timeline. About halfway through the song, it breaks from its pace and switches to a piano, chant and stringed instruments, as if he were about to perish, and Ganon looks once more upon the Triforce, or perhaps his eternal rival, Link. This album gives you a lot to think about if you let it.
Song of Hylia (Track 5): Song of Hylia starts dark and grim, evocative of this album, before brightening with a haunting voice in the background. The track swells and grows, creating a more peaceful sensation as it goes on. It’s very reminiscient of the cycle of life and death in Hyrule, how one always gives way to the other, not unlike some other RPGs I can think of (FFX’s Spira). The strings picking up their pace, barely heard in the distance was a nice touch, and it certainly got my blood pumping. This album could easily be a Zelda game soundtrack all on its own.
If you even love one Zelda game, you owe it to yourself to pick this up. Even if you didn’t play Breath of the Wild, Majora’s Mask, et cetera. Even if you have a love of the original few titles, this won’t go amiss in your collection. You can find them on Bandcamp, iTunes, and Spotify. My only regret, is that I do not own this on CD/Vinyl. This would look fantastic in any vinyl collection.