Posted on April 11 2018 by Kat Vadam
January 2, 2018. Many of us spent the day getting over our holiday adventures. Some just took the time to acquaint with the new year. But for five musicians, that day marked a milestone, beginning a brand-new chapter in their history. All the sweat, lost voices, time spent, and determined frustration finally came to fruition. On that day, power metal quintet Master Sword released their fury upon the world with their full-length album Shadow and Steel.
Hailing from Maryland, Master Sword combines the influences of power and progressive metal with hard-hitting lyrics, strong female vocals, guitar riffs and melodies to stop the heart, and, of course, The Legend of Zelda.
I picked up the album and spent a night listening to it. No, the album isn’t as long as an entire night. The repeat button was used. Several times. After full immersion into the music, I was hooked, and knew what had to be done. I had to talk to them, to reach out and pick the minds of these brilliant musicians who so eloquently entwined two of the best things in the world: The Legend of Zelda and epic metal.
After a not-so-short direct message on Twitter, I was able to interview Master Sword’s own Matt Farkas, lead arranger, rhythm guitarist, keyboardist, and founder. Here’s how the whole thing went down:
Zelda Dungeon: “Which The Legend of Zelda game has your favorite music, and what about it do you enjoy so much?”
Matt: “Oh, man, such a tough question. I think I’m going to have to give it to A Link to the Past. I love the music from all of the games, but A Link to the Past has such a strong overall score. ‘Hyrule Castle,’ ‘The Dark World,’ ‘The Overworld Theme,’ all the dungeon music, not to mention the introduction of ‘Zelda’s Lullaby,’ and ‘Ganon’s Theme.’ You just can’t beat that.”
ZD: “Which is the first game from The Legend of Zelda that you played? Which is your favorite?”
Matt: “Ocarina of Time was my first. I got it for my thirteenth birthday back when it first came out and was instantly hooked. Afterwards, I picked up all the other released games in the series. It was a busy few months for me.
“As for my favorite? Majora’s Mask. It was a very powerful and emotional game for me, with a darker mood than any The Legend of Zelda games before it, or (in my opinion) since. That kind of thing really appeals to me.”
ZD: “What lead to the decision to form a band off The Legend of Zelda?”
Matt: “I suppose the biggest factor in deciding to make a band off The Legend of Zelda was going to events like MAGFest (Music and Gaming Festival, located near Washington, D.C.) and seeing all the other amazing bands in the Video Game Music community performing. I also realized there was no band completely based off The Legend of Zelda, which really disappointed me. So, I decided to fix it.
“I also took it as an opportunity to bring ideas to the community that few others were doing, like having a ‘70s/’80s metal sound and, of course, being largely vocal-driven.”
ZD: “Who are some of your biggest musical influences?”
Matt: “For me personally, I am inspired by a broad spectrum of music, spanning from the ‘60s to today. Bands like Deep Purple, Rainbow, The Beatles, Iron Maiden, Genesis, and Styx usually top my playlists. I am also into more modern groups like Frost*, Porcupine Tree, Opeth, and Dream Theater. On the Video Game Music side, I’m into Metroid Metal, Descendants of Erdrick, The Black Mages, Armcannon, that sort of thing. Bands like The Protomen and The Megas also influence how I go about writing my own arrangements.”
ZD: “What got you started playing music, both as individuals and together?”
Matt: “I started playing music back in high school, when I got an electric guitar as a present one Christmas. I was getting pretty heavy into rock music at the time, and convinced my parents that having a loud instrument in the house would be a great idea.
“As for playing together, I basically assembled everyone else in the band (starting with Corey Garst back in 2013) using Craigslist and Facebook advertising. We had a few years of non-activity, bit eventually, the group as it is now was started when [vocalist] Lily Hoy heard our music and was interested. Shawn Staub and Andy Stark joined us not too long after.”
ZD: “Which song on Shadow and Steel proved most difficult to put together? Which are you most proud of?”
Matt: “Songwriting-wise, probably ‘Tower of Stone.’ I had a lot of good, concrete ideas for that, but certain pieces were missing from the puzzle for a long time…and we struggled forming it into a complete song. Ironically, it was one of the easier ones to record and mix, so maybe it evened out.
“On the engineering side of things, the most difficult song was either ‘Kiss of the Flame’ or ‘My Destined One.’ ‘Kiss of the Flame’ has so many moving parts that mixing it turned into a long, arduous struggle. We also weren’t happy with some of the recording, so fixing that took time as well. ‘My Destined One’ might be a surprising choice, but recording and mixing purely acoustic music was something I had never done before. There’s nothing to hide behind, so everything has to sound that much better.
“In the end, I am proud of all the songs on the album, because they all have a unique sound and inspiration behind them. If I had to pick a favorite, though, it would be ‘Tower of Stone.’ I feel like all the difficulty eventually paid off, and we got one of our best songs out of it.”
ZD: “Who is your favorite character from The Legend of Zelda to embody in your music?”
Matt: “Something cool that people might not have noticed about our live show is that we try to embody our own unique characters from The Legend of Zelda universe in our stage outfits. We picked five of the six Sages and did our own takes on them. So, I guess my favorite character is myself, but the Forest Sage version.”
ZD: “What’s next for Master Sword?”
Matt: “So much. Our schedule has gotten pretty packed for the rest of the year: lots of shows, planning a new album, maybe a cool collaboration or two? You’ll have to wait and see!
“Our immediate attention is on prepping for our May 17th show with MindMaze and Burning Shadows. We’re finally playing Shadow and Steel in its entirety, so if anyone lives close to Baltimore, we hope you can make it out to see us!”
Oh, we can’t wait, good sir, to see what the future has in store for Master Sword. Until then, Shadow and Steel will continue to be on repeat, at top volume, and very poorly sung along with.
Source: Master Sword (Shadow and Steel Playlist)