With the backing of a successful Kickstarter, video game soundtrack arranger Eric Buchholz and Materia Collective were able to put together Hero of Time, a fan-made album based on the soundtrack of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time which was arranged by Koji Kondo. What makes Hero of Time so special, however, is that the songs in the one hour collection was performed by an actual orchestra: the Slovak National Symphony Orchesta, recorded in the Slovak Radio Concert Hall. The orchestra’s excellent performance and the overall professional production of the album causes Materia Collective’s Hero of Time to turn the video game experience into a live-action movie, allowing players of the franchise to re-live the story through an epic aural cinematic experience.
An epic orchestral album like Hero of Time means there’s massive variety to shift through in the album. You get songs like “Hero of Time,” the album’s opener, that have an uplifting, conquering sound. It starts slow with a gentle, serene display and builds up into a pacey, heroic rush that gives Link the introduction he deserves.
Then you get songs that strike fear and horror. Take the second track, “The Man with the Evil Eyes.” The orchestra does a pretty darn good job painting those evil eyes and filling them with horror, lead by accented drum strikes and shaking high-pitched strings. “Dungeon Dwellers,” the eighth track, delivers a pacey arrangement that gives dungeons those dark and creepy atmospheres filled with lurking enemies ready to take down Link. The eighteenth track, “Ganon’s Tower,” is lead by a raging pipe organ, playing notes to make Ganon out as the big and scary antagonist. The strings do a particularly good job adding pace and adrenaline to the audience as the song continues to present Ganon and his castle.
Hero of Time also delivers more slow and gentle tracks, as previewed in the start of the first track, “Hero of Time.” “Princess of Zelda,” the album’s sixth track, delivers the sound that brings out the beauty of Princess Zelda, allowing listeners to see Zelda exist before their eyes as a real-life princess.
It has a balance in pace, which is driven by the smooth strings. “Memories of the Forest,” the twelfth track, brings a more gentle composition, which mixes beauty and eeriness in this short two-and-a-half minute track.
Then you get songs that are just plain feel-good, capturing the happiness and beauty that Ocarina of Time has to offer. “Hyrule Field” adds more of that sunshine to Link exploring Hyrule in the bright of day. “Castle Town Market” and its arrangement brings out the best of the bustling Hyrule Market when Link enters there, while “Lon Lon Ranch” appropriately takes the laid-back approach, perfectly capturing the lazy mood of the ranch.
There is so much that was put into creating Hero of Time by Materia Collective, Eric Buchholz, the performers, the managers, the engineers, the artists, and the fans, that the end result is exactly what you’d expect in a top-notch fan-made album based on a video game soundtrack. There isn’t any major downsides to note from this album. Hero of Time pulls all the right strings to re-create Ocarina of Time into a live-action movie experience. All you have to do is play this album, close your eyes, and let the music take you away. Or listen while you play the game. Whatever works for you.
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