Hi everyone! My name is Mary, although some might know me better as Syl from Battle Bards where I’ve been co-hosting the world’s first and only MMO music podcast for the past three years. Since soundtrack is an essential part of the MMO experience, I am very happy to join the excellent MMOGames team with a biweekly column dedicated to great music from a wide variety of titles. You can expect me to cover soundtrack old and new in no particular order, highlighting standout tracks and favorites as well as talking about composers. I hope you’ll be along for the ride and ready to discover the beautiful world of MMO music with me. And always remember: Every time you turn the music off while playing, somewhere a fledgling MMO project turns to dust!
Blade & Soul originally launched in Korea summer 2012 but it took this MMO another three and a half years before reaching the western market. After Japanese lead composer Taro Iwashiro produced the possibly most well-known original album, also referred to as “The Story”, two more soundtracks followed over the next years composed by various artists. These no less excellent works have been released under titles “The World” and “Silverfrost Mountain” respectively. Unfortunately the names are frequently mixed up on forums and Youtube and it can be bewildering for players outside of Korea to make sense of album order and titles due to missing translations. While all three soundtracks have been available as hard copies at one point, the best ways to acquire the music for Blade & Soul are currently Itunes and Amazon which offer full albums at a reasonable price.
Overall the music of Blade and Soul has a lot to give and comes with a variety that should appeal to many people. Whether you are a fan of uplifting and whimsical tunes or prefer powerful and epic pieces, there’s something to discover for everybody. Naturally, one can also hear the Asian influence in some of the more flavorful tracks, yet Blade & Soul follows what I would call a universal high fantasy approach for its music more than a folkloric one, unlike for instance Age of Wushu which sticks much closer to tradition.
Without having played the game myself, I was still able to get invested in the music and imagine exciting scenarios or beautiful zones it may accompany. A strong soundtrack never leaves its audience indifferent; it will either move you and bring you to tears, get your blood pumped for action or cheer you up and make you feel at peace. I have experienced all of the above emotions while listening to Blade & Soul which is surely everything one could hope for.
Five Picks for an Introduction to the Music of Blade and Soul
When introducing someone else to a new MMO soundtrack, which has been something of a calling of mine for many years, I like to direct them to what I consider my top five picks. As tastes wildly differ, this is no guarantee that it will win the other person over. It is however a good starting point for creating interest while also allowing me to showcase some variety. This means that I may include picks for the sake of a more complete picture and not just my absolute favorites but you may rest assured those will make an appearance too. Without further ado, here are the five tracks I chose for Blade & Soul newcomers out there:
1. Title / Intro Theme
The original intro theme for Blade & Soul has been a long-standing favorite of mine although I almost ditched it to present you with the no less wonderful Fly Into the Sky as my first pick here. It is not often that MMOs will start off with melodies as heart-wrenching as this intro but I don’t mind deviations from the rule. Every time I listen to it, I imagine overlooking a combat field at the eve of battle with the full force of the devastation and senselessness hitting me. That’s some deep stuff, right? Maybe someone manages to conjure up a lighter scenario than me.
2. Little Shepherd
A big fan favorite, Little Shepherd is basically your perfect track. This whimsical, uplifting and cheerful tune will instantly charm you and make you whistle along with its merry flute. The track was crafted to accompany the Lyn race in the game, Blade & Soul’s cute and slightly furry animal people. I am not a sucker for big ears and tails in MMOs usually but I can absolutely appreciate the Lyn’s flavor of music. A very similar track in terms of mood is Cheerful Festival, so be sure to check that one out as well if you enjoyed Little Shepherd!
3. Black Pirates
A more divisive track maybe than that last one, Black Pirates hits off with an uneasy edge that I’ve always appreciated. However, the gloomy and foreboding air is soon transformed when the track springs to life after the first transition and turns into an epic piece of storytelling. There is a moment or two where a distinct Pirates of the Caribbean reference comes through. Who are the Black Pirates and what are they after in the game? I am ready to be educated!
4. Things We Lost
Featured in “The World” soundtrack, Things We Lost is a pensive and more introspective title than most of the tracks included in the impressive 85 tracks long album. Quieter tunes like this one carry their own magic and should never be underestimated. If you hang in there, you may hear a story unfold that tells many a tale of loss and reminiscence. There are times when I enjoy more atmospheric tracks for the general mood they inspire.
5. Twisted Power
Last but not least, I would be amiss not to also include a track from “Silverfrost Mountain” that showcases the rockier side of Blade & Soul with yes, electric guitars! Among the 51 tracks of this third album a nice variety of combat and boss music can be found for those who prefer more fast-paced action. If you preferred the other tracks so far however, don’t be alarmed: “Silverfrost Mountain” also caters to the serene and quiet moments as well as the slightly goofy and whimsical.
Would I buy? – Yes!
Who is it for? – Everyone!
I hope you enjoyed this introduction to the music of Blade and Soul. With a complete soundtrack that’s over 150 tracks long, it is impossible to include even half of my personal top tracks. You may have noticed me cheating here and there, including extra tracks in the commentary. I am sure there will still be readers sorely missing what they consider personal highlights.
It would also be wrong to expect the entirety of the soundtrack to keep up the same consistent standard; for every great piece of music, you will probably find two tracks that are only “okay” or less so. That still leaves us with around 50 good to great tracks which marks Blade & Soul as a formidable MMO in my book, with plenty of choice and variety of flavor. Let me know what your favorite picks would have been in the comments and stay tuned for another Bard’s Tale here at MMOGames in two week’s time!Related: A Bard's Tale, Blade & Soul, Column, Music, Soundtrack