Even before the game was released, the original Legend of Zelda soundtrack was noteworthy (pun very much intended): Composer Koji Kondo had initially slated Ravel’s Boléro as the intro theme, only to find out, at the last minute, that Japanese copyright law would now allow it. To replace Ravel, Kondo had to compose a new intro—in a single night.
What resulted is the now-famous NES theme, the first in a long line of memorable Zelda tunes. In the 35 years since, the franchise has received awards for its soundtracks, including, much more recently, Breath of the Wild, which won Best Audio at the Game Developers Choice Awards in 2018.
Though Nintendo has released two different trailers for the 2023 installment Tears of the Kingdom, there aren’t many details available beyond that. While we wait, you can relive the adventure of Hyrule by checking out these five off-the-beaten-path covers, for some Zelda with a metal twist:
1. “A Symphonic Metal Tribute to The Legend of Zelda” by L-TRAIN
Billed as symphonic metal, this Zelda medley includes music from Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess, The Adventure of Link, and Majora’s Mask, as well as a few recurring themes, such as the fairy fountain theme and the Song of Storms.
In terms of faithfulness to its source material, this tribute sticks close to the original scores. It’s a great sampler for players nostalgic for the Ocarina of Time era.
The transitions between songs are seamless—a feat that’s even more impressive considering that this medley has a 12-plus-minute runtime. Though that sounds like a long time, this cover runs through 17 different Zelda songs, which means those 12 minutes pass by awfully fast.
Of particular note is the fairy fountain theme, starting at 4:04—though it gets really good at 4:31.
2. “Zelda Ocarina of Time – Gerudo Valley (Power Metal Cover)” by Gamer Shredding
No list of Zelda music would be complete without a Gerudo Valley cover. It’s a popular song within the franchise, and it even made the series’ 25th anniversary CD, which came as a bonus with the original release of Skyward Sword. If you’re into musical analysis, you can watch YouTuber Save Data tease apart the original song’s influences and roots—and why, exactly, it’s so good—here.
There are a lot of fantastic Gerudo Valley covers, including Machinae Supremacy’s 2-million-view video, but Gamer Shredding’s cover stands out due to its piano opening. The piano arrangement returns again at the end, which creates a nice bookending effect.
Though Gamer Shredding’s cover is faithful to the original score, it also takes a few liberties. It’s a risk that pays off and makes the song more memorable than it would’ve been had it stayed too close to Ocarina of Time’s soundtrack.
If you’re looking for a new song to add to your running playlist, this version would be a great choice!
3. “Legend of Zelda (metal cover)” by Jaden Phoenix
Like L-TRAIN’s cover, Jaden Phoenix’s arrangement runs through a few different Zelda songs, including the main theme, Zelda II’s Palace Theme, and Ocarina of Time’s Kakariko Village theme.
Though these themes—and their differing tempos and moods—might not seem, at first glance, to belong together, the transitions between the melodies are great. The energy in its earlier songs, such as the main theme, progresses nicely through the Kakariko Village theme, which, tempo-wise, is slower and a great place to wrap up the medley.
This cover also gets special mention for having one of the best listener comments. Written by user E Insignia, it reads: “There is enough metal in this to build a full suit of Darknut armor.”
4. “Zelda – Song of Storms Metal (Perfection)” by Josh Sweetman
Ending a video title with “Perfection” is a bold move, but with nearly two million views, Josh Sweetman’s Song of Storms cover might live up to its claim.
This cover is five minutes long—which is a long runtime for a song that, in its original form, has only 11 bars. Despite this, the cover doesn’t feel repetitive, thanks to the use of special effects, new riffs, and instrument solos, such as the focus on the drums beginning at 0:36. Put together, it all holds your interest.
The outro, which begins around 4:15, is somewhat lengthy and fades out slowly. The longer outro provides an interesting juxtaposition to the speed and energy of the rest of the cover.
5. “Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – Saria’s Song Metal Guitar” by Charlie Parra del Riego
Saria’s Song might not be at the top of your “Most Wanted Metal Covers” list, but Charlie Parra del Riego’s version has an energy to it. Be warned, though: It’s short. The full runtime is just over two minutes, and he doesn’t switch to the metal guitar until 0:31.
What this cover lacks in runtime, though, it makes up in originality. Like Gamer Shredding’s Gerudo Valley cover, Parra del Riego puts his own spin on this arrangement of Saria’s Song, starting with the arpeggios around 1:30.
Saria’s Song isn’t Parra del Riego’s only Zelda cover, either. He’s also arranged Zelda’s Lullaby, among nearly 100 other gaming, anime, and pop culture songs (including Call of Duty’s zombie theme and Dragon Ball Super).
There are a lot of covers out there to explore. What are your favorites?
Natalie Schriefer often writes about pop culture, sexuality, and identity. Say hi on Twitter @schriefern1.