Masters of the Universe: Revelation
Masters of the Universe: Revelation, the new Netflix animated series from celebrated filmmaker Kevin Smith, continues the saga first popularized in the 1980’s by the Mattel toys and comic books, and the Filmation animated series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. The series is a love letter to this classic era, designed to be nostalgic for fans like me who grew up with the characters forty years ago, and to also appeal to our children, who will enter the fictional world of Eternia for the first time. Revelation serves as a direct sequel to the classic saga by preserving the beloved character designs and occasional goofy one-liners. Simultaneously, the show expands the narrative horizons by raising the stakes, heightening emotional character arcs, and exploring darker themes. The producers reached out to me to craft a musical score that could support this ambitious show.
MEMORIES OF MOTU
I was born in 1979, near the cut off of the generation of kids who would grow up with He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. When I was a young child, He-Man and Star Wars were my first fantasy worlds. Though Star Wars was written with more narrative sophistication, I could visit Eternia every day as the Filmation series bombarded the airwaves. (This is before Netflix, kids. We watched what was on!)
I was entranced by the superheroic power fantasy of He-Man, the evil skull-faced Skeletor, and the comedic sidekicks Orko and Cringer. Any shortcomings from the show’s simple writing and bare-bones animation flew over my head. The toys were truly awesome (Ram Man and Battle Cat were first!). I recall blowing my friends’ minds on the schoolyard, when I told them that Prince Adam’s mom, Marlena, actually came from our own planet Earth!
I emerged into adulthood with an engrained nostalgia for these characters. During my college years at USC, I was given an assignment in counterpoint class to write a canon in the style of Bach, and so I composed “The Grayskull Canon,” a contrapuntal vocal work in which I sang my melodic lines to the opening text of the classic animated series! My friends in the dorm thought it was hilarious. My composition teacher rolled his eyes, but I got the voice leading technically correct, so I got an A!
Despite a well-liked reboot series in the early 2000’s (that I missed), Masters of the Universe lay relatively dormant in mainstream popular culture while contemporaries such as Transformers and G.I. Joe got the big budget cinematic reboot treatment. Sadly, I suspect most people younger than me only know MOTU from the memes.
THE REVELATION BEGINS
Masters of the Universe would remain a distant memory for me until early last year. During the first months of the pandemic lockdown, I got a call that Kevin Smith and Mattel’s Rob David wanted to meet with me to discuss the possibility of me scoring their sequel series, Masters of the Universe: Revelation. In an instant, my imagination exploded, almost violently, as if those deep-rooted memories of He-Man were a powder keg in my brain. I knew immediately what I wanted a He-Man show to sound like. The only thing I needed to know was if the producers would let me get away with it!
I have been a longtime fan of Kevin Smith’s work for over twenty years, having emerged into adulthood watching his various View Askewniverse films and reading his comics. About five minutes into our first meeting, I felt like I was chatting with a friend. Of course, the purpose of our meeting was actually for them to determine whether or not to hire me on their show. There comes a point in every such meeting, when we talk shop, and I usually initiate this by asking potential creative partners about their vision for the project. It shows you’re a collaborative person when you ask questions, like “Tell me about your vision. What do you want to do?” However, I cut to the chase.
“I think this score should be epic, symphonic, and completely serious. I want to write music that sounds like Basil Poledouris collaborated with early Metallica to score Conan the Barbarian, with a little Heavy Metal ’81 thrown in. I want to write the score that sounds like what our memories of the show feel like. If any of that scares you, then I’m not the composer for you.”
There was a brief pause, before Kevin looked me in the eye. “You just said the magic words.”
And then he started singing the theme from Conan the Barbarian. Not just the iconic Main Title drums and brass – no, he jumped right to the soaring string line that forms the theme’s bridge. This melody is the part of the Conan Main Title where Poledouris tells the audience this movie is about more than just violence and brutality. The soaring strings tell us we’re about to watch a romantic myth, told in the sweeping language of classic Hollywood epics. I immediately started singing the theme along with Kevin. In that instant, I understood that Kevin and I were on the precise same wavelength. When we got to the end of the melody, I said “Well, Kevin… I think I have to score your show now.”
DEVELOPING THE MUSIC
I was hired early on in the animation process, and given a couple episodes in rough animatic form, as well as scripts for the rest. That was more than enough for me to grasp the narrative ambition. Woven behind the spectacular action set pieces were resonant character arcs, exploring deep themes of identity, abuse, parenthood, resentment, and forgiveness. I was equally inspired by the intimate dialog scenes as I was the epic battle scenes. My task was to develop a musical language that could guide the audience through these concepts, while still allowing the youngest audience members to enjoy the adventure on a surface level. After lengthy discussions about themes, characters, and season-long arcs, Kevin and Rob gave me creative freedom to write the score.
Our first question to tackle was whether or not to include the classic theme song or score from the 1980’s Filmation series. I adore that theme song to this day, and it remains one of the melodies from my childhood that is burned into my brain. Nevertheless, I struggled to square it with the material I had in front of me. That theme contains an inherent innocence and playfulness that is at odds with the more grown-up story in Revelation. Furthermore, for me and my generation, the melody is like an atomic nostalgia bomb. There is no way to use it subtly, because it triggers our memories instantly, often distractingly. I felt this series would be better served by honoring the feeling of the old cartoons without actually referencing its music in any way. As it would happen, contractual roadblocks surfaced that made the old music unusable anyway. So, I was free to charge ahead and craft something original from scratch. (A similar situation occurred with my score for the 2004 reimagining of Battlestar Galactica. As the show went along, opportunities surfaced to quote the classic 1970’s theme song. So… who knows? Never say never!)
I knew MOTU:R would need original themes, the only question was… how many? After much thought, I realized the only approach that would work would be for each character to have their own theme. With each character represented by a unique musical thumbprint, I could help the audience keep track of all the twists and turns in the story.
I’ve scored several series that ultimately needed many character themes, most notably Battlestar Galactica, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Outlander and Da Vinci’s Demons. However, “The Power of Grayskull,” the opening episode of Masters of the Universe: Revelation, is unlike any first episode I’ve ever scored before. Here, the audience is thrown immediately into the thick of a huge, climactic battle between He-Man and Skeletor over the future of Castle Grayskull. I realized I wasn’t actually scoring the first episode of a show. I decided to tackle it instead like I was scoring the series finale of the classic saga from the 1980’s! I pretended I had been scoring the old show for years, using my original themes the whole time. Suddenly, everything clicked into place. As each character appeared in the first episode, I could quote their theme briefly, as if the audience had heard these melodies dozens of times before. I was writing the “thematic development” section of a symphony without getting to start with “the theme.”
The only way to pull this off was to write all the themes for the entire season at once, and have them fully fleshed out before I composed even a second to the footage. So, I spent two months drafting melodies, grooves, rhythmic concepts, and harmonic progressions, trying to whittle my ideas down to a core group that might last the entire season. (At that time, this was a huge task, but I’m laughing at myself as I write this blog, because I’ve just started a new project that requires a substantially larger number of themes out of the gate! More on that another time.)
Once I finished the MOTU themes, I began to score the ten-episode series, a journey that would take about eight months. I hope that the resultant score is what I set out to achieve: a soaring, highly thematic work built first as a symphonic, orchestral piece, but one supported by an arsenal of percussion and a modern, propulsive, heavy metal rhythm section. This is not a retro score, nor a throwback to the 1980’s: I wrote this as a modern score, that just happened to draw inspiration from the themes and sounds of that era.
I composed with the “repeat viewer” in mind. Musical themes are often presented in subtle, nearly subliminal ways, meant to guide one through the drama without intruding. However, my goal was that second viewings of the show might reveal how deeply layered and tightly knit the music actually is! My first hint that I succeeded actually came when showrunner Kevin Smith remarked to me as we worked on later episodes that he re-watched the mix of the first episode months after we finished it, and only then realized that Evil-Lyn’s Theme appears, albeit briefly, multiple times!
THE MAIN THEMES OF MOTU
[SPOILERS FOR FIRST FIVE EPISODES AHEAD: ] My use of themes in scoring is often literal, and never more than in the case of Masters of the Universe: Revelation. When a character or concept is on screen, or even the subject of discussion on screen, the score quotes their theme. Themes adapt and evolve as the characters change. When multiple characters are in conflict, their themes smash together dissonantly. These ten episodes include about five hours of music, and nearly every second quotes thematic material directly relevant to the events on screen. For those curious about the themes, here is a breakdown of the primary and secondary themes featured in the score.
He-Man / Prince Adam Theme
This theme is as close as the series gets to having a “Main Theme,” though technically it ties specifically to Prince Adam and his alter-ego, He-Man. There are no shades of gray to his morality or intentions, so I wanted to support him with music that suggests pure goodness, heroism, and strength.
His theme is often introduced with a rhythmic ostinato (a repeating musical pattern) in the low strings, doubled by drop-tuned electric guitars. This riff is definitely the most “metal” component of any primary theme!
From there, He-Man’s main theme bursts forth as a fanfare, often in soaring brass and trumpets. Listen for this melody notably during the opening narration and iconic transformation sequence in the first episode.
I wanted a heroic theme that could also work in a plaintive, wistful variation. This concept is featured prominently throughout the first five episodes, most notably in the mournful end credits of the first episode, where a solo horn offers a lonely version of Adam’s theme, evoking a bugle call at a military funeral.
While that powerful melody is heard most often, as the theme’s A Section, the He-Man Theme also has a less-frequently heard B Section.
This section of his theme is pure fanfare, built from exciting trumpet phrases that modulate upwards, pumping up our adrenaline. This B Section is featured prominently during the transformation sequence, when He-Man bestows power unto Cringer, turning him into Battle Cat. When you hear this part of the theme, you know the action is about to get intense!
He-Man’s Theme encapsulates everything I wanted this score to be, and as such, I knew it had to be the first sketch I showed showrunner Kevin Smith. The first two cues I tackled were the opening narration and the transformation sequence. These cues are a bold swing. I did not shy away from either the epic orchestration or the drop-tuned heavy metal sound, resulting in a weird mishmash of the two genres. I sent demo videos to Kevin and waited on pins and needles. After about twenty minutes, I got my reply. Not a text, not an email… but a reaction video.
I responded to Kevin with my own reaction video (which you can see a glimpse of in the video above). And thus began our creative collaboration that took place entirely in pandemic lockdown, where we bombarded each other with late night texts, emojis, and reaction videos. Frequently, we’d geek out for so long that I’d eventually have to stop and ask him “So… wait, do you want me to change anything in the score?”
Kevin’s notes were always in the spirit of making the show even more thematic. He has the ability to zero in on small moments where I’d papered over the action with intense music. Kevin would ask if we could insert quick moments of the Man-At-Arms Theme, or the He-Man Ostinato. He has an incredibly musical ear, and he could not only identify the themes I quoted, but he possesses the musical imagination to ask for themes in places I had neglected to use them. I came to rely on him not just as a showrunner, but as a true musical partner, someone whose opinion made my music better. These are the types of creative relationships composers live for!
Whereas He-Man’s theme represents pure goodness, his thematic opposite, Skeletor, required a theme equally pure, representing only evil and megalomaniacal narcissism. Skeletor’s Theme is built on a swirling low string and bassoon ostinato, inspired in part by Mussorgsky’s “Night on Bald Mountain.”
This repeating pattern is meant to set the stage that something wicked approaches – the darkly melodic Skeletor Theme.
I frequently represent heroic characters with large intervals, leaping in a generally upward trajectory, and villainous characters with smaller phrases swirling around a relatively small cluster of pitches. (Soundtrack fans could likely make a drinking game out of this while listening to my work, as long as they are prepared to get utterly smashed!). I know I’m at the risk of relying on the same musical tropes over and over, but these techniques just work so damn well, especially for supporting pure characters like He-Man and Skeletor. Their themes both fit this mold perfectly.
Skeletor’s Theme blasts forth in the low brass, twisting around the tonic note in unpredictable ways, never making any leap even as large as a fifth. The unexpected qualities are not restricted to intervals, however. The theme is built in a mixed meter. After his ostinato grounds itself in a solid 3/4 , the melody interjects occasional bars of 4/4. These asymmetrical intervallic and rhythmic ideas underscore Skeletor’s inherent crookedness: twisted music for a twisted soul.
(On a personal note, my Skeletor Theme was my second opportunity in as many years to write a theme for a character voiced by Mark Hamill, the legendary actor behind Luke Skywalker and the voice of the Joker for my generation. Mark and I collaborated on 2019’s Child’s Play, for which his Chucky sang my “Buddi Song.” When I told him I was writing a theme for his Skeletor, we jokingly schemed about the possibility of another musical collaboration, but alas, as of this writing, don’t hold your breath for any singing Skeletor moments!)
Teela, voiced with gritty realism by Sarah Michelle Gellar, has a more expansive character arc than either He-Man or Skeletor in Masters of the Universe: Revelation. As we meet her, she is promoted to the rank of Man-At-Arms, presiding over the royal guards of Eternia, taking over from her father. Her soldiers are quickly called into battle to defend Castle Grayskull. During this conflict, Teela’s heroic actions are supported by the Man-At-Arms Theme, essentially making her thematically indistinguishable from her father, because she is a daughter happy to follow in her father’s footsteps.
I was careful to never state her theme until she removes her tiara at the end of the first episode, after learning that everyone she ever loved had lied to her about knowing Adam’s secret. At this crucial moment, as her character arc truly begins, we hear her theme for the first time.
Unlike the He-Man and Skeletor Themes, Teela’s Theme undergoes a massive evolution across the series. In the closing moments of the first episode, she’s angry, hurt and overwhelmed with bitterness at the discovery that everyone she trusted lied to her. I wanted to write her a theme that could reflect these emotions, and gradually shift it to become more heroic as her story progressed.
One of my longtime orchestrators called me during the production of the first episode’s score, and he commented on the unexpected harmonic progression supporting a downward moving, ominous melody, and proclaimed it one of my most interesting “villain” themes yet! In that moment, I knew I had captured her bitterness and loneliness, as she leaves behind everything she ever knew and everyone she ever loved.
With the backstory established, “The Poisoned Chalice,” the second episode, really functions like a traditional television pilot in that it establishes Teela as our protagonist, sets up her motivations and, at its conclusion, gives her a quest.
This episode is where the score truly establishes her musical voice. As her face is first revealed, after defeating Stinkor, we hear our first version of her theme where the anger has dissipated. The harmony has been restructured to be a bit warmer. Throughout the episode, her melody is frequently accompanied by rustic folk instruments, including nyckelharpa, acoustic guitars, and hammered dulcimers. These new colors underscore her break from her father, as they are the polar opposite of the epic orchestral brass and pounding heavy metal colors used to score his action scenes.
Teela’s Theme evolves more than any other over the course of the show. Bit by bit, orchestral colors return to her theme, as she reluctantly gathers a ragtag group of heroes and antiheroes to save Eternia from the death of magic. These orchestral variations culminate in an especially soaring Teela Theme moment during “Land of the Dead,” the fourth episode, where she overcomes her fear. Here, the theme is set in soaring French horns and violins, above cascading inner strings lines and sustained choir, while the harmony has been revoiced into new, unexpectedly romantic major chords.
Whereas He-Man had a musical counterpart in Skeletor, Teela has a musical counterpart in Evil-Lyn. The Evil-Lyn theme is the most emotionally ambiguous, drawing from elements of heroic and villainous themes. Her melody is often preceded by a bed of dark, swirling strings playing the Evil-Lyn Ostinato.
This ostinato suggests a twisted character, filled with swirling inner turmoil, and yet when her melody finally enters, it soars with a lyrical expression usually associated with heroic characters.
The Evil-Lyn Theme, featured frequently in a solo cello, orchestral celli or bassoons, sits atop surprisingly gorgeous harmonies, including a luscious minor IV chord with an added six. I needed a theme with rich emotional potential because it had to work equally effectively when she appeared from a portal to blast our heroes with a nasty quip, or when she sat down with Orko and revealed her true, vulnerable emotions. (I was inspired to write yet another plaintive theme for Lena Headey, after composing her titular theme for Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles over a decade ago.)
The Man-At-Arms Theme is musically related to the He-Man Theme in that it is also relatively pure – an unambiguous triumphant fanfare. Though tonally related, their themes are impossible to confuse, because the Man-At-Arms theme begins with downward moving melodic lines (similar to his daughter, Teela) in contrast to He-Man’s heroic, upward leaping introductory notes.
The Man-At-Arms theme is rooted above pounding heavy metal rhythm section and urgently chugging symphonic strings, a groove with an almost mechanical quality, underscoring Duncan’s mastery of technology. Duncan is a burly warrior and adventurer, ideas I occasionally reenforce with syncopated rhythms and upward-ripping horns that evoke nostalgic colors from Jerry Goldsmith’s Planet of the Apes and John Williams’ Raiders of the Lost Ark.
I had fun with the Man-At-Arms action moments, but his theme really comes to the fore during the emotional scenes, most notably in the third episode, “The Most Dangerous Man in Eternia.” Here, I lean heavily on his melody to evoke his crushing regret that he withheld secrets from his daughter. Perhaps my favorite variation of this theme occurs at the emotional climax of this episode, when Teela finally forgives and embraces her father.
The Sorceress Theme
One of the most important musical themes in Masters of the Universe: Revelation is one I wrote to represent both a person, The Sorceress, and a concept, that of Castle Grayskull, even magic itself. I felt that one theme could unite them because, as the guardian of Grayskull, the Sorceress is the personification of magic. Her theme is often heralded by swirling orchestral strings, fluttering around in rapid arpeggios, evoking her fluttering wings as she flies in bird form.
Where the ostinato flutters, The Sorceress’ Theme melody lingers in the air, evoking nobility tinged with regret. Her melody is often featured in solo woodwinds, such as an English horn or oboe, or ethereal violins and female choir.
I constructed her theme in such a way that it reveals more about her character the longer it goes on. The first two phrases are all about magic – augmented harmonies and lyrical leaps give it an ethereal, divine quality. This part of the melody tells us she is more magic than human. However, her second phrase makes an unexpected modulation, ascending into a satisfying minor IV chord (the seventh and eighth bars in the excerpt above). I designed her theme this way, knowing that the audience would never have the chance to hear it in full at first. As the series went on, I found more and more opportunities to let extended variations of the Sorceress Theme play under various scenes, and almost like magic itself, that satisfying minor IV chord kept landing on just the right moment to underscore her inherent vulnerability and humanity.
No character presented a greater musical challenge than Orko, because no character undergoes a more dramatic onscreen transformation. This series introduces him as the same comedic buffoon as he was in the classic era, and from there, we begin to care about him, aided immeasurably by Griffin Newman’s childlike voice performance.
I needed a musical theme that supports Orko’s first appearance, a classic “annoying sidekick comedy” beat. To accomplish this, I leaned heavily on a light classical approach, with bouncy strings, solo trumpet, solo woodwinds, and loosely-related major chords. It feels like something out of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf – playful and innocent.
Orko’s transformation into a heroic character begins in the first episode, when he appears and deflects Evil-Lyn’s magic to save Man-At-Arms, teeing up a multi-episode relationship where he bonds with the sorceress. Here, we get our first example of the heroic Orko theme variant, with full choir and orchestra blasting his melody. By replacing the solo instruments with large orchestral sections, I hope that the audience subconsciously internalizes that his theme is the same.
In the third and fourth episodes, the Orko Theme takes on yet another huge leap, as we realize the little Trollan is slowly withering away without the magic of Eternia to fuel his life force. I reshaped his child-like tune harmonically to play a bittersweet, crushing sadness. This builds up to the most triumphant variation during his final moments, sacrificing himself to save his friends.
THE SECONDARY THEMES OF MOTU
While those themes are the most significant to the score, several others play prominent roles even in less frequent occurrences.
Randor / Marlena Theme
After Prince Adam’s surprising sacrifice in the first episode, Teela and Man-At-Arms meet with his parents, King Randor and Queen Marlena, to give them the terrible news. Here, a lonely solo cello offers the Randor and Marlena Theme.
Their theme evokes a regal formality, masking a vulnerability, even a crushing pain. The solo cello was recorded in the large hall with the rest of the orchestra – where the sound of a single instrument resonating in a massive room creates a feeling of distance.
Battle Cat Theme
Perhaps He-Man’s most famous ally is his ‘fearless friend,’ Cringer, the cat who transforms to his mighty steed Battle Cat. Battle Cat’s Theme is primarily a color, built from pounding taiko drums, dumbeks, dhols, and taiko rim hits that together provide a syncopated, tribal intensity.
The Battle Cat Theme can be accompanied by an upwardly ascending set of parallel chords in the French horns that provide a sense of heroism and loyalty. The theme can be heard briefly on a few occasions during the first episode’s battle sequence.
Beast Man Theme
In this series, Beast Man serves a similar role to Evil-Lyn as Cringer serves Adam, that of loyal friend who would die for the person he protects. To reflect this similarity, the Beast Man Theme is a dark counterpart to the Battle Cat Theme, built from similar tribal percussion, playing an equally propulsive pattern, with his own angular brass fanfare. This musical similarity augments their connection when they face each other in battle.
The Beast Man Theme also features grunting male choral vocals, and is accompanied by an improvised Asian bamboo flute solo, providing an exotic, non-orchestral quality.
Tri-Klops / Motherboard Cult Theme
In the second episode, Teela and her friend Andra find Tri-Klops, now the ringleader of a cult that worships technology and despises magic. With Henry Rollins (for whom I last wrote a theme on a film called Wrong Turn 2 almost fifteen years ago!) bringing a rebellious tenor to the character, I wanted his music to sound unlike anything else in the score, so I rendered the Tri-Klops / Motherboard Cult Theme entirely with electronic and metallic instruments.
The theme is a hypnotic, chant-like pattern, built from resonant metallophones, including Balinese gamelans and vibraphone. Beneath that, distorted analog synth arpeggiators provide a texture completely alien to any other sound in the score.
As Teela assembles a group of adventurers to help her on her quest, she finds an ally in Roboto, an artificial life form built with Duncan’s memories, voiced with a mechanized warmth by Justin Long. As the audience meets him, we first hear the Roboto Theme.
While this theme is only featured twice, once at the character’s introduction in the third episode, and again at his demise in the fifth, it nevertheless makes a big emotional impact. In both scenes, Roboto emphasizes his humanity, so I wanted his theme to suggest that this mechanical man has a human heart at his core.
In the third episode, our heroes confront Mer-Man and his gang of Aquaticans. Time has not been kind to Mer-Man, as he now sports a scar across one eye and the distinctive baritone of legendary voice actor Kevin Conroy (Batman himself, across many series and games). As I first watched the scene where Mer-Man speaks with Mark Hammil’s Skeletor, I was giddy when I realized I had been given a “bucket list” opportunity to score a scene with both the voice actors responsible for Batman and the Joker! I knew Mer-Man would need a theme.
Mer-Man proclaims himself worthy of taking over the entire universe, but the series never frames him as a threat of that magnitude. So, I approached his scenes with the music he thinks he deserves, without suggesting he’s really that powerful. The Mer-Man Theme is ominous, built around tritones featured in low brass and reedy, low woodwinds. It plays a little bit like a cheap knock-off of the Skeletor Theme, by design.
Scare Glow Theme
In “Land of the Dead” our heroes confront Scare Glow, a skeletal Hades-like figure, voiced with a pitch-perfect growl by horror legend Tony Todd. I wanted to surround his husky gravel with deep male choir, evoking horror classics of old, notably The Omen, by Jerry Goldsmith.
Scare Glow’s theme is built from dissonant harmonies, announced instantly by the low male vocals singing the classical “devil’s interval,” the tritone. Still, I found the effect was not as creepy as I had hoped. Then, I remembered an old production technique from classic heavy metal records, and I doubled the choir with my own voice – not singing, but simply whispering the same text. I found the inclusion of my own voice, mic’d incredibly close, created a subtle ‘ASMR’ effect, because the sound feels like someone is leaning in close to your ear. I hoped this breathy effect would help the audience feel that Scare Glow was in the mist swirling around them, and make him all the more terrifying.
TRAILER AND SOUNDTRACK
Fans frequently ask composers “Did I hear your music in the trailer?” and the answer is almost always “no.” So, I was surprised and honored when Netflix asked me to score their big story trailer for Masters of the Universe: Revelation. This gave me the opportunity to introduce fans to some of the most important musical themes before they even saw the show!
I also composed custom end credit music and title cards for each episode. My goal here was to create a seamless, symphonic experience for viewers who decided to binge the show. Each episode’s end credits sequence flows musically into the title card of the next episode’s title card, creating a smooth musical journey.
Perhaps my favorite such transition comes at the end of the fourth episode, after Orko’s shocking death, and the reveal of Adam in Preternia. I invited my wife Raya Yarbrough (who has sung all the permutations of the Outlander Main Title) to perform a haunting, melancholy version of the Main Theme. Her text is actually “By the power of Grayskull, I have the power,” translated into Latin. Raya’s voice echoes away seamlessly into the title card for the fifth episode, which picks up in the same key with floating, melancholy strings and a solitary French horn solo.
This seamless musical flow is perhaps best experienced on the soundtrack album. I’m excited that my score is available now on all digital platforms, including Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon, with a physical CD release coming later this week. This album is a fantastic way to relive the adventure, and to hear even more of the theme interactions. It rocks pretty hard, so I’d recommend turning it up to 11!
1. Masters of the Universe: Revelation (Extended Version) (1:55)
2. Skeletor, Lord of Destruction (1:12)
3. Orko’s Bubble (0:39)
4. Sorceress Under Siege (4:18)
5. He-Man Transforms (1:32)
6. The Power of Grayskull (13:19)
7. The Mighty Motherboard of Tri-Klops (4:41)
8. As Goes Eternia (5:47)
9. Finding Duncan (6:55)
10. Scare Glow, Lord of Subternia (10:26)
11. Evil-Lyn Opens Heaven’s Gate (5:22)
12. Lament for a Friend (feat. Raya Yarbrough) (0:48)
13. Into Preternia (3:30)
14. Teela Joins the Wild Hunt (4:52)
15. Roboto Reforges (4:34)
16. From Man to God (8:42)
Masters of the Universe: Revelation may very well be my most symphonic and simultaneously most metal work to date, and I am grateful to everyone who put their trust in me, especially the brilliant Kevin Smith, whose inspiration and personal leadership made this one of the most rewarding creative experiences of my life.
I’d also like to thank Rob David and everyone at Mattel, especially Wendy Guin, Susan Corbin, Andrea Carpenter and Andrew Goodman, as well as Ted Biaselli and everyone at Netflix for making all of this possible. Thanks are owed to the incredible team at Powerhouse Animation, especially directors Adam Conarroe and Patrick Stannard. Of course, huge thanks are always owed to Joe Augustine for his tireless work on the soundtrack album, and everyone at Kraft Engel Management for their guidance.
It takes a village to produce a live orchestral score of this magnitude and deliver it ten times in a row on an animated series budget. I owe fabulous secret powers revealed to my entire support crew at Sparks & Shadows, especially Omer Ben-Zvi who played guitars and electric bass, and contributed killer additional music in the back five episodes, as well as Bailey Gordon, Brian Claeys, Jesse Hartov, Marisa Gunzenhauser, our tireless orchestrators and music prep staff, Tutti Music Partners, engineer Ben Sedano, mixing engineer Ryan Sanchez, re-recording mixer Shaun Cunningham and everyone at Salami Studios, promo video producer Alec Siegel, as well as the talented musicians of the Budapest Scoring Orchestra and Choir, under the batons of conductors Peter Illenyi and Zoltan Pad, and to legendary Icelandic singer Sigurjón Kjartansson for bringing his iconic bass vocals to the Main Title introduction. All your talents combined allowed us to pull off a sound that rivals projects with ten times the production budget, and I am eternally grateful.
Lastly, I would like to thank all the artists and designers at Mattel who worked in the late 1970’s and 1980’s to create the original Masters of the Universe concept. What may have simply begun as a venture to sell toys nevertheless resulted in a fictional universe that has lasted decades in the imaginations of people who grew up with them. The toys and cartoon from that era had a profound impact on my young imagination, so much so that decades later I was able to draw upon a deep well of inspiration I had not even realized was there, buried in my foundational memories. I am grateful to be able to contribute back, in a small way, to this fictional universe. Perhaps, if I’m lucky, forty years from now, there will be grown adults who look back fondly on Masters of the Universe: Revelation and find inspiration of their own.
Here’s a fun behind-the-scene video! I wanted to have a serious conversation with Kevin Smith about the score… and instead we ended up just singing goofy lyrics to the musical themes!