Review Summary: Blind Guardian’s third release is THE classic Speed Metal album; taking the strengths of Battalions of Fear, Follow the Blind, and Helloween’s Walls of Jericho to create the most underrated Blind Guardian release (and best) of their career.
Grandiose, epic, and bombastic all describe Blind Guardian in the modern day, but before albums like A Night at the Opera, Nightfall in Middle Earth, or At The Edge of Time, there was Tales From the Twilight World. Easily the “black sheep” of the Bards’ discography, the album most clearly demonstrates the musical shift from aggressive Speed Metal to melodic, epic Power Metal by putting a heavier emphasis on melodic choruses instead of adrenaline-pumping riffs. For this reason, this album is one of the heights of their universally beloved musical career; combining power and melody into one album for fans of both styles to love.
The album’s Speed Metal influence is most prominent on “Welcome to Dying,” and “Goodbye My Friend;” both providing very fast-paced metal that is similar Helloween’s early years with Kai Hansen on vocals, or Metallica’s debut Kill ‘em All. The dark, more guitar-based atmospheres create heavier and much faster-paced songs, and are paired well with Kursch’s belting of “Welcome to Dying,” in the chorus of the song of the same name. Though these are the biggest examples, these influences are highly prominent throughout the album, affecting every song to some extent (with the exception of the ballad “Lord of the Rings”) and conceiving one of the heaviest Power Metal albums in its time.
The Power Metal elements are highly obtrusive on the songs book-ending the album, with sing-along choruses and unorthodox song structures. “Travelers in Time,” in particular, opens with the harmonized vocals that Hansi Kursch would be famous for in his later years; a chant of “The Morning Sun of Dune” awaiting the listener as the album opens on their own travels. “The Last Candle” opens in a similar manner; with a melodic chant of “Guardian, Guardian, Guardian of the Blind.” Both songs contain incredible choruses, using melodies that are some of the best the band has ever made. Just try to not sing along to “The Last Candle,” the singing in this song is infectious. Though melody is an important piece of this release, it should be known that even these songs contain thrash-like riffs between the melodic choruses and chants that set these songs apart.
Despite the album having high tendencies of both Speed and Power Metals, there are a few interesting examples of the band branching out into new directions. “Lord of the Rings,” a song titled after the book series, is the band’s first ballad, and would later lead to “The Bard’s Song (In the Forest),” “A Past and Future Secret,” and “Skalds and Shadows.” The melodic elements of this track are a welcome change of pace from the aggression that emits from the 9 others; such as the fantastic blend of Power and Speed Metals known as “Lost in the Twilight Hall.” This anthem contains much competency amongst the band members; with fantastic solos from Andre Olbrich and an incredible vocal duel with Hansi Kursch and none other than Kai Hansen, of Helloween and Gamma Ray. The chorus, in usual Blind Guardian fashion, is top notch, and the incredible performance by Thomas Stauch solidifies him as one of the strongest drummers in Power Metal by a mile. If any song can describe this album, it would be the 6 minute burst of musical melody and rage which could rally millions.
The only issue that some fans should be wary of is the diversity of the album. If you are listening to this album for the first time, you would likely find it difficult to differentiate songs like “Goodbye My Friend” from “Tommyknockers.” The tracks might take a listen or two to start becoming diverse for whoever may listen; but when it does, it is one hell of an album. The entire album is something that any fan of Power Metal should listen to; containing enough anger and thrashy riffing that could rival Kill ‘Em All while containing melodies and fantastic singing that would put many other Power Metal bands before or after to shame. Combining the vocal pipes of Mr. Kursch with the aggressive playing of Andre Olbrich and Thomas Stauch, it is no wonder that this is one of the best-rounded Speed and Power Metal releases of all time.