Review Summary: A solid shot at making a come back from one of power metal's premiere bands
Power metal is often a touchy subject within the metal genre, or at least for some. Many people have difficulties comprehending why a band feels the need to include so much unnecessary guitar noodling that adds nothing to a band's sound. Others find the lyrical content about fantasy *** such as dungeons and dragons to be too repetitive as many bands reuse concepts. One name that seldom gets dropped when discussing the bad things about power metal is Blind Guardian.
This band is one of the most enduring in the genre, dating back to 1988, and have put out nine studio albums to date. They are often considered to be among the best out there and have tendencies to include a lot of symphonic work alongside a heavy but down right enjoyable sound. Imaginations From The Other Side and Nightfall In Middle Earth stick out as being their strongest material but their latest album, At The Edge Of Time, does not shy away from containing wonderful compositions either.
Coming off of the back of the rather lackluster A Twist In The Myth, 2010's studio album from one of the flagship bands of its genre is a very good release with a lot to love about it. This album contains two epic songs that last for a long time and never stop being amazing all the way through. Wheel Of Time and Sacred Worlds are numbers that make heavy use of the symphonic side of the band that they are supposedly toying with the idea of using for their entire next album. These two mammoth-lengthed tracks also provide some of the highlights of the album and are the strongest works here. Perhaps it was only right to open with one and close with the other.
Both of the aforementioned epics guide the listener on a journey that is very exciting and enjoyable with numerous dips and rises in pace and heaviness, but the other songs are also strong enough. War Of The Thrones is a much slower paced song than many would expect from a band such as this but serves to break up the flow of the album and give a much more interesting pacing to it than many of its contempories within the band's own discography. The drum performance on this song is rather incredible but throughout the whole album it is probably the best thing about it. There are numerous fast double bass sections and a lot of snare use without ever threatening to abuse that particular piece of the kit.
Hansi Kursch is the one real let down for this release. Whereas on other Blind Guardian albums he has put in performances that range from excellent to stellar, on here he feels a little tired. He has his moments on The Wheel Of Time and Curse My Name but for the first four songs in particular he lacks any sort of range and power behind his voice. It just feels as though Hansi has been in the metal industry for far too long now despite his best moments on Wheel Of Time. The lyrics are also a let down on here. They follow the same fantasy-ridden template that the band used on other albums but they lack any of the ingenuity they previously had.
At The Edge of Time is the sound of a band that has pushed themselves to make a great album following the low point of their career and succeeded with a great drum performance and numerous songs that best display the band's dynamic and often shifting style of music within their sound despite the fact it is marred by vocals that occasionally border on being abyssmal.