This is my first review, so I can guarantee it's going to be pretty bad. Not that I care, I just thought it was fair to warn you.
Blind Guardian is one of the most well known power metal bands out there, and with good reason: they are an amazingly talented group of individuals. For those unfamiliar with Blind Guardian's style, they're what you'd get if you mixed the pseudo-operatic vocals of Iron Maiden, Speed and Intensity of Metallica, the catchy chorus's of Queen and ungodly amount of kickass. Formed in 1985 in Krefeld, Germany, Blind Guardian originally went by the name "Lucifer's Heritage". Since then, they've released 10 really kickass albums that everybody should own (especially their later works). This particular album is a concept album of sorts, based on J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy novel The Silmarillion.
Anyways, the band is:
- Vocals/Backing Vocals
- Rhythm Guitars
Thomas 'Thomen' Stauch
Guest Musicians on this Album:
- Bass/Fretless Bass
- Keyboards/Sound Effects
- Grand Piano
- Flute/Alto Flute
Now, onto the Tracks
Note: Some of the tracks on this album are nothing more than short monologues/skits, or short instrumental interludes. While they certainly are enjoyable, there's really no point in reviewing them.
2. Into the Storm (4:24)
After the little intro skit, were suddenly thrust into the Albums first real song. There’s a dong, then the opening riff comes in like a swift kick to the nuts (which is a good thing in a musical context). On this track we’re introduced to the vocal harmonies and catchy hooks that are part of Blind Guardians signature sound. There’s some very melodic lead work near the middle of the track, which works very well. A very high-energy track.
4. Nightfall (4:35)
The polar opposite of Into the Storm, this is a nice power ballad from BG. At first I didn't like it, but now I love it! Blind Guardians songs are always well crafted and arranged, and this is no exception. It is, simply put, a masterpiece of music! From the haunting flutes, so Hansi's dynamic vocals (the man can sing like an angel, bark like a hell beast and do everything in between) to the brilliant lead work, everything flows and fits together to create one absolutely brilliant song!
6. The Curse of Feaner (5:41)
Another song that has grown on me. More dynamic vocals and lead work! Andre Olbrich's use of lead guitar is very unique. Instead of just playing shred-solos, he plays melodies almost the whole song. Also, his solos are amazingly crafted, being a series of melodies and harmonies instead of just scalar runs and wank. Also, this song has some of my favorite lyrics ever.
8. Blood Tears (5:23)
Blood Tears starts off with an almost hypnotic sounding intro. It begins with an acoustic guitar (with some weird echo effects), some keys and Hansi's unique voice. The whole thing feels quite laid back, having an almost 'dreamy' quality to it. At the 0:57 mark, the electrics and drums come in and things get heavier. At the 3:00 mark we get another brilliant guitar solo from Andre. A great track, but nothing compared to.
9. Mirror Mirror (5:07)
My favorite song, not just off this album, but off all time. There's a rather restrained intro, with some nice keyboard/guitar harmonies. Then, the vocals come in and everything gets kicked up a notch. The chorus on this song is really good (it has officially replaced Run to the Hills as "the song with my friends when we are wondering around aimlessly"). The lead work on this is really upbeat and catchy, in the fact this whole song is rather up-beat, even by power metal standards. The guitar work on this song always have off an almost 'renaissance-ish' vibe, which is really cool. I really can't say enough about this track, everything about it is absolutely breathtaking!
97/5 (And no, that’s not a typo)
11. Noldor (Dead Winter Reigns) (6:51)
A slower song, and at 6:51 the longest one on the album. More progressive sound than the rest of the album, but I still dig it :). I can't say I like Marcus's clean tone though. Oh well. There's a cool use of synths on this track, and some weird vocal effects. A good song.
13. Time Stands Still (At the Iron Hill) (4:53)
Another great track! The intro slowly builds up with some keyboards, into what is one of the coolest riffs/leads on the album. Hansi's vocals really add to this track. He uses some interesting tones that emphasis the lyrical themes (especially the 'Slowly in fear' part). Lyrically, I believe the song deals with Fingolfin riding alone to face the Dark Lord Morgoth. If I’m not mistaken, and I may be, he lost the battle, but managed to inflict seven wounds, and basically turned the Morgoth from an ominous death-bring to a limping coward (I don’t think he ever fought again after that).
15. Thorn (6:18)
A more somber song. Starts off slower, than it explodes into a heavier section, then it goes back to the softer parts again near the end. Nothing really makes this track standout form the rest, but it’s still a good song.
16. The Elder (3:39)
A ballad, this song features only a moody piano and Hansi’s vocals. It’s a very melancholy track that has a lot of emotion to it. Very similar to Black Chamber from their album Somewhere far Beyond, only this one is much better.
18. When Sorrow Sang (4:25)
A faster, more aggressive song. It’s more speed metally than most of the songs on this album, which makes for a nice change. Catchy chorus (on of the best on the album), more amazing lead work, tight rhythm work, what more is there to say?
21. A Dark Passage (6:01)
Heavy, yet oddly upbeat at times. Another slower song, but still great! Lyrically, the song deals with the 5th battle. Morgoth was fighting the Elves, and won only because the humans came and betrayer their Elvin brethren, or something like that. The song sounds oddly upbeat for such sad lyrics, but the song is still great. The outro seems kind of out of place and weird though.
Wile song are stronger than others, all the songs on this album are worthwhile. There are some amazing power metal tracks on this album. One of Blind Guardians best, an album that will surely become a classic. I suggest everyone check it out. You won’t be disappointed.
FINAL SCORE: 5/5