Blind Guardian- Follow The Blind
Ah power metal, the fairest of metal sub-genres. Known for high pitch singing, blistering guitars and sometimes rather cheesy lyrical content. Many people find this genre looking for excellent musicianship, not knowing what they are getting themselves into, because once you listen to your first power metal album, there isnít much hope of turning back. Itís a vicious, vicious circle.
Thatís what happened to me, anyway. That first dose of power metal heroin got me hooked. I first found blind guardian looking to broaden my horizons; I was getting bored of mainstream metal and was looking for something accessible. And compared to death or black metal, this was it to me.
But however, what I didnít realize at the time was that this isnít when blind guardian was at its power metal climax. This was back when they were still a thrash band toying with different lyrical ideas and techniques. Not that this was that bad.
A couple of tracks sound a lot the same, which was my first real issue with this album. This isnít to say it hasnít got killer riffs and soaring vocals, itís just saying those riffs and vocals get rather repetitive after a while.
Enough of the ranting, itís time for the track by track breakdown.
Ah yes, this is when many people realize what theyíve gotten into. Just like the monks chanting, power metal is very much so a religion. And this is the first thing you hear when you walk into that ďchurch of power metal". (Thatís right cheesy intros get cheesy reviews).
Banished From Sanctuary-
Yes! So starts the heavy metal assaults, the guitars on this song are amazing. Break-neck rhythms with blistering leads on top, what more could you ask for? Oh, you want singing too you say? Well there is plenty of that too. Hansiís soaring voice takes charge, but you can still hear the whole band singing backup which is always a killer thing to hear on any metal records.
Damned For All Time-
This is a song where you can really tell they were undecided between power and thrash metal. This song is pure speed, for every instrument. And Hansiís vocals take a turn for the lower, more spiteful tone. And the riffs donít get much better on the album. Thereís even a guitar duel, ferchristsakes and if there is one thing these guys can do pull off amazingly, itís guitar duels.
Follow the Blind-
Thatís right, itís title track time. You can tell by the choir in the background on the intro and the following acoustic guitar that this is going to be an epic song. This is where they kick back into power metal mode. The slow, crushing guitars and slower, more melodic leads give this song a feeling that makes you just want to get up and headbang all over your home.
Hall of the King-
Okay, here is where it starts to get slightly repetitive. Itís another thrashy song, with gang vocals and all. (The gang vocals are the best part of this song) the rest of it sounds a lot like the other thrash songs on the album, which is okay for a few listens but it prevents me from putting this album on time and time again. It still has the killer solo and weird hammer sounds near the end, but thatís their undeniable (and better sounding) power metal sides showing.
Fast To Madness-
Sigh, power metal takes a backseat to somewhat decent thrash yet again. Itís an odd combination as this song progresses though, it slowly turns into thrash instrumentation with power metal vocals. I thought this was a nice effect and a cool redeeming quality. Oh yeah and thereís the obligatory shredfest midway though the song but that should be expected.
Beyond The Ice-
Some pretty nice drumming opens this one up. Just from the melody near the beginning, you can tell this is going to be a power metal song, but it still has thrash undertones. Not to mention, itís entirely instrumental! And we know what this meansÖ KILLER GUITARS! If the band needed more than the past 5 tracks to prove that they knew what to do with a guitar, this would be it. This is one of the only songs on this album that get regular play by me, other than another certain songÖ youíll find out what that one is soon enough though.
Lyrically, this is a power metal song. Musically, itís also a power metal song. This is always nice, especially because itís nice to hear Hansi show off his skills after the other guys got to do the same in the previous track. And this is one track I cannot help but sing along to during the chorus. Itís just so damn fun. Another nice solo but jeeze, the whole shred thing gets kind of repetitive after every song having a huge guitargasm.
Donít Break the Circle-
You know what this song reminded me of the first time I heard it? Glam metal. The guitar melody at the start, followed by simplistic lyrics, luckily itís not all that it seems. This song is one helluva a song to headbang along with. Long enough for a decent amount of disorientation, but not long enough for a migraine and a severe case of whiplash. This is the band doing thrash right, pure speed and fast singing without compromising the quality of hansiís voice.
You know how I spoke of only 2 songs on this album getting regular play? This is number 2. DO I play it because I like it? No. Do I play it because I canít find the beach boys version? Maybe. But more importantly, does it bug the hell out of anyone in the area? YES! This song wonít have an impact on the albums rating, simply because it was a joke and it would be rude to take this down to a 1 because they butchered a Beach Boys song. Yes, even if they deserve it.
Pros- Amazing guitar, soaring vocals and great tracks to sing along to
Cons- Repetitive, even thought Iím sure there are many small things Iím not picking up on it just gets boring after a while.
Itís a fun listen to now and then, but it shouldnít be taken seriously and is EASILY eclipsed by their later work.