Nowadays we all think of Blind Guardian
as one of the most crazy, OTT, grandiose bands Power Metal has ever seen, and even if you don't you really can't ignore releases such as Nightfall In Middle-Earth
or A Night At The Opera
. Before BG started to stretch the boundaries of Metal however, they were a relatively straight-forward Speed Metal band - basically a mixture of 80's style Thrash and Power Metal. This is well exemplified on the two albums before this, but here, Tales From The Twilight World
is the album where BG started to become complex: the song structures started getting unconventional, the backing vocals got numerous, and the guitars layered - this is why Tales...
is frequently named the transitional album; BG going from a basic Speed Metal band to the insane Power Metal machine they would become.
As this is very much the transitional album for BG, it obviously isn't as strong as the albums where they'd fully found and developed their Power Metal sound (Imaginations...
, etc). The sound here is like that of the two previous albums promptly injected with huge Uriah Heep
style backing vocals and some epic Helloween
style song structures. While the songwriting on here generally scores, it fails at points simply because Andre and Hansi weren't such experienced songwriters at the time (especially with integrating the new Power Metal sound, which was luckily fixed on the amazing Somewhere Far Beyond
), which is understandable, although does hinder the record overall.
In terms of classic BG, there's definitely some to be found here. Opener 'Traveller In Time' is a wicked six minute BG Power Metal assault which due to its unconventional structure and amazing choruses doesn't feel six minutes long at all. 'Lost In The Twilight Hall' features a haunting atmosphere and a fantastic vocal duel (Kai Hansen with Hansi), while closer 'The Last Candle' is the perfect epic ending for such an album, having a chorus and outro that will be stuck in your head long after the record has ended. Tracks 'Goodbye My Friend' and 'Welcome To Dying' are very solid, and this album features the band's first ever ballad, 'Lord Of The Rings', which is a nice break from the Metal atmosphere of the rest of the album.
As good as the aforementioned songs are though, they aren't without their flaws. The main problem here is many of the songs try too hard to keep the listener's interest, but considering their length and structure, some parts end up dragging. This isn't the case with songs such as 'The Script For My Requiem' on later releases, but it's certainly prevalent on tracks such as 'Traveller In Time' (the solo section doesn't seem to click), 'Lost In The Twilight Hall' (unnecessary guitar solo after vocal duel, some riffs dragged out) and 'The Last Candle' (feels like it has one too many choruses) on this album. Some tracks simply aren't that ambitious, such as 'Goodbye My Friend' 'Welcome To Dying', which is good and bad I suppose. Some songs simply don't end after their final chorus, and while it works on 'The Last Candle', it makes 'Welcome To Dying' (while the outro solo isn't necessarily bad) drag on. Finally, although it's an extreme rarity for BG, some parts of songs sound samey, such as the second verse of 'Welcome To Dying' being hard to distinguish from parts in 'Lost In The Twilight Hall'.
In terms of band performance it's good as expected. Thomen's drumming is fast and repetitive yet oddly satisfying (although not as creative as what he'd do on later albums), Andre's leads precise and melodic, Marcus' rhythm guitar patterns simplistic and fast and Hansi's voice powerful and slightly rough. Hansi does show off some more melodic singing on 'Lord Of The Rings', which is very strong and fitting for the song. One small flaw instrumentally is the backing vocals. Marcus and Andre harmonise with Hansi on every chorus, while a plethora of people (exclusive backing vocalists, people from other bands, producers) contribute the rest of them. Lots of them sound slightly too high pitched and relatively tuneless, but they get the job done well enough overall.
This is a very interesting album if you're a BG fan and want to see how their sound came about, and it contains 3 classic BG tracks, but if you're new to the band I'd recommend releases such as Somewhere Far Beyond
or Imaginations From The Other Side
simply due to the higher quality material within. Still, Tales From The Twilight World
is definitely an enjoyable listen for Power Metal fans.