Blind Guardian // At the Edge of Time
2.5/5.0 —Some shimmers of glory, but not a total return
Label: Nuclear Blast (EU | US)
Websites: |
Release Dates: EU: 30.07.2010 | US: 08.24.2010

Blind Guardian is easily one of the most unique bands that modern metal has ever encountered. I really do think that they are one of the most original acts to ever come out of any scene, sub-genre or crevace within the greater history of metal. Combining bay area thrash influence with a German power/thrash legacy and sprinkling liberally with Queen, this German act has been at the forefront of power metal and progressive metal since Imaginations from the Other Side (for sure, and probably even before that). Few bands in metal command the kind of insane loyalty from their fanbase and few bands ever deserve that kind of loyalty, frankly. Even for me, personally, Blind Guardian was one of the bands that really got me exploring modern power metal. I picked up Nightfall in Middle-Earth and my life was forever changed. That record still ranks in my top 10 of all time, easily.

But, while the universe has few laws (Kepler, Newton, Joule, you know the drill), Angry Metal Guy’s Law of Diminishing Recordings is definitely in full effect with this majestic guardian of the blind. This law is pretty simple. No matter how good your favorite band is, eventually they will start to suck for one of two reasons: 1) They run with the same sound for long enough that it begins to get tired and every song becomes interchangeable and/or uninspired or 2) They change, and it pisses you off. I cannot think of a single band who has not produced some crap, and even if they get better again, eventually they produce a whopper (or two) and it never lives up to those early records that you love so much and that made them unique at the time. The scientific foundation for this is, of course, quite simple: prove me wrong. Unfortunately, A Twist in the Myth, the previous Blind Guardian offering from 2006 was utterly disappointing and that was as a follow up to an at least marginally disappointing A Night at the Opera. So, the question coming into this is “Can Blind Guardian produce a record in their current formation with the same kind of breadth and complexity as Nightfall in Middle-Earth while maintaining the memorability and honesty of Imaginations from the Other Side?”

At the Edge of Time opens on a pretty good note, actually. The track “Sacred Worlds” starts in and really illustrates the sound of modern Blind Guardian than almost any other track on the album: it’s subtle to begin with, violins fluttering on one side and then  the other and a slow build putting the instruments into the whole thing nice and slow before starting into what is a pretty good mid-paced track with a fantastic chorus that is really classic Blind Guardian. But as the album creeps forward from this epic start (9 minutes for the first track) the quality of the first track isn’t really maintained. “Tanelorn” is a fantastic look back in time to when the band actually produced tracks that weren’t ridiculously overdubbed, but the chorus is a bit throwaway and feels pasted onto what is otherwise a fantastic thrash metal track (not that it’s a bad chorus, mind you). But aside from “Ride into Obsession” (which also sounds a lot like it could be on Imaginations from the Other Side), “Curse My Name” and the last two tracks on the album, everything else just seemed to be lacking that x factor that these guys had in spades before.

What stands out for me about this record more than anything else, is how the most successful material on here is the stuff that’s really stripped down and old school Blind Guardian. Everyone knows that they’ve got their own studio and spend tons and tons of time on arrangements and choirs, but what I find to be the most incredibly motivating and undeniably good aspects of this record are the ones that harken back to a time before they became addicted to multitracking. To when their music was honest and simple but catchy and awesome. “A Voice in the Dark” does this for me, as does “Ride Into Obsession” and “Tanelorn”. However, as I already mentioned “Sacred Worlds”, which is very heavy on orchestrations, is also a fantastic song, as is “Wheel of Time” which (while those books are fucking horrendous) shows that the band can really blend their thrashy power metal into over the top orchestrations and pull it off. The melodies in both of these and the orchestrations as well, are perfect. “Wheel of Time” probably walks away from this record as the finest track on the album. It’s epic, with amazing feel, groove and guitar solos that scream “Blind Guardian is awesome!!” while they’re playing.

But while the album has 5 awesome tracks that I’m totally smitten with, the whole thing actually has 10 tracks. Among the disappointing tracks are just some really ridiculously uncatchy music as though the muse of inspiration was only hitting it home 50% of the time. “War of the Thrones”, for example, (great books, btw) is a banal track with a chorus that doesn’t fit the mood of the books at all (so. fucking. happy.). “Valkyries” is another one that just lacks awesome and lags behind the other more excellent tracks on the album. And it’s a shame, because this record is clearly better than A Twist in the Myth but it still seems to this Angry Metal Guy that Blind Guardian isn’t firing on all cylinders and that the Law of Diminishing Recordings is full in force for them. And that’s a shame, because I want this album to be amazing. I want to be awed like I was in the past and I’m not. But I would suggest that fans of the band check this record out, because there will be things on here that you appreciate—just don’t expect it to be Nightfall, Imaginations or Somewhere Far Beyond.

Share →
  • Matt

    Wow your an idiot.

  • Zadion

    I think that this is more of a matter of opinion. While I do agree that Blind Guardian’s old music is great, I absolutely love their multitracking effect. A Night at the Opera is not only their best album, but (in my opinion) one of THE best albums in metal. (And I have over 300 albums.) The overdubbing is at times a little old, but they pull it off very well.
    On the other hand, if you’re not into the overdubbing effect and just prefer classic metal, then I can understand this opinion quite well. Regardless, Imaginations and Nightfall were solid items. But so were ANATO and ATITM.

    Judging from ‘A Voice in the Dark’ and the 30 second samples, I’m convinced already that this album will meet up to my expectations and more. Of course, I’ll see on the 30th when it comes out.

  • Tommyknockers

    Of course,opinions are like the ass,everybody has one and anyone else’s stink.

    You say Night the Opera was bad?,Well,saying this,im convinced that you dont know how to enjoy beyond metal,as a matter of fact,you cant even enjoy metal,ANATO was and it one of the best metal albums.
    And now,this next album,I’ve listened and it is better than Nightfall,and better than Somewhere Far Beyond,I said.

    • First, shame on you for pirating. Some fan.

      Secondly, this record isn’t nearly as good as A Night at the Opera, Nightfall or Imaginations.

      And I said, actually, that A Night at the Opera was mildly disappointing, which it was because it was the follow up to the best record they ever wrote.

  • GeorgeTheDude

    A Night at the Opera really was mildly disappointing. I agree about the 5on5, although I kinda like Valkyries (shame on me for pirating too :\ I’ll buy the album as soon as it comes out though, I always do ;p). And about them not working on full cylinders… well they’re old guys now after all, so we should understand the lack of imagination and creativity (only in some places of course) after all these ears I guess ppl always start looking at things differently. Sry for the long comment :) good review otherwise! Cheers!

  • Danielle

    Personally , I adore Night at the Opera. It’s the reason I started listening to Blind Guardian. It also seems, by the other comments that I’m no the only one that thinks that it is there best album. His voice is amazing (in the newer stuff) which is what I love the most about the music. And by the way, Twist in the Mist did not disapoint all. Its the CD I have listened the most I believe. Just cause you dont like the direction they are going in doesnt mean all BG fans feel the same. Maybe most of us like it even.

  • jf

    Anyone thinks they forgot Andre’s lead track ?

    The furious leads of BG are gone on this album.
    I loved BG for that, no crappy solo’s, but crazy leads all songs long.

    I totally agree 100% with this reviews, 5 great tracks, 5 crappy.

    This is far better than Twist in the myth.
    They lost me there.

    Been a BG fan since the start.

    • Ha, now that you mention it you’re right. The leads on this album weren’t the best. I still think, though, that it’s the loss of Schtaub (the old drummer, I think that’s how you wrote his name). Change up the writing dynamic and it’s bound to affect the overall production of the band, right? I mean, it’s gotta.

  • Guy

    Every Blind Guardian fan will probably disagree with you when this album comes out. I loved ANATO and A Twist in the Myth, so if this album is better than those then I am in for a real treat tomorrow.

    • As a Blind Guardian fan, I care to disagree with you. And did you read the comment just above you? Or the other comments? Or the comments on People are not actually super stoked about this record. Half good half bad. That’s how it goes.

      Hope you enjoy it, though.

  • Jason

    For me, Blind Guardian has been the one band that is immune to the law of diminishing records. I’ve noticed that many of Blind Guardian fans are more straight thrash guys and anything that’s not fast and 4/4 all the time with blazing solos isn’t worthy of BG. With each passing album BG has been refining their compositions and taking them to the next level of complexity and feeling. So at first when I saw you’re score of 2.5 stars, I was a bit nervous. As soon as I heard you found their two previous albums to be disappointing my fears were quenched. My only remaining concern is that they’re trying to relive their thrash roots too much. I want forward progression, not backwards!

    • I’d like to clarify again that I’m not at all a “straight thrash guy”. While straight, I find a lot of trash to be annoying and boring. I like Blind Guardian because they have successfully bridged the gap between thrash, power metal and progressive music. Mind you, I also said that A Night at the Opera was mildly disappointing (because compared to the record that preceeded it, it was not as good and I think most will agree that in retrospect it was pretty overproduced). So I like Blind Guardian’s style and complex music. I just think that 4 of the songs on this record are not so good, one is OK and 5 are great.

      You may notice that two of my favorite tracks on the album were heavily orchestrated. Also take note that what I said was not “I like it better when they play old school trash,” I said “The material feels fresher and more honest,” i.e., some of the material feels forced.

  • Jason

    Each is entitled to his/her own opinion so there really is no perfect “review”. However, it was helpful for me to gauge what you consider your favorite BG albums in relation to this one. ANATO and ATITM are two of my all time favorites, so if I am hopeful that I’ll love this album. Nightfall is the album that got me into BG in the first place and I think my problem is that I listened to it too much when I got it. I understand why most fans use that as the measuring stick though. They just seem to change their sound with each album and I really admire that. The other thing that made me think I’d have a different opinion of this new album from you is your comment about “A War of Thrones” being too happy. Not a problem for me! What’s a BG ballad if you can’t sing it in a tavern cheerfully, even if the content is depressing? :)

  • jf

    There is one other thing about BG…
    The more you listen to it the better it gets.
    IFTOS is the perfect example, there is so much in between the lines there, each time you listen, you hear something new, something not there, something magic.

    I’ve been listening to the new CD constantly the past days, and I gotta say, they did it again, the songs get better, the melody creeps deeper in me.

    So my rating is actually going up day by day.
    Still, some songs are weak for BG.

    Personally, starting from ANATO through ATITM, it’s the overall sound that kept me away, everything souds *synth* like, even the choirs.

    Or maybe I haven’t listen to em enough :)

    Each BG album is somewhat different and that is why they are who they are, compare them to Therion, wich is another pioneer band, they do the same, each album a new direction, no stagnation.

    I still think on this new CD, the lead guitars are way too shy.

    Who doesn’t know by heart the leads of Mirror Mirror or Imaginations…!?!

  • MeteorFallChris

    I understand the review’s points. After Curse My Name, the next three tracks just kinda…drop off. They’re really A Twist In the Myth-ish. They aren’t bad. But they don’t grab me like every other track on this album does. So I’m giving three weak tracks, instead of five as the review’s opinion.

    But I’m absolutely in love with the rest of the album. I think Curse My Name and Road of No Release are wonderful pieces, Tanelorn, Ride Into Obsession, and A Voice in the Dark just rip, and Sacred Worlds and Wheel of Time…well, those two speak for themselves.

    This will be in my cd player for several weeks to come, I think.


  • Jacob

    Nice review. First time posting on this blog.

    I share your view that Nightfall in Middle-Earth is Blind Guardian’s masterpiece, but you write like there’s some kind of shared consensus which agrees with you. From my experience talking to fellow BG fans, people tend to fall into three categories: 1. The early fan (pre IFTOS), 2. Fans who share our view that NFIME is the greatest album, 3. The Night at the Opera fan.

    I haven’t done an official survey or anything, but I get the sense that there is a huge segment of BG fans who worship ANATO as much as I worship NFIME. I’ll never get why but I’ll also never pan it. I just can’t buy your Law of Diminishing Recordings when it comes to Blind Guardian. Just because YOU don’t happen to like something doesn’t mean the proverbial fire has somehow dimmed or that a record lacks inspiration. If it was so uninspired ANATO would not have the die hard following it enjoys. My friend literally listened to that cd EXCLUSIVELY for like two years.

    In my opinion Blind Guardian’s entire catalog is littered with hits and misses. In fact, I don’t think there is one cd besides Nightfall which was entirely solid (as in every track was worth listening to). This includes IFTOS which I think is highly overrated. And yet, even if I only liked half the songs on these albums, I STILL think they were AWESOME taken as a whole. Why? Because NOBODY does it like BG. Five great tracks from a BG album will sound NOTHING like anything else out there; therefore, I do not understand how you can claim that 50% of the album is ridiculously awesome and then still give it 2.5 out of 5 stars. I feel like I might have given the exact same review of the album (though I haven’t listened to it yet)but given it a higher ranking. Five great BG tracks out of ten certainly warrants an above average rating.

    Just saying. And I love your work.

    • Yeah, I think that there does seem to be a concensus that Blind Guardian’s best days are behind them. Though, there’s hardly any evidence to back me up except for my buddies and others that I’ve talked to. Most of the time when fans drop off they tend to just disappear quietly, not hang out and bitch on forums and (except for Iron Maiden fans, they tend to feel entitled to awesome albums and they bitch loudly and often).

      I agree that BG is littered with hits and misses, but I disagree that the standard for the band should be a higher score for 5 uninspired tracks. To be honest, if I really didn’t like half of another band’s record, I’d probably pan it straight up, or give it a lower score. But because I *like* Blind Guardian and *want to like* Blind Guardian, I gave them an even split. 5 good songs of 10 = 1/2. 2.5/5.0 = 1/2. See how I did that there? (Yay simple math!)

      I have met very few people who don’t think that either IftOS or NFiME (or ANatO) are Blind Guardian’s best stuff. However, I have yet to really find anyone (including the band) who thinks that A Twist in the Myth was a really great record that lived up to their earlier stuff and not only that: but have you ever met anyone who thinks that it’s their favorite?

      That said, yeah, Blind Guardian is different and they do great stuff. But just because a band has done some great stuff doesn’t mean that you should cut them slack when they produce mediocre material.

      Thanks for reading! I’m glad you like this blog though I’m a little bummed that you don’t think my word is law. Apparently this world domination via blog thing isn’t working out quite as I’d planned. ;)

      • Jacob

        Ranking systems are arbitrary, but I just don’t think that it’s fair to ever rank based on a simple ratio of good and bad songs. That’s just me, though.

        “I have met very few people who don’t think that either IftOS or NFiME (or ANatO) are Blind Guardian’s best stuff.”

        Me either, but ANatO was two releases ago, and I think it’s way too soon to say that Blind Guardian has lost anything. I was slightly disappointed with A Twist in the Myth, but I think this album is definitely a step up (managed to give it a couple spins since my last post). I agree that some tracks are better than others, but I disagree that five tracks are shit – that’s unfair.

        I’m actually very impressed with the arrangements so far. The skeletal structure of the songs themselves are reminiscent of Tales From the Twilight World (my second favorite BG album as it were), and the elements from ANaTO and TiTM work better here.

        Solid release and will probably grow on me even more.

        I look forward to reading your future review of the Final Frontier where you’ll, no doubt, shit all over Maiden too ;)

        Seriously, though, despite my criticisms, your blog is an enjoyable read. At least you know your genre and give a shit, which is more than I can say for 90% of reviews I read online.

        • It’s true that ranking systems are arbitrary (by definition they have to be). But that said, I’m not saying these songs are shit: but I wouldn’t listen to them again. They’re not nearly as good as the rest of the CD or the CDs before them.

          And let me also say this: I think that it’s very easy to say diminishing recordings because they’ve already recorded a record that nobody likes very much. What’s more to say? Definitive proof!

          Also, for the record, I like late Maiden. I don’t always agree with the Maiden fanbase as a whole about these things (I like Blaze era Maiden, for example), but the two songs I’ve heard from The Final Frontier have been not so hot. And I loved A Matter of Life and Death (just so you know).

          • Jacob

            Every band is allowed a “miss” every now and then. Let’s not forget, Iron Maiden recorded No Prayer for the Dying after Seventh Son (their best record). And they’ve gone on to do amazing stuff since then. I think we owe to to Guardian to give them the benefit of the doubt. Then again, I am an extremely bias fan of theirs.

            Eldorado was “meh”, liked the Final Frontier video but song was also “meh”. However, I have heard promising things from the preliminary reviews I’ve read. Maiden doesn’t disappoint me often, so I’m reserving judgment.

            I also enjoyed a lot of Blaze era Maiden. In fact, I think that X Factor was a very decent record. I still blast Sign of the Cross, and Edge of Darkness on the reg. Virus from Best of the Beast is also an overlooked Maiden gem. Virtual XI, however, was pretty disappointing, but still contained a few good tracks (Clansman, Educated Fool, Futureal). Mediocre by Maiden standards, though.

  • CJ

    First off: great site and great review!

    However, I slightly disagree with what you say. I do agree with you that it is a parabolic album; its quality dips in the middle. You think they’re bad songs, I think they’re definitively weaker… but not bad.

    I do like the same songs as you though, my favorite being the first and last. But as you said – just don’t expect it to be Nightfall, Imaginations or Somewhere Far Beyond.

    Here’s my review for those of you who want a second opinion:

    Anyways, sorry for the lengthy comment. Great site, keep it up!

  • Zadion

    I feel I can give an appropriate comment having listened to the album over a dozen times now.

    In my opinion, the album is definitely a solid hit. As many others have said, the middle tracks do wane a bit – but the question is, does that make them bad? As far as I’m concerned, no. The only tracks I didn’t like when I first heard them were Curse My Name, Valkyries, and Control the Divine. Control the Divine has went on to be one of the better songs on the album (IMO), while I recently acquired an appreciation for Curse My Name as well. That leaves Valkyries as the only weak track, and that’s not even to say it’s not good.
    I think that the thing with this album is that it takes several listens to really appreciate the sound. Only the opening and ending tracks really stand out on the first listen. But I’d have to say it’s one of my favorites – possibly even right under A Night at the Opera. I’d give the album an 8/10. One thing I noticed with Blind Guardian’s music – this album most of all, perhaps – is that you can appreciate the sound of the music FAR better when reading the lyrics with the song.

    I’m a bit surprised that so many people say NIME is their best album though. I love the fact it’s a concept album, and the lyrics are very well written, but musically…it’s not a real hit to me. It’s great, yeah, but I’ve heard better.

    Ah well. A Night at the Opera is still insanely epic.

  • Darren

    I totally agree with everyone who said that the album loses its way towards the middle – by Control the Divine I’d almost switched off. The early energy of the album just kinda dies a little.

    I wonder whether I’d feel differently if I listened to the songs in a different order – certainly with Sonata Arctica’s Reckoning Night, when I took out track 2 and 4 from the playlist suddenly the album seemed to flow a lot better for me.

  • Jacob

    Finally really gave the album the attention it deserved. The middle tracks are different than the songs they are sandwiched between, but I do not think they’re any less inspired.

    War of Thrones, for example, is described as “banal” by AMG which is just a horrible adjective to describe the song. It’s simply not metal, which is probably why it loses a lot of people. I think it’s a great song, though.

    Only weak-ish track on the album, in my opinion, is Control the Divine. Other than that, this is the freshest album to come out of the metal scene in a while.

    • No, I think “banal” was the perfect adjective.

      I appreciate your engagement, and I’m sorry I peed on your favorite band’s new record, but as you can see from the other comments a lot of people feel the way I do about the new album. Now granted, having concensus on your side isn’t always right, but at least it validates that I am not the only one who thinks that BG is pooping out mediocre tracks these days. The “but compared to other bands this is great” argument goes only far: because if the standard of a band is out of this world (which I believe we can agree BG has had amazing music in the past), then mediocrity means that you don’t want to listen to the new records even though it’s technically still millions of times better than the new Korn record. That is to say: sure, the middle songs are only mediocre not *bad*, but I’d still rather listen to Imaginations, Nightfall or A Night at the Opera.

      And there are way fresher bands that BG. Sorry, dude.

      • Jacob

        Fair enough, but I don’t think you ACTUALLY have concensus on your side.

        I typed “Blind Guardian At the Edge of Time Review” into the search feed. I recorded the first 6 reviews for the album which popped up. Yours was the first to pop up, here are the other five.

        Metal Storm rating: 8.7/10 with 122 votes.

        sputnikmusic: 4.0/5.0 User rating: 3.9/5.0

        this dude’s blog 3.5/5.0

        Metal Assault: 9/10

        this dude’s blog: A-

        • Ha, don’t get me started on reviewers. And, yeah, I guess I could be a bit more on the downy side than everyone else. But I stand by my review. I think that I made my case (and have made it repeatedly in the comments). And when it comes down to it, dude, reviews are opinions. And whether or not you, or everyone else, agrees is not actually relevant to what my opinion is. I listened to the album a bunch of times, and I had to work to get into it. Now eventually I did really get into parts of it, but I didn’t get into all of it.

          BTW: Reviewers overrate shit all the fucking time. One of the reasons that I started this site was to try to maintain what I saw as a more realistic rating system in place. Sure, rating is arbitrary, but since when is the average record coming out from Boring Shit Records a 7? Average should be 5 on a normal curve, and that record companies weed out poop makes me think that a 6 is a reasonable “normal”. But a 3.0/5.0 (which by my standards is a good, enjoyable, solid record) is basically considered a universal pan among metal reviewers.

          So whether or not metal reviewers agree with me or not is definitely something that I don’t give a shit about at all. And you’re right that I shouldn’t claim consensus at all since all I have is anecdotal evidence and a bunch of people commenting about how they agree with my review. Of course, unless we’re going to start doing statistical analysis, neither should you. ;)

          • Jacob

            I wouldn’t claim consensus either because, like you, I don’t really give a shit. I only posted the other sites to make a point. I think that point was made and I appreciate your acknowledgment. As I said before, I appreciate your point of view and I actually LIKED reading this review even though I don’t agree with much of it. You give an honest appraisal of metal music and you write well, so consider me a patron of your blog from this point forward.

            I look forward to debating you further on future reviews, hah hah.

  • Darren

    Wow, I went back to Curse My Name and there’s some horrible production errors in there from about 2:50 or so. Definitely not one to listen to with the volume all the way up.

    • Do you have a CD version? Mine is insane! It’s got this ridiculously high pitched squeek at around 3 minutes on that track.

  • Casper

    I have been listening to this album (almost) exclusively for one whole week now. I can’t believe some people are regarding this as a weaker ablum. This is actually the first Blind Guardian album on which I love every song. In it’s own way, I think every track is strongly written. There are a lots of fresh melodies here, especially on Road of no Release and Wheel of Time. Also I like the way the combine the harsh old stuff with the smooth epicness of the newer albums. I’d give the album a 8.5. Maybe a 9 if I am still listening it a lot after a few weeks. I do, however, agree with the lead of Andre being a bit absent here and there. But the drums are actually a lot better then on ATITM (not on the level of ANATO tough). My favourite tracks on this one are definately Ride in to Obession, Control the Divine and Wheel of Time. And I think the acoustic version of War of the Thrones is one of their best ballads (not the ablum version tough, but it is still good). As a fan of BG, they have really surprised me with this album. This law you are talking about was actually what I was expecting.

    • Yeah, listening to it now and am enjoying it more than I did after the first 8 or 9 listens. Still, certain songs I love and certain songs that I think are just.. Meh.

      Glad you love it, though, but I’d say that Wheel of Time is definitely my favorite track. That and Ride into Obsession. Funny that the two best tracks on the album are both about Wheel of Time, which is such a crappy bunch of novels.

  • Robin

    Finally a good review, though I cant say much cause I have onley listen to some songs, but since you said Wheel Of Time was the best on the record I thought I listen to it, and it sounds pretty good ;)

  • nobody

    “Yeah, listening to it now and am enjoying it more than I did after the first 8 or 9 listens. ”

    @Angry Metal Guy:
    Remember what some guy in a much earlier post said:
    “There is one other thing about BG…
    The more you listen to it the better it gets.”

    True isn’t it?

    PS The only other that does this for me is Amon Amarth but that’s another story…

    BG rulez!!!

  • Lukelo

    You made some good points in this review; very thorough, as well. Although I would have probably given this album a 3.5-4.0, I agree with many of the negative aspects you’ve outlined, regardless of the fact that I believe you were a bit excessive in quite a few points and on premise that it is a highly opinionated review. That’s my two-piece in; no need to write my own bloody review on your site. Keep up the good work.


    • Of course this review is biased. It’s an opinion. LIKE ALL REVIEWS. How can you possibly expect there to be any kind of rational objectivity to an opinion piece about a record?

      • Lukelo

        Oh, no, I wasn’t criticizing at all. I was simply stating that I agree with many points in your review, regardless of the fact that it is essentially your opinion. In a sense, our opinions are very close– nothing more. Your review was very personal and showed that you have been following Guardian for years, now; therefore your opinion on the album is drawing from your past experiences with the band. I’m not saying this is negative, in fact, I enjoy a reviewer who knows his bands well and doesn’t review each album with the headline “Yet Another Groundbreaking Album by the Metal Gods _____” and the premise of giving it at least 3/5 as some minimal rating.

  • J’

    Ok, I’ve just listened to “A voice in the dark” and my first impression was “caught in the after life Ive gone too far”… It’s like “When sorrow sang” but with different lyrics and a new drummer.
    Then I jump to Tanelor, everything seems ok, until the chorus… yes, I’ve heard somthing similar before, the chorus sounds similar to “Quest for Tanelorn”. Then I go to “Valkiries”, to hear it for a moment, and compare it to the first song it reminds me: “The script…” Similar melodies again…
    I understand that many bands, when they’ve depleted their creativity, start to sound just as their previous albums. Sadly, this seems to be the case of BG, and it makes me understand the reason why Thomen left the band (among others).
    I hope Hansi and André would finish their work about LOTR without any problem as soon as possible and release it under BG’s label. That would be the perfect ending for a great career. If they keep on trying to turn back time, they’re gonna screw it all.

  • stefan

    the rating was a bit harsh, i think, but i agreed with a lot of what you said. saying only half of the album is worth anything is also a bit brutal. i would say close to 3/4 of it is good. i think Valkyries ought to be given a little more slack though because the chorus is really catchy and some of the time changes are neat. overall, some really solid tracks on this album. dont get me wrong, its nothing like nightfall or imaginations, and i think probably the reason i was actually impressed with the album was because A Twist in the Myth was so awful and i was expecting this one to be about the same quality, if not worse. but thank the fates, it was much better than that. this one has some tracks that i’m sure will become regular plays for me. anyway, nice review, but i’d recommend readers not be turned totally off by the 2.5 score here. definitely some gems on this album.

  • RiffDaemon

    I’m from the old-school sect of Blind Guardian fandom. I love everything up to Somewhere Far Beyond, which to me is BG at their best. Imaginations was a bit too much in places; Nightfall had a couple good tracks that I loved but I can’t listen to it all the way through; and ANATO and Twist did nothing for me.

    With that said, I LIKE this new album. Much like the reviewer, half the CD is great and the other half is ok. The ‘ok’ ones are growing on me with each listen, though “Curse My Name” and “War of the Thrones” aren’t warming up to me very well.

    Also, the first track had the right amount of orchestration to me. “Wheel of Time” has a bit too much, such as overbearing trumpets during choruses and stuff like that.

    Anyway, I like the direction BG is taking. Can’t wait to see them again stateside this fall.

  • Dude. Totally agree with your assessment. I’d love to see them step away from all the over-dubbing (aka beachboymetal)… but I’m very pleased with this release, in light of my less-enthusiastic reaction to Twist in the Myth (which effectively moved them to the “dubious” section of my Girlfriend’s assessment. She gets pissy if I play any track from Twist and has a low view of Blind Guardian as a whole now =/).

    If they’d spent a bit more time on a few tracks and just release a rock solid 8 track album, I would be have been even more pleased. I don’t really like having tracks I need to uncheck in itunes :(.

  • Trevor

    I agree that the album has very high peaks, but patchy quality overall; however, I think your score is far too harsh. A 2.5 implies that the 5 tracks that you aren’t “smitten” with are totally worthless shit. And on the other side of the equation, you are smitten with the 2 songs that are by far the longest on the record. A better assessment of the ratio of bad to good would yield a more appropriate score, I think.

  • Milan

    Great review! Just i think that 10/10 tracks are crap. So it goes to the previous album. Utter crap. Compared to everything they did before A TIT M.

  • chris

    Most fans of Slough Feg and Manilla Road would say that these two bands are immune from the Law of Diminishing Recordings.

    I don’t think Blind Guardian is. Of course, I speak as a fan of power/thrash (not straight thrash), who think that “Majesty” and “Banished From Sanctuary” are their finest songs. That said, it amazes me that this band is unable to produce anything that I really dislike, considering that I generally hate anything involving the use of synthesizers, orchestral effects, overly-slick production, and ballads in metal. I probably like over half of the songs on the new album, and I love almost everything on ANATO. It says a lot that they’re good enough to make me overlook these things and still enjoy their music, even if I’d prefer something like “Lost In The Twilight Hall”.

  • Turdburglar

    Am I the only person who thought that Night at the Opera was BG’s defining work? It seems like everyone is waiting for another Nightfall In Middle-Earth. I want another Night at the Opera, dammit.

  • Björn

    This album has definitely grown into a definite masterpiece in my house. In retrospect, my theory is that the “sandwiched” songs seemed a bit lackluster because I was, and still am, completely humbeled by the epicness of Sacred Worlds and Wheel of Time.
    André is, as always, right on the money with his leads. IMO he’s unique in the way he always blends his leads into the music. There are never any wanking or “out of context”-leads.
    Production is stellar, and the orchestrations are beautifully integrated with the music.
    Having listened to Blind Guardian since I was a little fart in “mellanstadiet”, I’d say this is definitely one of their best offerings. From a songwriting perspective, it’s a flirt with their older albums, but all in all I’d say it’s a step forward.

  • Ivan

    In my opinion….
    Sacred worlds: Great song, perfect for the intro too. Tanelorn: Started good until “cryyy for Tanelorn…”. Road of no Release: Ok. Ride into obssesion: Ok. Curse my name: Very original song, I like the way it is, but what about a live version with electric guitar? Well maybe that could destroy the song, sill can’t take tahat crazy idea out of my mind. lol
    Valkyres: Has a couple of good moments the rest is ok. Control the divine: I just can’t like this song. War of the Thrones: Ok.
    A voice in the dark: Very good. Wheel of time: Epic way to end.

    Oh and I think the CD cover with the dragon, the guards and pyramid is one the best from BG.

  • Kraj

    Wheel of Time books horrendous? I’m sorry, but that shows that you either have no appreciation of good writing, or are bad at exaggerating. I’ve met plenty of people who don’t like them, but all have given credit to Jordan’s development of the plot and characters. PATIENCE is needed to read them? How many did you read?

    ANATO is one of the greatest albums I’ve ever heard, as has been Nightfall in M-E, and I will say that this is not up to Blind Guardian standards, but its still a great album with great music.

    • Kraj

      “PATIENCE is needed to read them?”

      That should be a period, not a question mark

      And sorry that the comment was a little hostile… I was just mad at your stance on WoT books :P

    • I made it through the first three or four before finally deciding that they were like the worst books I’d ever read. I love fantasy novels, I’ve read tons of them, I’m a big fan of good writing and the Wheel of Time books are not good writing. They are *bad* writing. They are over-detailed and , the characters are terrible, the development is poor and I finally decided that they were no longer *worth* my patience. Particularly his “strong women” were irritating, ’cause they weren’t strong: they were cranky. But none of his characters had any real depth, and the Dragon was so fucking annoying I wanted to stab him in the head.

      That those books ever became popular or will ever be considered anywhere near the genius of Tolkien or A Song of Ice and Fire blows my mind.

      • Kraj

        I will agree that it takes an absolute eternity to get anything done. Many don’t like it, I do, and it makes me want to read more and more. I have not read a Song of Ice and Fire (I’ll check it out when I’m done with the 7 book tall waiting list on my shelf), but I will agree on Tolkien being better. Little is better than Middle-Earth.

        Jordan seems to fit my own writing style, I take an age to get anything done, and do enjoy very detailed book (eidetic memory).

        I heard about some company in the US planning on making a film out of Eye of the World – which would be utterly horrid.

        Also, just curious, what language did you read WoT in?

        Anyway, good review, even though I don’t agree with significant portions of it.

  • Sabinlerose

    This album brings me back to the time I originally listened to the entire Nightfall in Middle Earth album. I regretted spending twenty five dollars on it. After having it in the CD player constantly I started slowly falling in love with it. To the point it’s one of the, if not the most loved album in my library.

    I don’t consider myself a fan, or a critic or a connoisseur or anything of the like. I know what I like and what I don’t like and thats enough for me.

    This album gives me the same feeling. The only song I liked originally was “Wheel of time.”
    Now all the songs are giving me something special and memorable. It’s gotten more play time then a Twist in the myth did. Even with all the repeat playings of Fly.

  • Tribe

    Ok, I’ve been listening to this album once a day for close to a month. Yeah, the chorus on Tanelorn is kind of cheesy, and tracks 1, 9, and 10 really outshine the rest of the album with their epicness. However, every track on this album is easily listenable and high quality. What ends up making it all amazing is Hansi’s vocal delivery, which kicks ass all over. You end up singing along with him most of the time. They’re not all ultra fast, old school songs but that’s how BG always makes their albums.

    Originally I wasn’t sure about Valkyries and Control The Divine, but now I like them as much as any other song on the album. Again, Hansi makes them stand out. The guy’s a singing wizard.

    • thehuntress144

      Agreed. The production values and compositional quality is stellar. Critics may turn their nose up at bombastic power metal, but I unabashedly enjoyed the hell out of it, dammit!

  • Anonymous

    I really enjoyed this album, at first, i didn’t like it, but as it is with most albums, it just grew and grew on me until i simply couldn’t get enough of it!

    Now i look forward, as any fan, to the “memories of a time” and the new orchestral album!

  • Karapiro

    Your Law of Diminishing Returns is easily describable by your increasing age and experience. Unfortunately everything is limited and the brain simply needs completely new things to be baffled in awe every single time, which just is not possible. I find your review far too harsh as you’re just riding your “law” without putting more thought into it. I’m sure if you started listening to the songs in a different order than you have this album would just as much drop your jaws as the old albums did in the past.

  • Valkyries is an incredible song in my opinion, the way Hansi multitracks several melodies at the same time and still manages to keep things catchy and organized is baffling to me, as a musician. War Of The Thrones is also a good song, but as a fan of the books and TV series I am completely biased. Control The Divine is a nice song but the weakest on the album.