Blind Guardian - Beyond the Red MirrorBlind Guardian is a German institution and national treasure. The band embodies the peak of the German power-thrash tradition in ways that nod to their countrymen, but separated them from the pack decades ago. Their body of work is surely among the most comprehensively epic and impressive among modern metal bands, and they are a band whose sound is a point of reference rather than a derivation. So when these titans of Teutonic metal release a new record the metal world turns to pay its respects. Put differently, Beyond the Red Mirror has been on my calendar since I heard of its release, and when asked, fans of this blog have also said resoundingly that it’s one of the most anticipated records of 2015. As long-time readers of this blog are aware, anticipation can be dangerous. One might surmise that Angry Metal Guy’s Law of Diminishing Recordings™ is contingent not on an individual band’s output, but instead correlates with heightened expectations from fans and reviewers1.

Despite my enormous respect for the band, I have mixed feelings about Blind Guardian‘s post-A Night at the Opera releases. The band has been inconsistent for a long time, and while At the Edge of Time did eventually grow on me, A Twist in the Myth never has. And while it might not feel like it, the band’s most widely acclaimed records—Imaginations from the Other Side and Nightfall in Middle-Earth—are 20 and 17 years-old respectively in 2015. However, Beyond the Red Mirror has been promoted as a record of epic proportions. With the use of three different choirs, an orchestra, and 4 years in the making, this conceptual piece connects back to Imaginations from the Other Side thematically2. And that sales job had me prepared for something truly epic and excellent.

BlindGuardian2015k-webAnd Beyond the Red Mirror cannot be faulted for its epic vision. “The Ninth Wave” starts the album off with a choir singing in Latin (“spookytus!“) with snare and an orchestra supporting the epic build and drums that evoke A Night at the Opera‘s use of drum machine immediately. The song is 9 minutes long with marathon solos and shifts in and out of driving thrash and more progressive passages. “The Ninth Wave” sounds like Blind Guardian circa Imaginations, possibly more so than any record since Nightfall. The music is driving, thrashy, and despite all the talk of epic orchestras, there’s actually quite a lot of the album that lacks orchestrations. Instead, triplet thrash riffs and trademark harmonized guitar solos are driven by double kick and bass that rests under layers and layers and layers of vocals. For me, this is where Beyond the Red Mirror is at its most successful and the album is packed with great songs. The drive of straight up thrash with sick riffs on “Ashes of Eternity,” pop with epic energy. The double-bass-punctuated shrieks of Hansi in “The Twilight of the Gods” gives way to a classic chorus and features amazing solos. “The Holy Grail,” too, is a neck breaker that stands out on every listen.

The other side of Beyond the Red Mirror is what the promotional division decided they should lead with: the orchestras. When you break it down, Beyond the Red Mirror has beautiful orchestrations that show up at different points throughout the record, but the two biggest orchestral pieces are opening track “The Ninth Wave” and closer “Grand Parade” (though, “At the Edge of Time” also has an enormous orchestral close). Coincidentally, both tracks clock in at exactly 9 minutes and 30 seconds long, and while epic, are the record’s low point in my opinion. While “The Ninth Wave” feels like a pretty epic opener, it suffers from a case of Harris-itus—the practice of putting long, thematically disconnected intros and outros on otherwise serviceable songs. “Grand Parade,” which gets named dropped as “the best song [the band] has ever written” in the band’s promotional material, gets good at about the 5:30 mark. Though, in its defense, that last 4 minutes are towering, beautiful and brilliant. From a birds-eye view, however, the record is frustrating because the middle 45 minutes is just one epic success after another, but the album starts and stops like a semi carrying a wide load.

BlindGuardian2015a-web

Further, I have two overarching issues with Beyond the Red Mirror. The first issue is that I can’t seem to listen to it from the beginning to end. As I took notes on the record, I found myself liking every single track. There are very few moments on here that aren’t epic and engaging and yet Beyond the Red Mirror almost doesn’t feel like more than the sum of its parts. This is about scope and pacing, and the Bowser-like acceleration and deceleration may have something to do with feeling like the album is just too much. But it’s possible that a due to a fixation with complexity and epic scope the anthems and melodies that are so intrinsic to their sound weren’t developed. There is no “Battlefield” on here, even though the record as a whole is well-composed. And it’s partially those hooks which propel a listener from one song to the next.

But there’s another problem, too: I have been unable to listen to this record and enjoy it under “average” listening conditions. When played on better speakers or my monitors, it becomes apparent just how detailed and complex this record is. Choirs and stringed instruments lay lush dimensions under beautiful lines; vocals are placed beautifully in the mix to take up just the right amount of space. The drums are easily the most natural sounding drums I’ve heard on a Nuclear Blast release in a decade—fat kicks in a genuine register. But get this record into anything that isn’t a good set of speakers and it sounds like it’s been re-amped through a pillow. The subtle orchestration disappears, the bass and drums are almost completely swallowed, and all you’ve got left is Hansi, his choirs, and guitars. This has created extremely different listening experiences for me depending on my choice of equipment. Blind Guardian - Beyond the Red Mirror - DigibookOn the one hand, I try to listen to it at work in my half-good work headphones and it sounds not great, in my generally pretty high performing earbuds? Flat, flat, flat. Small speakers? The same thing. My theory—but I don’t know enough about producing orchestral metal to say with certainty—is that it’s about the choices that had to be made in order to fit the band’s already dense sound into the same box as an orchestra all at the low, low DR of 8. I’ll be curious to see if the vinyl mix has this problem…

With all that in mind, records like Beyond the Red Mirror demonstrably put the miserably unjust lie to rating systems. This album is immense, intense and a brilliant artistic achievement from a band that’s getting gray around the temples. Given the scope, artistry, and vision that has been invested in this musical journey, I feel uncomfortable giving it a numerical rating. Since my back is to the wall, I have to say this: Beyond the Red Mirror is Blind Guardian‘s best record since A Night at the Opera and is a monumental achievement of composition and arrangement that—like the aforementioned record—is held back by its production and suffers somewhat from overreach. Still, I really enjoy it as a whole and appreciate the hard work that was put into it, and I think we should all take a minute to recognize what a spectacularly talented and unique contribution to metal Blind Guardian is and how damned lucky we are to have them.


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: V0 mp3
Label: Nuclear Blast [EU | US]
Websites: blind-guardian.com | facebook.com/blindguardian
Release Dates: EU: 2015.01.30 | UK: 2015.02.02 | NA: 02.03.2015

Show 2 footnotes

  1. One would of course be wrong, but that wouldn’t stop one from surmising such a ludicrous proposition, of course.
  2. Let it be known, however, that Nuclear Blast Records has not included any information on the connections or the lyrics, so I review blind.

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  • El Lado Oscuro

    Nice review, I miss a little more punch of the guitar and found it a little overproduced. But it is a very good record

  • Fazy

    I honestly feel like the album could have easily been 10 minutes shorter.
    Good take on a very difficult review, AMG.

    • 19 if you take off the first and last track…

      • itsmydamnation

        for me the first track losses it when the choir stops. Outside of that for me this album lacks the felling of being frantic, like you get with songs like battlefield, and then there was silence, majesty , ride into obsession etc. its that lack of pace change, something cant be frantic without the juxtaposition . This is both within songs and within the album and i think stops anything from being memorable ( except the opening to the first track). I want to like this album more then i do, odin organ, serious black and angra have all been more enjoyable.

        but who knows Blind guardian Albums tend to be growers, also agree last track is the worst. i was expecting another and then there was silence and all i got was boredom…..

        • This record has gotten somewhere in the range of 20+ listens from me. And in the time it did grow. But I’m not entirely sure it’s good for the band that you have to listen to a record and become intimately familiar with it before you can start to enjoy it.

          The thing about Angra, for me, is what made this album so hard to review. Blind Guardian is doing something epic and huge. They’re taking a risk when they go this big. Angra, while I love what they’re doing, is doing something a lot more close to earth, something that is easier to do well because their goals are so different. Comparing those records almost feels unjust, like a comparison of “apples and oranges,” you know? But it’s true, even though I respect Blind Guardian’s new one a ton, I like the new Angra better.

  • Josh R.

    You nailed everything. I put it on in my somewhat crappy car speakers and was very underwhelmed with the production (and Ninth Wave may not be the best intro in said conditions). I also agree about how much better the middle of the album is than the bookends.

  • Kalsten

    There is a typo when you said: It should say Imaginations from the Other Side and Somewhere Far Beyond. “And while it might not feel like it, the band’s most widely acclaimed records—Imaginations from the Other Side and Nightfall in Middle-Earth”. It should say Imaginations from the Other Side and Somewhere Far Beyond.

    I was listening to the new record today, in my mobile phone (Spotify at highest quality, with good IEMs) and it sounds pretty bad. I mean, there is no bass, the voice is dragged down in the mix and you can barely understand it, the guitars sounds like crap… I still need to listen to it through my good headphones (Grado Sr225 and UltrasonsE HFI 580) connected to my external sound card but…I don’t know. I feel like I have never really liked anything from Blind Guardian after Imaginations, and a bit of A night at the Opera.

    • Nightfall in Middle-Earth is the band’s best record by a mile. Regardless, the production is an issue. In fact, I think the production is a lot of the issue.

      • Oleg Ryzhikov

        Definitely Nightfall.

        • Kalsten

          For me Nightfall is the start of the decline of Blind Guardian. They lost the “metal” part for becoming the epic bombastic thing they are now.

          • Oleg Ryzhikov

            I agree, but this fact just can’t change all the awesomeness of NitME

        • Ernesto Aimar

          Imaginations is just one inch better than Nightfall

      • I only half agree….that is their best album, but tied with “Imaginations from the Other Side”. :)

        • Wilhelm

          Yeah, I would put them at about equal too.

  • gustman17

    Nice review. The album is very strong on a song by song basis, but at times it feels like all the songs are trying to reach the same epic heights (with the exception of Miracle Machine, which is more obviously different), and it ends up lacking a bit of contrast after AtEoT (the song)–something I think AtEoT (the album) pulled off very well. Maybe it’s just the production.

    Other than that, the record is a masterclass in how to write epic power metal.
    I only disagree with your take on Grand Parade. It’s a marvellous closer; makes me wonder if the bonus track ‘Doom’ (which ends the album in one of its many editions) makes it lose some of its power.

    • tomasjacobi

      I think Doom is great and is a far better end to the album than Grand Parade. It’s worth it to get the Earbook edition for this track alone, but you also get a large book with photos, lyrics and the written story that ties the songs together.

      • Steve

        Doom is the weakest song, so I disagree.

        • tomasjacobi

          Well there you go, we like different stuff I guess…
          Normally I don’t like bonus tracks, but with this album I like the whole album better with the 2 bonus songs.

          • Steve

            Distant Memories is definitely one of the albums highlights, more deserving to be on there than say Sacred Mind or Miracle Machine forr me. It’s actually part of the overall concept as well, compared to Doom which is more of a typical tagged on bonus track. I’d imagine the only reason it was left off in the first place is to give some fans an excuse to buy an extra version of the album.

          • tomasjacobi

            I must admit I haven’t delved deeply into the story and lyrics yet, but as far as I can see, Doom does fit in with the story told.
            But It is definitely a dodgy decision to only have the track on the Earbook and to split it up on 2 CD’s. 77 minutes could fit on a single CD and it could’ve also fit nicely on the 2LP.
            But hey, this way they got me to buy both the vinyl AND the Earbook; Nuclear Blast: 1, Tomas: 0

  • Oleg Ryzhikov

    Intriguing, if somewhat disappointing. Can’t wait till cd comes, so I could judge myself. Thanks for a lot of words on BG!

  • One of the many reasons I like this site is that often the reviewers put into words things that I feel, but cannot describe, and this review perfectly captures what my feelings are towards this. Yes, its a really solid Blind Guardian album, and the band is near the top of their game, yet, theres just something about this album that keeps me coming back to it. I cant put my finger on it, maybe its the length, maybe its the production, maybe its TOO Blind Guardian.

    For me, this album falls into the same trap as other albums by veteran bands like Maiden’s “A Matter of Life and Death” or Dark Tranqulity’s “We Are the Void”. In both cases, each band has released a really solid album with excellent musicianship, portraying the style that the band has become to know, yet for one reason or another, there is nothing memorable about the albums. If I’m in the mood for some Maiden or DT, neither of those albums are going to be the first, second, or third albums I pick.

    I think thats the problem I have with “Beyond the Red Mirror”, theres just nothing about it that sticks with me like the band’s older albums. Its a solid release and I enjoyed what I’ve heard of it, but I cant make it through an entire listen without getting bored.

    • Monsterth Goatom

      I agree there’s something missing. Everyone is playing their asses off, and all the songs project an almost manic level of energy, but I have yet to hear a song that really hits me in the gut. There’s a certain sameness to the songs that gets a little tireing.

      For comparison, Elvenking’s Pagan Manifesto is full of soaring melodies and anthemic choruses that one just can’t help to sing along with. Same with Visigoth’s latest, as another example. I realize I’m talking about somewhat different styles of Metal, and I don’t judge a record by its Karaoke value, but there has to be something there that draws me back again and again. Maybe I’m feeling a lack of passion here, odd as that might seem?

      I’m not one to spin a record once and say “meh, not my cup of tea”, and move on to something else. I’ll continue to spin it, as there’s still a lot to enjoy here.

  • BaboonKing

    I would have to agree with your final assessment. It’s missing… something. Listening to each individual song, they all are all fine, with plenty of interesting arrangements and outstanding musicianship. But it’s like if the secret ingredient that made some of their previous work so special and captivating is just not there.

    That said, it’s still smooth as butter and growing on me with each listen. Perhaps in time I’ll change my outlook.

  • Maksym Nikitin

    Thanks for the review. Nightfall is my favorite. And it was not till I listened to it in a somewhat good pair of headphones I was able to appreciate how good the album was.

  • tomasjacobi

    As always: A very well-written review. A lot of good points, but in the end I just seem to like the album a lot even though there may be some issues. The main reason is probably that I had almost completely given up on Blind Guardian having not liked anything since Nightfall.
    But I must say this one is really growing on me.

    Also, I seem to be the only person who doesn’t have any issues with the production. I seriously can’t think of any modern power/symphonic albums that sound half as good as this one.
    Sure, the bass is very low in the mix, but I just checked and I can’t for the life of me hear the bass on either Imaginations or Nightfall. And that goes for both the original, remastered and remixed versions of those albums…

    • Steve

      Power metal albums in general aren’t that well produced and have the bass very low in the mix.

  • kaeru92

    Just Curious, AMG, what pair of headphones where you using while listening to this record ?

    • Monsterth Goatom

      Are you looking for some cans to purchase? I’d personally recommend Sennheiser. I use the PX-100 at work and HD-39 at home. I almost prefer the sound of the PX-100, though they’re supposed to be a step down in quality from the other ones.

      • kaeru92

        No, as mentioned above I’m actually well equipped, but I wanted to see if the reviewer’s impression of the sound being too compact is caused by the headphones having a somewhat small soundstage or something like that.

      • BarryLeFreak

        Hey man, while kaeru may not be looking for a pair of cans, I am! Did you have any recommendations for headphones to start out? I’ve only ever used the free in-ear style headphones and am thinking of upgrading a bit.

        • kaeru92

          There is a ton of great headphones around, so recommending anything will be difficult unless I know more about what you’re looking for. What’s your price range, do you prefer on ear or over ear, do you have any sound signature preference, should it be closed or open back, portable or not, etc… If you give me a few more info I can definitely try to help you choose a nice pair.

          • BarryLeFreak

            I would prefer some closed-backs that are relatively cheap. I am still a student so I don’t think open-backs are particularly suitable. I don’t have any real auditory preference (or even much knowledge).

        • kaeru92

          Once again, depends what you call cheap. The sennheiser HD 230 (or 202) are among the best value cheap headphones (around 30$), the audio technica M30 (70$) is also very solid. Koss also has some cheap headphones (portapro, DJ100 for ex).

          • BarryLeFreak

            Maybe $150 is my maximum?

          • kaeru92

            Then you can check the Philipps Fidelio L1 (semi open). If you want a closed one, i consider the Audio Technica ATH M50 to be one of the best at this price point. The sennheiser momentums (two versions, over ear or on ear) are also quite nice, fashionable and around this price point. The AKG K550 is very nice but a bit more expensive.

          • BarryLeFreak

            Thank you for your help man, really appreciate it :D

          • kaeru92

            You’re welcome !

        • Monsterth Goatom

          Hey Barry, I’m no audiophile. I bought my first Sennheisers many moons ago and was happy with the sound, so I’ve stuck with them through the years.

          Kaeru92 has provided some good recommendations. I would only add that you should test drive whichever ones pique your interest. Ideally, seek out a brick and mortar store where they have some on display and bring along some of your music to test them out. Fit is also important, as some people complain about some headphones feeling like vices or putting too much pressure on their ears.

          It’s kind of hard to go by reviews on places like Amazon. For any set of headphones, half the reviewers will rhapsodize about how they’re a gift from above, while the other half will disparage them as total shit.

          Alex from Metal-Fi is talking about a possible review of good headphones, so that’s something to look out for as well.

          • BarryLeFreak

            Sweet thanks man. I was just looking for one that sounds reasonable and that I can keep for a while :]

    • Kalsten

      For “straight up” metal (thrash, death and so) I use a pair of Grado sr225i. For more complex metal, with symphonies and the like, I use Ultrasone HFI 580. And for using in my mobile phone, a pair of Sound Magic PL50, or Shure se215.

      I recommend all of them, specially the Grados. They are open headphones though, so you will annoy people if you use them in public, as they do not isolate you at all.

      • kaeru92

        Grado’s have the reputation of being headphones well suited for metal, but I always found their signature sound too bright. But i can see it working for “straight up metal”, as you say.
        I’m personally using a pair of Philipps Fidelio X1 at home (open cans, great soundstage, great value for the bucks) and Sennheiser Momentum’s Over ear while on the go (fairly recent pair, still warming up to them).

        I’ve always been more a headphones thank speaker kind of guy.

  • behr1987

    I’ve had the vinyl for quite some time since it was sent out long before the release date (by mistake I suppose).

    The vinyl mix is really strange. I’m not a sound engineer so I don’t know the terminology. Sometimes the sounds is perfect and gorgeous (actually sounds a bit like Carlous Rex, Sabaton) but often the epic bombastic thick sound turns into something flat, thin… I don’t know, like the bass is removed!? This happens quite often in some of tracks, not all of them.

    Due to this “small issue” I’ve not spend time to seriously listen to the record. I’ve to pick up the CD and start from the beginning.

    Someone else that share my experience?

  • Excentric_1307

    Holy Effin’ Ess this sounds awesome on my home stereo. But I can see how it wouldn’t with anything less. Maybe this will be a vinyl purchase this month?

  • Vega Magnus

    I love the music itself, but the production does have the required oomph behind it IMO. I’m not an audiophile like AMG, but it just sounds off to me. Too quiet, I suppose.

    • Not too quiet. Too muddy. Actually, it probably could be quieter, which might help clear it up some.

      • Vega Magnus

        Muddy is a good term. It’s irritating because as I’m listening to it, I’m conscious of my ears straining to hear the orchestration in the background. Still, a great album IMO.

        • Yeah, and therein lies the problem. The orchestra gets de-prioritized in the mix. It’s weird.

  • Adam

    Like you I find it overall very good but just missing..something. A bit more impact from the guitars and drums, some better hooks in the more orchestral songs. But I still keep listening to it over and over. Holy Grail is outstanding

    • Love “Holy Grail.” That middle section there is actually fantastic. Hard to say what’s missing, but everyone seems to agree that something is missing.

  • dörkadörka

    Thanks for taking your time with this review, AMG… I first discovered your site with your initial trashing of AtEoT back in 2010 and had you pegged for a rookie then, as I thought it common knowledge that the post-Nightfall Blind Guardian only worked after multiple spins AND a lot of effort made by the listener. Germans are of course very familiar with this issue and have their own word for it (“sich schönhören”)…
    I was mighty impressed by your mea culpa move of including the record in your end-of-year list, and I have been following your blog ever since; not many critics have the guts to come out like this!
    The new record is indeed their best since ANatO, and 3.5 is a fair grade in my book. Keep it up!

  • Ernesto Aimar

    Well, I totally agree on your assesment about “The Ninth Wave” and “The Grand Parade”, they are definetly the weakest tracks of the album and ironically (or not) the most ambitious ones. Still, I would’t let them out, they maybe lack some refinement, but they showcase interesting moments (“The Ninth Wave” chorus is something worth the waiting).

    In regards to the “lacking something” I think the problem is mainly that the album has too much going on at the same time. I loved “AtEoT” mainly because it recalled the early edgy riffs of their first records, it contained amaizing metal riffs blended perfectly with the bombastic choirs and arrangements. Even “Wheel of Time”, which had huge orchestrations in it, was not overwhelming and sounded very balanced.

    And the production definetly doesn’t help. I was surprised to see you liked how the drums sound, I think they are quite dull and bereft of dinamycs. And vocals are way upfront, but that’s an issue BG has had for a long time now.

    Still, I loved the album for I can’t even explain how much I admire and enjoy BG. Overall, I’d say “Beyond…” is not as goos as “AtEoT” but definetly better than “A Twist in the Myth” and maybe even-handed with “A Night at the Opera”. And It will likely end in my best of the year list despite it’s flaws.

    • nunka

      I dunno, I think “The Ninth Wave” is pretty brilliant. The production sounds a bit flat but otherwise to me that song sounds like BG at the top of their game.

  • Wilhelm

    I am hardly impressed, I think the mix is a big factor but I’m just very unimpressed with the guitar tone, as it just sounds like a pro tools default distortion. It always seems like when a band announces that they hired five different orchestras for their album, the end result is what one good producer/mixer could do with a keyboard.Other than that I like about half the tunes with the other ones having great verses but weak choruses (anti-climactic especially for BG) It’s an alright album, but I’m just not feeling the power like I got from the old stuff.

  • Kryopsis

    I got the album at release but so far I only managed to squeeze in some listening time when on my way to and from work. I rather enjoyed what I heard but then again I tend to be very vocal about my appreciation of Blind Guardian (to the annoyance of many of my friends). This said, I absolutely agree with the assessment of the band’s post-‘Night At The Opera’ work. I like ‘At the Edge of Time’ for the highlights but I never managed to sit through ‘A Twist in the Myth’. In my opinion that album remains BG’s weakest effort and, in fact, I can’t name a single track!

    • Steve

      It has some of their best songs, Turn the Page and Otherland being the two standouts.

      • Ernesto Aimar

        I love Straight through the mirror and Skalds & Shadows

  • I tried to listen through my laptop speakers and it was really annoying me. It’s great music though, and I’ll give it a try on my home desktop with the good-ish cans and hopefully it’ll be a better experience. Still I can’t help the feeling that with a DR8 it should have sounded better.

    • I have no idea how much the compression has affected the sound in this case. My theory is that it did, but I’m not sure. Turisas’s Stand Up and Fight is definitely in the DR6-8 range and it sounds absolutely brilliant. Clear, bright, well-balanced—everything in its place, even with a real orchestra. But they do a lot less “orchestration” of their own instruments and voices than Blind Guardian. BG not only has 75 vocal tracks on every word, but they also have all the harmonized guitars and stuff. It ends up being so big and so epic on its own that adding an orchestra feels like overkill. In some ways, if they had wanted to go “full orchestra” they should have simplified and streamlined other parts of the sound.

      But instead, they just tried to fit everything under the same “roof,” so to speak. I think—despite brilliant vision and songs I really enjoy—it kills the sound, which kills the album as a whole.

      • sickbroski

        “In some ways, if they had wanted to go “full orchestra” they should have simplified and streamlined other parts of the sound.”

        They didn’t want to back down, much like Metallica on S&M. I guess I’ll have to get it anyway to discover all the layers.

  • Casper

    You are the first reviewer I see bringing up the point of this album requiring a clear audio set. Very good point, it made my enjoyment much bigger when I listened to it in a quiet room with some clear headphones. Still, it is a hassle as I usually listen while travelling.

    Also, a question, did you have the full version with the bonustracks? I think Distant Memories greatly improves album pacing and gives the necessary break. .It is total bullcrap that that song is a bonus to the digipack/earbook (considering it is placed between Ashes of Eternity and Holy Grail). (also, Doom is a nice throwback to pre-Imaginations material and is not all out epic either).

  • Darren

    The music is brilliant beyond measure. As a collection of songs, this album is…well, the first word that came to my mind was ‘nondescript’.

    I really don’t know how to even begin digesting this properly. Over time I’ve come to love all the modern BG albums (even ATITM, though that took a good while) so hopefully I’ll ‘get’ this one eventually, but right now I’m just left feeling ambivalent and conflicted.

  • antitayyip

    battle beast

  • I have heard this album a lot for a review for a local radio here in Venezuela, and while i love the orchestration and the atmosphere, there is something wrong in the sound of everything. I mean is not wrong wrong, there is something that feels off in the sound. Even with my beautiful High Quality speakers it is has something missing.

    I mean my best description is that when everything got so busy it sounded like a Box of Matchboxes in a party of cockroaches. I love Blind Guardian, and what they achieved but I am hoping for a more natural and crunchy sound on the LP if I can manage to get my hands on it.

    Thanks for the review because I couldn’t agree more

  • Patrick Winter

    Is anyone else finding a myriad of issues with the final mix of this record. The drums seem overly compressed, muffled and lost in the back of the mix. There is an overall blending of the instruments across the mix. I think this album seems to have some nice aspects but it suffers from poor production.

  • Zadion

    Yeah, I pretty much fully agree with this review, though At the Edge of Time is definitely a better album. I think my main problem with it is that there isn’t as much stylistic deviation in the album as I typically expect from a Blind Guardian release. Every song on the album can be designated into two categories: symphonic or thrashy. Compare to its predecessor which covered the gamut. For an album of this length, there needs to be more variety, me thinks.

    Still a very solid album though, and “The Throne” is just amazingly epic.

  • Grymm

    Having listened to this album for a good while now, I can definitely agree that, while it’s a great album compositionally, there are a few things keeping me from loving it, besides the production

    Although I disagree with your take on “Grand Parade” (I happen to love it), “The Ninth Wave” just does nothing for me, and as the opener it soured me a bit on the album. Thankfully, it picks up a lot more after that song.

    But my problem is there aren’t many moments that enthrall me like their earlier songs. There’s no “Battlefield”, but there’s also no powerful ballads like “Nightfall” or “Curse My Name” (my all-time favorite Blind Guardian song). I basically like the album a lot when I should be in love with it, given my love for all their prior records.

  • Ralph Plug

    Very good review. I would agree that there is something missing on this record, although I’d say it’s heaps better than A Twist in the Myth and At the Edge of Time, two albums that didn’t do anything for me.

    My biggest problem with Beyond the Red Mirror, is that it’s too much. Way too much. It’s too big, too epic, too majestic, too heavy and at the same time, guitar and drum wise, too metal. In the end, everything drowns in a pool of detail. There is so much happening at the same time that it becomes a strain on the ears, and that’s a shame.

  • Doomdeathrosh

    The attention to detail in this album is insane! and thats what makes it so good. But it kinda falls short to Imaginations. But some stellar work altogether! Nice review AMG! expectations and album have been weighed quite well!

  • This is by far the best, most honest and still respectful review I’ve read on this album. Thumbs up!

  • Innit Bartender

    I never thought I’d say this, but I’m really, really digging this album. I thought I didn’t need any more power metal in my life, yet here it is. Thanks for a very nice review that got me interested in the first place!

  • Refined-Iron Cranium

    > I found myself liking every single track. There are very few moments on here that aren’t epic and engaging and yet Beyond the Red Mirror almost doesn’t feel like more than the sum of its parts.

    That’s exactly how I feel. It all sounds great and wonderfully orchestrated, but it’s also so busy. It’s like having the most amazing cake 11 times in a row. It’s absolutely delicious, but you’ve had enough after the first 4 slices.

    I’m still enjoying it, though. It’s just a really demanding listen.

    • Ironically, this album flows way better with the extra tracks.

  • Steve

    I’m somewhat biased given BG are far and away my favourite band, but this is up there with their best work. The list of bands in the metal genre who try to push their limits while still consistently hitting the mark is very small, but they are definitely one of them. I agree more or less with the reeview but you definitely lost me after saying the opener and closer should be chopped.

    • Mindful Rants

      I completely agree with this. At the beginning I wasn’t feeling this record but a few spins in I started loving it. It’s one of BG’s better albums for sure.

    • Ernesto Aimar

      Totally agree. I like 100% of bg songs, some more, some less…but still each and everyone. No matter which album or which side of them I like the most, they reach me in a way no other band can, at least not with present day albums. Each bg album grows a lot with each listen I take, even “A twist…”, which I consider their weakest effort.

  • Siege Bantayan

    Whenever I’m having a bad day I am going to play the embedded track here. That should give me the kickstart I’m looking for.

  • nunka

    “Despite my enormous respect for the band, I have mixed feelings about Blind Guardian‘s post-A Night at the Opera releases.”

    Amen and amen. I’ve been harping to my BG-obsessed friend for years that these guys really peaked on Opera, but she’s blindly in love with the two following albums. I personally consider them colossal disappointments.

    Herr Kürsch and his Merry Men were the band that kickstarted my love for metal in my late teenage years. You could say they were my gateway drug. Honestly, I’d probably never have found myself enjoying metal if not for these crafty German wizards. But something happened to them between 2002 and 2006, something that brutally murdered the magic (and not in a trv kvlt kind of way). I never thought I’d enjoy a new Blind Guardian release again. But then this happens.

    Let’s just say I’m very pleased to be proven wrong.

  • Noobhammer

    As a hardcore Blind-Guardianophile, it’s hard not to be biased with these guys. They got me into metal along with Iced Earth, and their joint project Demons and Wizards. These are the only bands where I actively strived to collect all their discography, reissues and original pressings.

    That being said, I can hear the problems that AMG has with the production. Hansi and Guitars drown out most everything else on my laptop speakers, and with that thought It might be more advantageous to have this album on vinyl, since that is the only time I really listen to music on a good system.

    However, I still must state that I completely fanboyed out while listening to this album at work. I could not help but raise my hand with invisible grapefruit in hand, head held back in power-metal ecstasy. This is a beautiful record and one of their best I think. I especially like how they tried to link it to my favorite album of theirs, Imaginations From The Other Side. It is such a solid piece of work, and they are some of the most talented musicians we have in metal, and I truly am blessed to have had them influence me and my metal journey.

  • Alex Bergomo

    Hi AMG, first of all I would like to thank you for this review… it takes a lot to express a different opinion from the other sheep websites licking the Guardian’s ass and express a purely honest opinion.

    Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love Blind Guardian and they have always been my favorites but it seems like FOR EVERYONE they always shit gold (using a GOT quote).

    Just be honest and say it… not all Guardian’s albums are perfect… many are (Imaginations, Tales and Nightfall) others are good/average (Night, At the Edge but also the first albums) while ONE is BAD (Twist).

    Now my opinion about this piece of work: The first time I listened to it my first instinct was to throw it in the garbage, the suffocated sound of the instruments and the general confusion with the special effect sound was almost unbearable BAD, BAD PRODUCTION…

    Then I started to listen quietly : 1, 2, 3 …. 50 times and it started to grow on me, it’s not an easy one and in this it is similar to Nightfall (Nightfall and Tales are not really catchy, you would agree with me, and need patience to be fully understood).

    Today I’d give Beyond the Red Mirror a 8/10 BUT it’s a real pity because under that fucking foggy sound there is a BG masterpiece, a magic that we haven’t been hearing in more than 15 years…

    TOP: The Ninth Wave, Twilight of the Gods, Holy Grail

  • scrivener

    I found your excellent review because I Googled “red mirror” with “blind guardian” and “mix,” a search I made in response to my first reaction to the new album, which I only picked up this weekend.

    I almost never, ever do this, but I skipped ahead to “Grand Parade” because I’d heard so many good things about it. I couldn’t get thirty seconds into it without hitting stop: the mix was that annoying to me. I’m no audiophile; most of my imported CDs are at 192 kbps and I have cheap desktop speakers. But even I could hear the muddy mess that is this album’s mix. I honestly haven’t had a reaction like this since Metallica’s Death Magnetic, which I did listen to on a good system.

    At first I wasn’t sure. I mean, what do I know about sound, right? So I quickly moved to other songs in my library, just a random assortment of louder music, and they all sounded a thousand times better. Now I don’t know what to do. Invest in better stuff just to better enjoy one album? Or try different pieces of hardware I already own and go with whatever sounds best? All I know is that it’s a shame soooooo much attention to detail was obvously paid in putting this album together, and the final product is completely lacking in audible detail.

    Thanks so much. I needed third-party verification that my ears weren’t deceiving me!

  • pete bailey

    This shit is just that. Shit. Recycled Blackmore riffs lifted notions from Rainbow talky babbling gibberish lyrics if u want this go to the real deal Queen Night at the Opera Rainbow and Rainbow Rising…this is nauseating bs

  • Aggelos Loukatos

    The choir intro of this album is in my opinion its best musical moment. Overall I think it’s a good effort, but as the review points out it lacks songs such as ‘Battlefield’, which stand out and make albums memorable.

    i agree with the score, but I don’t think it’s Blind Guardian’s best album since A Night at the Opera. At the Edge of Time is very underrated from this site… All of its songs are memorable and catchy, and after 6 years I still listen to it from beginning to end enjoying every single song, while Beyond the Red Mirror has already been shelved after a year of its release.

  • Martin Baker

    My favourite BG album so far, followed maybe by Tales from the Twilight World. Never really got into Imaginations, do like Nightfall (especially the more proggy tracks like Curse of Feanor) but the filler tracks of narration do nothing for me. Somewhere Far Beyond somewhere in the middle.