Blind Guardian // Memories of a Time to Come
Rating: 3.5/5.0 — Some memories forgotten and too much nostalgia…
Label: EMI/Virgin
Websites: blind-guardian.com
Release Dates: Out Now Worldwide!

Blind Guardian - Memories of a Time to ComeBlind Guardian, no matter what Steel Druhm has to say about the matter, are living legends. Having produced some of the finest power metal in and since the 90s and pushed the boundaries of what power metal is about, these post-Helloween German thrashers are simply one of my favorite bands. Their Imaginations from the Other Side and Nightfall in Middle-Earth are two of the best albums I own, period, and even after an initial panning their last album really grew on me. While many of their peers have meandered into the purely ridiculous or stagnated, Blind Guardian has continued onwards without looking back and done well for themselves (for the most part). I commented yesterday on Twitter and Facebook that if a band I listen to deserves a Best Of record, it’s Blind Guardian. That wasn’t just a comment out of nowhere, instead that was me reacting to this monster of a digital edition of Memories of a Time to Come. But after three hours of listening to Blind Guardian, I have to say that their ideas of what their best material is and mine don’t seem to quite overlap. Let me explain…

Actually, first let me say that there are two versions of Memories of a Time to Come. There’s the 2 CD version, which has 16 tracks, which include all the ones you’d expect for the most part—starting with “Imaginations from the Other Side,” “Nightfall,” “Ride into Obsession,” and “Somewhere Far Beyond.” All of these tracks have been remixed for shinier production and it definitely shows up on the drums most of all—particularly that the bass drum is way more audible than I remember it being on certain tracks. As with most remixes these days, they’ve also been mastered upwards—but you take the good with the bad, and if they were using “Ride into Obsession” and “Sacred Worlds” as reference points, it would make sense, as At the Edge of Time is their loudest album yet.

Blind Guardian by Hans-Martin IsslerThe CD version also includes some other tracks that you’d expect like “Majesty” and “Valhalla,” and others that surprised me like “The Last Candle,” “This Will Never End” (though now that I think about it, what else were they going to put from A Twist in the Myth?) and “And Then There Was Silence.” And I was frankly shocked that “Battlefield” and “A Past and Future Secret” didn’t make the cut, but the flow works and you can’t deny what a fantastic group of songs these are. But the highlights of this CD are the three re-recordings of “Valhalla,” and the two Bard’s Songs (“The Hobbit” and “In the Forest”). These are updated, sound great and are just a little bit teasing—because certainly a newer version of “Majesty” or other older tracks would have been super cool to hear, as well.

The super, duper digital version includes another 17 tracks on top of these, however, I feel less inclined to be *super* stoked about this because the first part is basically a reworking of the band’s debut album Battalions of Fear which is probably my least favorite BG record that isn’t Forgotten Tales. I understand that nostalgia makes bands do silly shit like re-record entire albums, but this is a tad tiring. Whereas the CD version has a good mix of material from different time periods, being dropped into a reworked version of “Brian” and “Symphonies of Doom,” which never even made the final cut for BoF, and then re-workings of other tracks from the album drops the fan of the band’s later material into the very raw and not terribly auspicious beginnings of the band. Sure, it’s kinda charming—but not that charming. After that, there are some just original versions of tracks from the mid-era—closing with “Time What Is Time,” “A Past and Future Secret” and “The Script for my Requiem.” I guess it just felt like the digital version was half-assed, frankly.

It seems like if you own any of the remastered versions (particularly the remastered version of Battalions of Fear) you don’t need the super special digital version. But for starting out as a new Blind Guardian fan, this is a pretty impressive insight into the career of Germany’s finest heavy metal act. This charts some of, but not all of, the band’s best material from the beginning to now. As die-hard fans, this is probably worth checking out if for no other reason than the new versions of The Bard’s Songs and the super-special digital version may be for you. For new fans, pick up the CDs and see what you like. Figure out what records those tracks are from and go back, they’re worth learning. For the casual fan, well… this probably isn’t really for you anyway. And for this Angry Metal Guy? Well, this is cool and the packaging is gorgeous and it’s worth celebrating the band—but I’ll be over here listening to their albums straight through from Somewhere Far Beyond and forward. I don’t need a best of.. I’ve got an “all of.”

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  • New Valhalla version may have better mixin’ and stuff, but  it just don’t feel right without Kai Hansen’s ear-ripping screams and with elder Hansi’s vocals; also, being a Tales from the twilight world fanboy, I would have loved more remastered or whatever from that album, a revisitation of Weird Dreams or Lord of the Rings for example.  Anyway, fuck me, hail the bards!

  • Zadion

     Yup, I agree completely. This would’ve been better with more epic remixes.

  • No “battlefield”? Bit gutted at that.
    It sounds pretty good, but I kinda fell out of love with BG after their last album which really didn’t click with me… Perhaps it’s time to revisit Imaginations & Nightfall in ME instead and pick up where I left off.

  • I actually like the original Bards song – in the forest, more than this new version. I like the two acoustic guitars and singing more than with added violins and atmosphere.
    I found the unreleased songs to be quite interesting actually. Never knew they had a very Iron Maiden like sound in the beginning.

  • nuiski

    “But the highlights of this CD are the three re-recordings of “Valhalla,” and the two Bard’s Songs (“The Hobbit” and “In the Forest”). ”

    Just to nitpick: “And Then There Was Silence” is also re-recorded on this.

    • Uh, yeah. But maybe the re-recording wasn’t a highlight…

      • nuiski

        All righty then :-)

      • it’s better than the original so I would definitely call it a highlight

  • I agree completely…..I’ve always found them amazing. Hell even  ‘A Twist in the Myth’ grew on me, even though Nightfall is still my favorite album of theirs.

  • the beginning of the digital edition is not a reworking of the Battalions of Fear album it’s the two demos they released prior to recording Battalions while they were still called Lucifer’s Heritage.