Blind Guardian has been in the forefront of the German speed/power metal scene since the late 80’s. With fantastical stories and epic opuses, they have not slowed down with time while others have been slowly deteriorating. They still shred their guitars and write amazing melodies!
I pre-ordered the digibook version of the album and was instantly in love with the album the moment I took it out of the packaging. So far I have listened to the whole album over 50 times and my fervent love for this masterpiece has not waned. Originally released January 30th, 2015, this album has become an earlier contender for the album of the year. It has been a long five years since the last album “At the Edge of Time” and it has been well worth the wait!
If you are new to Blind Guardian expect big, booming, Wagner-influenced choruses, guitar shredding, and a multitude of melodies. I absolutely enjoy how Blind Guardian blended romantic-era classical music with rock and metal. I was glad to see that they showed signs of their origins in speed metal with songs like “Ashes of Eternity,” “The Holy Grail,” and “Sacred Mind.”
As far as influences, Blind Guardian tends to be an influence rather than to be influenced by other metal bands. I like how they are influenced by Wagner’s pieces with huge refrains and a sound that fill enormous halls. They definitely do keep some of their old vibe which reminds me of Iron Maiden and other NWOBHM bands. I can also detect a slight Toto influence on “Ashes of Eternity” near the end. I feel like I was listening to “Africa” by Toto.
“Beyond the Red Mirror” is filled to the brim with melodies and heavy, distorted riffs. “The Ninth Wave” is a great (but a little long) opener and displays what to expect for the rest of seventy minutes. Suspiciously consecutive, I really enjoy “At the Edge of Time,” “Ashes of Eternity,” and “Distant Memories,” with all their amazing melodies. My favorite is the final track “Grand Parade” with perhaps the “grandest” of all choruses. I honestly cannot find any song with a chorus with such heaviness or bold declaration. I find almost all the songs quite fulfilling, and memorable; I could probably sing lines from each song on any given day; and I often have a riff or melody stuff in my head for days at a time.
Many people complain about the quality of the production and the awful mixing, but I really did not mind it. Hansi’s voice rises like a phoenix from the music and all the instruments can be heard and are comprehendible. My one problem with the album is the song “Sacred Mind.” I feel like this was a song quickly written and added to the album. I think it lacks some of the substance that the other songs contained.
Overall I really enjoyed this album and it will definitely be featured on my albums of the year list later on. I believe “Beyond the Red Mirror” was worth the wait, and Blind Guardian will have to crunch a lot of time in the studio to come back with an album to contend with their latest.