Blind Guardian
Blind Guardian are a German band that has perfected a fusion of speed metal, along with gothic and fantasy-tinged European power metal. This band is somewhat of a new discovery for me but they have been around since the late 80's pumping out neo-classical power and speed metal. Blind Guardian vocalist Hansi Kursch along with Iced Earth's Jon Schaffer, released an excellent cd under the title of Demon & Wizards as well.

Battalions of Fear Blind Guardian-Battalions of Fear (Virgin) 1988

1."Majesty" (7:28)
2."Guardian of the Blind" (5:09)
3."Trial by the Archon" [instrumental] (1:41)
4."Wizard's Crown" (3:48)
5."Run for the Night" (3:33)
6."The Martyr" (6:14)
7."Battalions of Fear" (6:06)
8."By the Gates of Moria" [instrumental] (2:52)
9."Gandalf's Rebirth" [instrumental] (2:10)

I'd swear, by the band picture on the back, that these guys were a young re-incarnation of Iron Maiden. (Hansi has a cool Queensryche shirt on.) Musically, however, Blind Guardian's debut touched on thrash and speed metal while still retaining some of the gallup and essence of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and especially fellow German metallers Helloween. Since I had heard albums like "Imaginations from the Other Side" before hearing this one, this was sort of a shock to me. I must say it was a pleasant shock, as I think I almost like these old platters a bit more than the later discs. OK, maybe not, but it sure is cool hearing Blind Guardian just belt 'em out without all the neo-classical influences and big choruses. "Grandalf's Rebirth" is supposedly a bonus track not available on the original release.

Follow the Blind Blind Guardian-Follow the Blind (Virgin) 1989

1."Inquisition" [instrumental] (:40)
2."Banish from Sanctuary" (5:27)
3."Damned for All Time" (4:57)
4."Follow the Blind" (7:10)
5."Hall of the King" (4:16)
6."Fast to Madness" (5:57)
7."Beyond the Ice" [instrumental] (3:28)
8."Valhalla" (4:56)
9."Don't Break the Circle" (3:28)
10."Barbara Ann/Long Tall Sally" (1:40)

Slightly less raw and thrashy than "Battalions" and some of the neo-classical elements are beginning to show. Still this is another more straight forward speed metal release without all the theatrics and classical elements. . "Don't Break the Circle" is a cover of the Demon song. I'll bet everyone can guess who wrote "Barbara Ann" & "Long Tall Sally."

Tales from the Twilight World Blind Guardian-Tales from the Twilight World (Virgin) 1990

1. "Traveller in Time" (5:59)
2. "Welcome to Dying" (4:47)
3. "Weird Dreams" (1:19)
4. "Lord of the Rings" (3:14)
5. "Goodbye My Friend" (5:33)
6. "Lost in the Twilight Hall" (5:58)
7. "Tommyknockers" (5:09)
8. "Altair 4" (2:26)
9. "Last Candle" (5:59)
10. "Run for the Night" (3:38)

"Tales from the Twilight World" was Blind Guardian's third album, and the one that broke them to a wider audience in Germany and helped score them a major label deal with Virgin Records. By this point Blind Guardian had become masters at their style of technical speed metal, blending powerful Judas Priest heavy metal grooves with a dramatic, neo-classical feel. Helloween's Kai Hansen makes a guest appeance on vocals and guitar as well.

Blind Guardian-Somewhere Far Beyond (Virgin) 1992

1. "Time What is Time" (5:42)
2. "Journey Though the Dark" (4:45)
3. "Black Chamber" (:56)
4. "Theatre of Pain" (4:15)
5. "The Quest for Tanelorn" (5:53)
6. "Ashes to Ashes" (5:58)
7. "The Bard's Song - In The Forest" (3:09)
8. "The Bard's Song - The Hobbit" (3:52)
9. "The Piper's Calling" [instrumental] (:58)
10. "Somewhere Far Beyond" (7:28)
11. "Spread You Little Wings" (4:13)
12. "Trial By Fire" (3:42)
13. "Theatre of Pain" [classic version] (4:13)

Somewhere Far Beyond" is Blind Guardian's major label debut and it is stinking heavy. The first track, "Time What is Time" opens up with a short acoustic intro before going into a heavy Metallica inspired riff. This is one of my all time favorite Blind Guardian tracks because it has a catchy chorus, and incorporates all the things that make Blind Guardian so cool-slow somber acoustic parts, full speed thrash sections, and the ever present neo-classical guitar parts. The same could be said of "The Quest for Tanelorn." "The Piper's Calling" is a short bag pipe instrumental. I actually dig that. Another really cool thing about this cd is the cover of Queen's "Spread You Wings," of which they do a stellar version.

Tokyo Tales Blind Guardian-Tokyo Tales (Virgin) 1993

1. "Inquisition" (:47)
2. "Bansih from Sanctuary" (6:03)
3. "Journey Through the Dark" (5:12)
4. "Traveler in Time" (6:32)
5. "The Quest for Tanelorn"
6. "Goodbye My Friend" (6:28)
7. "Time What Is Time" (6:42)
8. "Majesty" (7:48)
9. "Valhalla" (6:08)
10. "Welcome to Dying" (5:56)
11. "Lost in the Twilight Hall" (7:26)
12. "Barbara Ann" (2:56)

A great live album that showcases this band's incredible speed and musicianship. Live albums usually show what a band is made of. Blind Guardian sound as at home on the stage as in the studio. Strange ending for such a heavy disc, however, with a bizarre cover of "Barbara Ann."

Imaginations from the Other Side Blind Guardian-Imaginations from the Other Side (Virgin) 1995

1. "Imaginations from the Other Side" (7:18)
2. "I'm Alive" (5:29)
3. "Past and Future Secret" (3:47)
4. "Script for My Requiem" (K:08)
5. "Mordredís Song" (5:27)
6. "Born in a Mourning Hall" (5:12)
7. "Bright Eyes" (5:15)
8. "Another Holy War" (4:31)
9. "And the Story Ends" (5:59)

Blind Guardian team up with producer Flemming Rasmussen, who has also produced for Metallica. The result is a good one, as "Imaginations" is one of the band's best discs. Blind Guardian still retains the epic power metal and neo-classical elements but the band's song writing skills and production have reached a peak. "Imaginations from the Other Side" has it all: great songs, tight musicianship, strong vocals and cool cover art to boot.

Blind Guardian-Mr. Sandman (Virgin) 1995

1. "Mr. Sandman" (2:11)
2. "Bright Eyes" [edited version] (4:04)
3. "Hallelujah" (3:18)
4. "Imaginations from the Other Side" [demo version] (7:13)
5. "The Script for My Requiem" [demo version] (7:01)

This is a little German import ep that features a few covers and alternate versions. "Mr. Sandman" is a cover of an oldies song, that I think was written by Russ Ballard. It's sort of a weird choice for a cover. In any case, the song "Hallelujah" is very cool. The two demo tracks are produced almost as well as the album tracks, but are less polished making them sound a bit more heavy and raw.

The Forgotten Tales Blind Guardian-The Forgotten Tales (Virgin) 1996

1. "Mr. Sandman" (2:10)
2. "Surfin' U.S.A." (2:25)
3. "Bright Eyes" (4:22)
4. "Lord of the Rings" (3:56)
5. "Wizard" (3:15)
6. "Spread Your Wings" (4:13)
7. "Mordred's Song" (5:16)
8. "Black Chamber" (1:15)
9. "Bard's Song" [live] ( 4:11)
10. "Barbara Ann/Long Tall Sally" (1:45)
11. "Past and Future Secret" (3:47)
12. "France" (4:42)
13. "Theatre of Pain" (4:15)

The Blind Guardian odds and sods album sporting some bizarre cover songs, b-side tracks, and one live cut. Blind Guardian seem to be fascinated with early American pop rock as most of their choices for covers are of this variety. "Mr. Sandman," "Surfin' U.S.A," and "Barbara Ann/Long Tall Sally" are all well done, but as I said, are odd choices for a speed metal band to cover. "Surfin' U.S.A" is a Beach Boys tune and "Barbra Ann" was a song made famous by the Beach Boys but was written by Jan & Dean, I believe. "France" is a Mike Oldfield cover (another bizarre choice of a cover) and "Spread Your Wings" is an excellent Queen cover, and my personal favorite on the disc.  Much of the original material is classic Blind Guardian but are not ultra heavy. Each of the songs have a commentary written about them, but unfortunately, they are written in German and I can't read them. I tried and could pick out a word here and there but couldn't really make heads or tails of it.

Nightfall in Middle Earth Blind Guardian-Nightfall in Middle Earth (Virgin) 1998

1. "War Wrath" (1:50)
2. "Into The Storm" (4:24)
3. "Lammoth" (:28)
4. "Nightfall" (5:34)
5. "Minstrel" (:32)
6. "Curse Of Feanor" (5:41)
7. "Captured" (:26)
8. "Blood Tears" (5:23)
10. "Mirror Mirror" (5:07)
10. "Face The Truth" (:24)
11. "Noldor (Dead Winter Reigns)" (:51)
12. "Battle Of Sudden Flame" (:44)
13. "Time Stands Still (At The Iron Hill)" (4:53)
14. "Dark Elf" (:23)
15. "Thorn" (6:18)
16. "Eldar" (3:39)
17. "Nom The Wise" (:33)
18. "When Sorrow Sang" (4:25)
19. "Out On The Water" (:44)
20. "Steadfast" (:21)
21. "Dark Passage" (6:01)
22. "Final Chapter (Thus Ends...)" (:48)

"Nightfall in Middle Earth" is a concept album based on Tolkien's "The Simarillion". It was his most Theologically inspired book. The music is heavy and at times played at warp speed. This is a great followup to "Imaginations from the Other Side." Despite having great success in Japan and Germany, this would be the first album to be released in the U.S. Century Media is suppose to re-issue some of their back catalogue as well.

And Then There Was Silence Blind Guardian-And then there was Silence (Virgin) 2001

1. "And then there was Silence" (14:07)
2. "Harvest of Sorrow" (3:39)

A teaser EP for the up and coming full length cd "A Night At the Opera." The fourteen minute epic song that the disc is named after is downright AWESOME! A progressive rock masterpeice that combines the heaviness of days gone by with symphonic elements, some elements that I can only describe as folk music, and thick, layered vocal melodies. I can't wait for the full length cd.

Night At The Opera Blind Guardian-Night at the Opera (Century Media) 2002

1. "Precious Jerusalem" (6:22)
2. "Battlefield" (5:37)
3. "Under the Ice" (5:44)
4. "Sadly Sings Destiny" (6:04)
5. "The Maiden and the Minstrel Knight" (5:30)
6. "Wait for an Answer" (6:30)
7. "The Soulforged" (5:18)
8. "Age of False Innocence" (6:05)
9. "Punishment Divine" (5:45)
10. "And Then There Was Silence" (14:07)
11. "Mies del Dolor" (3:39)

AWESOME!!! There is no other word to describe this cd. Of course the lengthy album closer "And Then There Was Silence" had been released several months earlier, giving us an idea of what to expect on this disc. Certainly the band didn't disappoint. From the mellowdramatic "The Maiden and the Minstrel Knight" to the speed and intensity of "Battlefield" everything is in place. I really can't say enough good things about this disc. As the name of the cd suggests, "Night at the Opera" recalls the symphonic elements and layered vocals of Queen, mixing them with some of the heaviest metal to come from this band yet. There are heavy, complex rhythms, sweeping melodies, and a big production that makes this disc one of the best to come out in this new millennium. "Mies del Dolor" is supposedly a bonus track, however, I'm not sure that all versions don't have this song.

A Twist in the Myth Blind Guardian - A Twist in the Myth (Nuclear Blast Records) 2006

1. "This Will Never End" (5:07)
2. "Otherland" (5:14)
3. "Turn The Page" (4:16)
4. "Fly" (5:43)
5. "Carry The Blessed Home" (4:03)
6. "Another Stranger Me" (4:36)
7. "Straight Through The Mirror" (5:48)
8. "Lionheart" (4:15)
9. "Skalds & Shadows" (3:14)
10. "The Edge" (4:27)
11. "The New Order" (4:49)
12. "Dead Sound of Misery" (5:18)
12. interview (12:41)

Blind Guardian are an oddity to me. I love their early material and was a big fan in the 1990's. Since that time they seem to have grown in popularity, yet my interest has waned. Their recent releases have failed to hold my interest. Still, they have become one of the most highly respected bands in both power metal and prog-metal circles. With that said, their pre-release single "Fly", had generated nervous ticks and screams of outrage with many fans. I am not exactly sure what the uproar was all about, other than the fact that the band pared down the symphonic elements of "Nighfall". Personally I think Blind Guardian have succeeded in creating an album that is far more accessible than it's predecessor. When it was first released I thought that "Night At the Opera" was outstanding. I quickly grew weary of the excess it represented and rarely played it. With "A Twist in the Myth" Blind Guardian have created a technical, yet straightforward Euro Power Metal album. "A Twist In The Myth" is more simple-structured and less complicated than "A Night At The Opera" in both guitar and vocal parts and has many back-to-the-roots elements with several speed metal parts full of double-bass. As a matter of fact, the album opens up with "This Will Never End", which has some elements of thrash and speed metal. However, the overall album seems a bit slower and more mid-paced. This isn't necessarily a bad thing as the songs all stand out fairly well on their own, even after only a few listens. "Night At the Opera" took multiple listens to begin to sink in. The band shows their roots quite a bit on this album with many 70's influences. "Carry the Blessed Home" has a distinct Queen influence and has some of that classic hard rock sound, especially in the guitars. As with past discs, Hansi's vocals are an acquired taste. At times they grate on my nerves, but if I am in the right mood, his voice seems to fit the music perfectly. Overall, I am quite pleased with the changes that band has made on this release and am currently enjoying this CD. Time will tell if "A Twist" will hold up as well as the band's classic material.

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