Artist: Blind Guardian
Album: At the Edge of Time
A full year after the release of their previous album, A Twist in the Myth, Blind Guardian finally return with a new album. With all that time to work on it, they should have been able to make a high quality album with great songs. And thankfully they have, though it doesn’t quite reach the heights of Nightfall on Middle-Earth or A Night at the Opera.
The album displays its ambition right from the start, opening with the 9-and-a-half minute “Sacred Worlds”, starting with a full orchestral arrangement before the metal riffs kick in after a couple of minutes. It’s Blind Guardian on top form in a new version of a song bizarrely originally written to appear in the RPG Sacred 2. It isn’t the only massive song either, with the album also closing on the 9 minute long “Wheel of Time”. This manages to mix in middle-eastern melodies with their usual metal to come up with something rather unusual, but building up to their usual powerful multi-tracked chorus.
Sandwiched between the two longest tracks are another eight songs, and while they vary in style, there isn’t actually a bad one amongst them. At the Edge of Time almost feels like it’s a roundup of the band’s career to date. Songs like “Tanelorn (Into the Void)” and “A Voice in the Dark” hark back to their early speed metal days with fast and furious guitar riffs throughout, “Road of No Release” would have fitted in nicely in the Imaginations from the Other Side era and the amazing “Valkyries” brings to mind the sound of their more recent work. “Curse My Name” is another of the medieval style ballads they always like to include in their albums somewhere, and while not quite matching their best bard-like music, it’s still rather good, and “Control the Divine” really brings out Blind Guardian’s prog-rock influences.
What really makes the album is that the band still haven’t lost their knack of writing really powerful and catchy choruses that soar above everything and lodge themselves firmly into your brain. Even the piano driven “War of the Thrones” launches into a memorable folk-ish melody for the chorus. That song also shows off the power of Hansi Kürsch’s vocals to their full, which can occasionally be hidden in some of the heavier songs. Ultimately, the choruses keep the album constantly listenable and though the songs are quite long (only two of them drop below 5 minutes in length), they don’t wear out their welcome.
At the Edge of Time is another great album from Blind Guardian. As mentioned, it doesn’t quite match their very best work, but it’s better than their slightly disappointing previous album and still goes Somewhere Far Beyond what most other metal bands can achieve. (Pun completely intentional, sorry.)
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