At the Edge of Time
Fantasy Metal, grand epic tales, legends and myths – Yes, Blind Guardian are back
One of the more highly skilled bands who were pioneers of the fantasy-related power/progressive metal genre, Germany’s Blind Guardian, have always been a popular group amongst metalheads since their inception back in 1986. Singer/songwriter and co founder of the band, Hansi Kursch is an impressive, well respected and talented figurehead not only with Blind Guardian but within heavy metal itself. While his trademark vocals are totally unique and recognised by almost every metal fan in the world, Kursch is also a highly sort after vocalist, with guest appearances on albums by bands such as Gamma Ray, Ayreon, Grave Digger, Edguy and Therion. And let’s not forget the forging between Kursch and Iced Earth’s Jon Schaffer with the fantastic Demons & Wizards.
As far as Blind Guardian goes, every album from the debut ‘Battalions of Fear’ back in their speed metal days, right through to ‘A Night at the Opera’ and ‘A Twist in the Myth’ has been great releases. In fact, Blind Guardian have not released a bad album to date, however, many consider ‘A Twist in the Myth’ to be the “weakest” CD in their discography. That’s not a bad thing, considering it is still quite solid as far as power metal albums go.
Now, I’m not the biggest Blind Guardian fan around, even though I’ve thoroughly enjoyed their albums and have the upmost respect for the band; however I am quite excited about the band’s latest album, entitled ‘At the Edge of Time’. One reason being, that from watching the in-game performance of a song called “Sacred”, by Blind Guardian, as a “quest reward” within the video game ‘Sacred 2: Fallen Angel’. Knowing that an extended version of this song would be on the upcoming album, my interest and anticipation grew strongly.
Now ‘At the Edge of Time’ is here and it is most definitely worth the wait, four years since the previous album is long enough; even for the lightest of Blind Guardian fans. The power metal pioneers from Germany have certainly returned with a vengeance, as the new album is one of their best and very epic to say the least. “Sacred Worlds” kicks off the CD (did I already mention it was epic?), nine minutes of unleashed majestic power metal as only Blind Guardian know how, with a full orchestra to boot. While Hansi’s voice is melodic and mesmerising (as always), “Sacred Worlds” features a flurry of furious guitar riffs, dynamic melody and a bombastic presence. Once the catchy chorus has disappeared from your mind after repeating it over and over, you’ll come across the next track entitled “Tanelorn (Into the Void)”; and what another brilliant track this is too. A fast and powerful track here, similar in style to tracks from the ‘Somewhere Far Beyond’ album and the track itself is about the Eternal Champion series of books written by Michael Moorcock, featuring the character Elric (Italian power metal band, Domine have also used material from Eternal Champion in their albums).
After the straightforward, yet impressive “Road of No Release”, we get to the speedy “Ride into Obsession”, based on the series of epic fantasy novels written by American author Robert Jordan, called ‘Wheel of Time’. It’s the shortest track on the album (4:47), but also one of the catchiest and quickest; with Blind Guardian returning to their original speed metal roots. The bards make a return on the ballad “Curse My Name”, with the hearty song featuring flutes (among other instruments) and giving off a medieval mood that makes you move side to side with a large pitcher of ale raised to the sky. The final 5 tracks are all very good, including the multi-structured mid-paced “Valkyries”, the brilliant power charged “A Voice in the Dark” (released as a single before the album) and the CD closer “Wheel of Time”, another epic masterpiece with a middle-eastern influence, orchestras and big choruses.
Like I mentioned before, I’m not the biggest Blind Guardian fan around, but I must say that ‘At the Edge of Time’ completely blew me away from beginning to end. A very emotional and powerful album, which grips you tightly and takes you through an epic metal journey that is sure to tantalise, thrill and kick your ass! One of their biggest CDs to date, ‘At the Edge of Time’ is a dramatic and undeniable improvement from ‘A Twist in the Myth’ and even rivals their best albums from the mid 90’s.
Blind Guardian fans who have been salivating at the mouth in the wait of this album to be released will continue to drool in awe once this CD enters their ear-drums. In actual fact, nearly all metal fans of the power, speed, fantasy and traditional genres should automatically track down ‘At the Edge of Time’ not only because it is Blind Guardian; one of the best power metal bands in the land, but also because the disc is easily in the top 10 best metal albums for 2010.
Also worth mentioning is that the album will be released not only as a regular CD, but also a jewel-case CD, a two or four LP picture set, a pyramid box set, and also a 2CD digipack (featuring alternate versions of album tracks, plus a studio documentary, a video clip and lastly a cover of the John Farnham 80’s classic Aussie hit, “You’re the Voice”). With all that said, what are you waiting for?
(Nuclear Blast Records/Riot! Entertainment)