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Blind Guardian - A Twist In The Myth: pre-listening

Written by Niklas, June 2006

On Monday the 29th of May 2006, Metal Covenant were invited to the club Debaser, where Hansi Kürsch and André Olbrich from Blind Guardian gave us an exclusive pre-listening of their forthcoming album A Twist In The Myth, due in September. These are our first impressions of the eleven tracks.

1. This Will Never End
"Awesome opening riff, captivating verses, great chorus." This is the first sentence I write down in my notebook after A Twist In The Myth has started playing out of the speakers. It is a relatively straightforward piece, and one of the few on the album that immediately feels like a winner. Worth noticing is that the drums have such a prominent position on the track. Perhaps a way to emphasize that the new drummer Frederik Ehmke is now a permanent member of the band?

2. Otherland
Definitely the most experimental track on the album. Otherland is quite the opposite of This Will Never End, and therefore a bit difficult to grasp on the first listen. The various tempos and the lack of structure initially makes it feel rather jumbled, but somehow the pieces fall into place come the ending.

3. Turn The Page
Out with the new, in with the old. Is that how they say it? Oh well, Turn The Page is a step back towards the hey-days of Blind Guardian's folk-music inspired era. The song is not quite the kind of sing-along crowdpleaser that the band seem to think it is, but it surely has a chance of becoming something entirely else in a live environment.

4. Fly

A familiar face! You have surely heard the single of the album a few times by now, but it is worth hearing again. The funny intro feels like a modern take on the jazzy theme of the old cult show Peter Gunn, while the little keyboard-hooks during the verses are incredibly charming. Then there is the mighty chorus… This is power metal at its best, ladies and gentlemen.

5. Carry The Blessed Home

Judging by the title, this must be one of the fastest and meanest songs on display, right? Just kidding. This is of course a ballad, and a rather pompous one too. The pace picks up a bit after a while, but the song as a whole is one of the more uninteresting tracks on A Twist In The Myth.

6. Another Stranger Me
A melodic piece in the same vein as Fly, with the rhythm guitar playing an important role. The band themselves seem to hold Another Stranger Me as one of the most successful songs on the record, but to me it seems rather ordinary. Still, it is one of those tracks that most likely will grow on you when given a few more spins.

7. Straight Through The Mirror
The title is a playful nod to the single from the album Nightfall in Middle-Earth, Mirror Mirror. Otherwise, Straight Through The Mirror is, just like Another Stranger Me, a little rockier than your typical Blind Guardian-song. Still, to me it feels like a typical filler-track.

8. Lionheart
After a few not-so-spectacular songs, a very heavy intro (by Blind Guardian-standards) is more than welcomed. It grabs hold of you and rarely lets go, and the solo towards the end is priceless. Easily the the most impressive song on the album, after This Will Never End and Fly.

9. Skalds And Shadows
This track can also be found as a B-side on Fly, although in an entirely acoustic version. I am normally not very fond of this type of "sit down and I shall tell you a tale"-metal, but it must be admitted that Skalds And Shadows has something. The chorus is magnificent as few, and if the journalists gathered around had a few more beers under their vests, they would most likely raise their glasses and bawl along.

10. The Edge
Another heavy intro, and surprisingly enough the pounding guitars follow along into the verses. It would certainly be interesting if Blind Guardian had the guts to present us a song that was downbeat all the way through, instead of writing another full of go-chorus. However, when it is delievered as well as here, it feels stupid to complain. Love at first sight, plain and simple.

11. The New Order
Feels like a good summary of what A Twist In The Myth is all about. The album clocks in at 50 minutes, which is not considerably long comparing to Blind Guardian's two previous full-lengths, A Night At The Opera and Nightfall In Middle-Earth. However, in this context the album feels slightly overlong, perhaps due to Debaser's uncomfortable chairs.

Conclusion: Although there are only a handfull of songs on A Twist In The Myth that feel interesting at first encounter, the rest of the bunch definitely have the potential to become equally impressive after a few more sessions. Alas, the sound system at Debaser was far from great, which might explain why Kürsch's vocals (which are indeed enchanting as usual) sometime drown the guitars. To conclude, since Blind Guardian have come so far in their career, it's difficult to surprise anyone. It's hard to see any of these songs becoming a classic on par with for example Bright Eyes, but the album as a whole actually seems to have potential to become another milestone in their discography, and the fact that it is heavier than previous outings is promising. The three month long wait for A Twist In The Myth's release on September 5th will be long and painful.

See also: interview with Hansi Kürsch and André Olbrich the same night

Niklas - June 2006