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Blind Guardian - A Night At The Opera

=Staff's pick

Precious Jerusalem
Under the Ice
Sadly Sings Destiny*
The Maiden and The Minstrel Knight*
Wait For an Answer
The Soulforged*
Age of False Innocense
Punishment Divine
And Then There Was Silence

Genre Heavy Metal
Hansi Kürsch
Tracks 10
André Olbrich
Runningtime 67 Min.
Marcus Siepen
Label Virgin Records
Release 04 March 2002
Thomas Stauch
Country Germany
Similar artists ---

Magnificent, Blind Guardian! My personal belief up to this point was that Blind Guardian was more or less out of the game, and had been reduced to some second class midquality band of the past. The past 2 releases have been too overproduced and they have drowned the harmonies and melodies in pompousness out of this world, which have had as a result that it has been too complicated and hard to get a grip on. But I dare saying that most people that, like me, have had doubts will find their fears shattered to pieces with this album.

Reading interviews with Blind Guardian regarding the making of this album, we get to hear stuff like: every single drumhit had to be put into the computer before laying them for real in the studio which was necessary to make it fit together with the rest, 25-30% of the whole budget for the whole album was spent on the song And Then There Was Silence, which is just as much as the cost of making the whole Somewhere Far Beyond album, all the albums choirs took 18 days to record, and 9 of those were used for And t.t.w.Silence......and so on. Only to record the guitarmelodies and solos took 6 weeks. That built some fears that they had stayed on the prog/symphony road, but - they haven't.

We have already been served a good taster from the album in form of the singel And Then There Was Silence, which was released during December 2001, but that actaully is a bad sign of how the rest of the album sounds like. That song is the most complicated and complex of the album, whereas the rest of the material is more straight ahead and and a bit back to basics. The classic Blind Guardian sound is back, but with the catchyness in the melodies and refrains from the past records intact.

If I in the best kind of way should try to shortly describe this album, it would be something like this: Take the power from Somewhere Far Beyond, add to that the choirs and harmonies from Imaginations From The Other Side/Nightfall in M-E, and finally imagine the whole thing with a new fresh modern attitude with a very heavy and powerful production, where the guitars are given more space and attention than in a long time - both the rhythm and the leadpart. Many times we hear 3 or even 4 guitar leads on top of each other in different harmonies accompanied by marvellous riffs with pounding double bassdrums - and I can tell you: that gives you chills down your spine.

It takes off immediatly with the strong opening of Precious Jerusalem and Battlefield which takes you in an irongrip, and there you are stuck for 65 minutes. No song are really foremore than any other on this album, but worth to mention is Battlefield and The Soulforged. Those songs are among the top 5 of Blind Guardian songs of all time, and can simply be described as - majestic. They are flirting quite a bit with medieval tunes on this one too, but it's done with perfection and isn't overdone at all. It just adds that final extra touch that makes this album so enchanting and majestic.

Even though this album is indeed very technical and complex this time too - the pompousness are still there and the choirs are plenty - it sounds way simpler and straight-on because of the better flow, and the fact that the guitars has been put in front of everything which makes a distinct and compact sound with every riff very clear and distinct, whereas on the past cd's they have got lost behind a wall of....other stuff. I am actually overwhelmed and a bit breathless after a session of listening to this cd from beginning to the end. It's so full of energy into the smallest detail, and the refrains are very catchy. In all previous albums from Blind Guardian I can name at least 1-2 songs that are of a more average or anonymous character, but this time I can't make myself name even one. The standard of the songs are extrememly high, and not one single song individually falls below the 9 point grade this album gets.

The production is splendid, and brings out the heaviness in Blind Guardian that probably always have been laying latent somewhere underneath it all, but here it comes out, and that with a vengeance. It hits you like smack in the face. I replaced A Night at The Opera with Nightfall in M-E in my stereo right after each other and kept the volume and other settings as they were, and - the difference was very significant, in favour of the new album. Nightfall sounded like it had been recorded in my kitchen using a 4-track portable studio. This album is a killer, and Blind Guardian has to be considered as prospects for the title as kings of german metal again.

See also review of: Live Beyond The Spheres , Beyond The Red Mirror , A Twist In The Myth , Fly , Imaginations Through The Looking Glass , Nightfall In Middle-Earth






9 chalices of 10 - Tommy

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