Metal Hammer (UK)


Legacy Of The Dark Lands NUCLEAR BLAST


German power metal mainstays head off on a wild tangent

these German pioneers have been dancing along the thin line between madness and genius since their 1995 concept album, Imaginatio­ns From The

Other Side, hoisted them to the cutting edge of a genre often derided for its OTT grandiosit­y. The notion of an entirely orchestral Blind Guardian album has cropped up in interviews ever since as evidence of the quartet’s urge to challenge, diversify and think big. Some will doubtless think it a pretentiou­s folly; even with the ‘Twilight Orchestra’ rebranding, many reacted to this album’s stirring advance cut, Point Of No Return, with aggrieved bemusement and cries of “Where’s the guitar?!”

However, it should be said, this is neither symphony, concerto, opera, nor a metal album with the metal removed, nor the sort of ‘old riffs on synthesise­d strings’ idea that Cradle Of Filth and My Dying Bride both had circa 2011. These are proper, meaty Blind Guardian songs, performed by the Prague Filmharmon­ic Orchestra, alternatin­g with brief tracks of bespoke spoken word; the actors from 1998’s Nightfall In Middle Earth have returned to bring to life a complex concept about apocalypti­c secrets, functionin­g as a sequel to German author Markus Heitz’s fantasy novel, The Dark Lands. So the cinematic soundtrack vibe permeates, but if you’re not fussed about following the story, the dropped-in dialogue may feel rather like the LP is being continuall­y interrupte­d by a particular­ly esoteric Radio 4 afternoon drama.

Although it deals with the same contrasts of light and shade, glory and sorrow, aggression and tenderness that you’d expect from Blind Guardian, this is totally its own thing, a complete one-of-a-kind recording, so the lack of guitars isn’t an issue for long – especially as singer Hansi Kursch rises to this challenge with such expressive power and conviction.


FOR FANS OF: Carl Orff, Rhapsody Of Fire, Apocalypti­ca CHRIS CHANTLER

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What fresh madness have Blind Guardian wrought?
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