Blind Guardian - Nightfall In Middle Earth

Year of Release: 1998
Label: Century Media
Catalog Number: 7961-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 64:35:00

I've seen a bit of recent "talk" on the Perpetual Motion message board about this album; oddly enough, after I had already bought it. So I know that there are some that don't like the presentation of this release - the spoken word interludes being one thing. I think it completes the package and heightens the sense of drama.

And I know there are those who dislike Hansi Kürsh's vocals, given their growly nature, but I have to tell you that I like it - in this context. Here it gives the tracks a gritty realism; the hardened warrior, weary of war. I'm sure that the album cover helps, but there is a certain darkness to the music that lends itself to the story, and Kürsch's vocals are just one part.

Familiar though I am with JRR Tolkien, I have yet to read him, including the book this album is based on, The Silmarillion. Surprising to some, perhaps, given my affection towards Marillion. Nonetheless, of the many things I've read, it isn't yet one of them.*

To me, Blind Guardian sound like a mixture of Iron Maiden and Queen - the first for the occasionally galloping rhythms, the latter for the harmonies used on tracks such as "Nightfall." But, it is Queen on the Brian May penned tunes, rather than the Freddie Mercury penned ones.

This may not be the best progressive metal release ever, or even their best ever, but I really am enjoying listening to it. There is such emotion in Kürsch's vocals as he belts them out, but there is also an awareness of dynamics here, where not everything is sung at full belt. "The Eldar" is downright lyrical, with its sparse arrangment of vocals and piano - maybe untypical for a run-of-the mill metal release, but not here.

Given the topic and the title, Nightfall In Middle Earth, this is a very dark album without a happy ending. I get the sense that this isn't the end of the story ... perhaps to be continued on their next?

If there are criticisms to be handed out, it is that parts of the album sounds the same - the harmonic, melodic lines of the chrous seem to follow the same pattern. While it gives the album overall cohesiveness, it also makes it less dynamic. They know what effect works for them and they use it.

All throughout I couldn't help but think of Rick Wakeman's theatrical projects - far less metallic than this, but all the operatic devices are in place. If you have read the Tolkien tale, you might find this an even richer experience.

It is isn't perfect, but it's pretty darn good and I would recommend it.

[*In the time since I wrote this review, I have started to read it, though - ed.]

War Of Wrath (1:50) / Into The Storm (4:24) / Lammoth (0:28) / Nightfall (5:34) / The Minstrel (0:32) / The Curse Of Feanor (5:41) / Captured (0:26) / Blood Tears (5:28) / Mirror Mirror (5:07) / Face The Truth (0:24) / Noldor (Dead Winter Reigns) (6:51) / Battle Of Sudden Flame (0:44) / Time Stands Still (At The Iron Mill) (4:53) / The Dark Elf (0:23) / Thorn (6:18) / The Eldar (3:39) / Nom The Wise (0:33) / When Sorrow Sang (4:25) / Out on the Water (0:44) / The Steadfast (0:21) / A Dark Passage (6:01) / Final Chapter (Thus Ends...) (0:48)

Hansi K?rsch - vocals
Andr? Olbrich - guitars
Marcus Siepen - guitars
Thomas Stauch - drums and percussion


Oliver Holzwarth - bass
Mathias Wiesner - keyboards and orchestral effects
Michael Sch?ren - grand piano
Maz Zelzner - flutes
Billy King, Rolf K?hler, Thomas hackman and Olaf Senkbeil - choir
Norman Eshley and Douglas Fielding - narrators

Battalions Of Fear (1988)
Follow The Blind (1989)
Tales From The Twilight World (1990/1999)
Somewhere Far Beyond (1992/2000)
Tokyo Tales (live) (1992)
Imaginations From The Other Side (1995/1999)
The Forgotten Tales (1996)
Nightfall In Middle-Earth (1998)
A Night At The Opera (2002)
Live (2003)
A Twist In The Myth (2006)
At The Edge Of Time (2010)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin DE

Added: September 21st 1999
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1380
Language: english


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