Blind Guardian - Somewhere Far Beyond

Year of Release: 2000
Label: Century Media
Catalog Number: CMR 7974-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 57:04:00

With the release of their most recent album A Night At The Opera and their pending appearance at Progpower USA III, Blind Guardian are receiving a lot of attention. In fact, the band will host and headline the Blind Guardian Festival in June of 2003; their set will be chosen by the fans -- you can make your suggestions at the offiicial Blind Guardian website linked below. In that spirit, we look back at Blind Guardian's back catalog, beginning with their fourth album Somewhere Far Beyond which was originally released in 1992 and re-released by Century Media in 2000 (Tales From A Twilight World, The Forgotten Tales and Nightfall In Middle Earth have already been reviewed).

I'll admit that this is not a perfect album, and may not be their best. But if you're looking for an album dark heroic fantasy, Blind Guardian is the place to look, and this album underscores that. Hansi Kursch's vocals have just the right amount of grit that there is a sense of reality to the music. That is, if the milieu of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord Of The Rings saga was real, the battle scared warriors of middle earth would indeed sound if they had had little sleep, lots of drink, lots of comaraderie, and lots of cynicism. The energy and power in the band's music drive home all of this feeling, where drums become the clashes of battle, of quickened heartbeats, of war... though not all the tracks here specifically related to Tolkien. Somewhere Far Beyond is more about the internal battles of the conscience, fighting despair and depression. The first track, "Time What Is Time," fits into most of the mold, but isn't Tolkien based. With mention of "replicants," Blade Runner comes to mind; in searching to see if this was, in fact, the inspiration for the track, I find that many who've reviewed this cite it as highlight track. My opinion is the opposite, as I prefer much of what follows more.

"Journey Through The Dark" is a pummeling track, that could easily have become one dimensional with drummer Thomen "The Omen" Stauch simply bashing away, double-bassing until he turned inside out. He does this but mixes it up a bit, too. Guitarist Andre Olbrich plays some tasty solos and leads while vocalist Hansi Kürsch has just the right amount of gruffness. He does seem to speed through they lyrics a little fast, running some of the words together, but overall it is a pleasantly assaultive track.

The two highlights of the album for me are "Theatre Of Pain" and "The Quest Of Tanelorn." There is so much energy in "Theatre Of Pain," their ecological song. I love the orchestral intro, the throaty guitar lead from Olbrich, and the whole feel of the track. It's this kind of symphonic metal that attracted me to the genre. Although keyboards aren't mentioned, it sure sounds like there are some in there providing the "orchestration." They are a little parpy, I suppose (I couldn't help but think of Europe's "The Final Countdown," as this element has a similar tone), and some may prefer a vocalist like Russell Allen for a track like this ... but I can see this as one of the band's signature tunes live. It is followed by "Quest," which is of soundtrack quality, expressing its theme with broad strokes. AThere is something very catchy and memorable about the heroic choruses. The track begins with an acoustic guitar intro (as does the album itself), to voice and electric guitar are added, the latter as a subtle layer, until the core of the song kicks in with heavy percussion and bass. The wild but tight guitar solos are courtesy Kai Hanson, who plays lead throughout most of this track. His guitar tone made me think of Brian May -- and, in fact, subtle hints of Queen can be heard throughout, though not really by direct reference (except the cover of "Spread Your Wings"). What is a nice, but perhaps typical, touch are the choruses. The irony in them is that they sound triumphant in admiting defeat: "on our quest for Tanelorn / We lose our way..."

"The Bard's Song - In The Forest" is a scaled back, acoustic based piece that is the musical accompaniment to the album's cover artwork -- an intimate gathering around a campfire (though it's not a campfire on the cover, but some contraption), the bard leading the warriors in song, holding back the dark evil observing from the woods. One knows that come morning, they will have to face that darkness. The title track is fairly typical for the band, though there is a short bagpipe interlude that seems out of place, though the track itself is preceded by minute-long "The Piper's Calling,"

There are three bonus tracks here, including the already mentioned "Spread Your Wings." When LarryD reviewed The Forgotten Tales, their album of covers and others, he had this to say: "Sheer butchery. Every time I hear this, I imagine Freddy turning over in his grave [...] The music is nailed, the vocals are atrocious." My reaction isn't quite as strong, though I can see what about it Larry didn't like... Also included is "Trial By Fire," a typically punchy BG track, and "Theatre Of Pain (Classic Version)." I don't hear any essential difference between this and the "standard" version. Though, by implication, the symphonic-ness is upped a notch.

It's a good album, and I'd recommend right along with Nightfall In Middle Earth which came after it (barring Forgotten... and the live Tokyo Tales) and Tales From The Twilight World.

Time What is Time (5:42) / Journey Through the Dark (4:45) / Black Chamber (0:56) / Theatre of Pain (4:15) / The Quest For Tanelorn (5:53) / Ashes to Ashes (5:58) / The Bard's Song: In the Forest (3:09) / The Bard's Song: The Hobbit (3:52) / The Piper's Calling (0:58) ) / Somewhere Far Beyond (7:28) / Bonus Tracks: Spread Your Wings (4:13) / Trial By Fire (3:42) / Theatre of Pain (4:13)

Hansi Kürsch - vocals and bass
Andre Olbrich - lead, rhythm and acoustic guitars, backing vocals
"Magnus" Armin Siepen - rhythm and acoustic guitars, backing vocals
Thomen "The Omen" Stauch - drums

Guest musicians:

Piet Sielck - effects and guitars
Mathias Wiesner - effects and bass (11)
Rolfi Köhler - backing vocals
Billy King - backing vocals
Kalle Trapp - backing vocals
Stefan Will - piano
Peter Rübsam - Scottish and Irish bagpipes
Kai Hansen - lead guitar (5)

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: May 18th 2002
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1702
Language: english


[ Back to Reviews Index | Post Comment ]