Blind Guardian - A Night At The Opera

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Century Media
Catalog Number: 7995-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 70:45:00

Blind Guardian has come a really long way from the rudimentary power metal origins of Battalions Of Fear. Whereas back then the band was a foursome of enthusiastic and energetic youths whose principal ambition seemed to be tearing down the walls with straight-ahead fierceness and little, if any, regard for subtlety, one can now witness a group of developed musicians with grandiosely epic ambitions, a desire for continual evolution, and a mind for powerful detail. Embracing massive choruses and honing their respective skills has certainly been the wise choice for these German musicians, and the result of their progress has turned them into one of the biggest European metal phenomena, not to mention one of the most illustrious and respected entities belonging to power metal.

Metal Maniacs once touted this act as the most musically significant one since Iron Maiden, or something to that extent, and although that is well on the side of overstating things, the excitement is easy to understand. In the course of its career, Blind Guardian has developed a style that no single other band can even aspire to come close to, combining the edgy rawness of monumental riffs with the instrumental layering of turgid productions and topping it off with Hansi Kürsch's hellfire vocals in a lyrical world of fantasy that has only served to fuel the epic magnitude of every single track released. Hardly any other power metal band could pretend to sound so powerful, and most only daring to try would immediately recoil in meekness. A Night At The Opera is not going to be changing that anytime soon.

Certainly an effort that was highly expected after the release of what many consider the band's brightest moment, Nightfall In Middle Earth, this record brings back much of the heaviness that was somewhat forsook on that predecessor and simultaneously continues the journey into more progressive terrain; a tendency that has had the power metal movement in its vice for some time now. The quantity of riffs is increased while keeping the integrity of power safe, arrangements are inserted in every single nook and corner, instruments and vocals are multitracked in order to give them that extra edge of impact, and songs become small epics unto themselves. The result has indeed become so colossal that the music almost seems a soundtrack for large-scale medieval battles and their microscopic details, evoking the staying power of the immediate results, dabbling at the same time in the way changes are permanently effected on each and every soldier.

Perhaps one of the most transcendental qualities of this band is the aforementioned fact that it not only radiates a strength that would make many of its peers cower helplessly, but also that it has an approach that is incredibly unique, much like Metallica did at one point in the thrash metal world. So it is that when the riveting "Precious Jerusalem" opens up the proceedings, one knows exactly what kind of sonic might one is about to be subjected to, and embraces it with courage and the need for more unforgettable choruses and fierce instrument-voice interplay. And soon enough "Under The Ice," "Sadly Sings Destiny," and "Age Of False Innocence" comply by bringing not only their juggernaut momentum with them, but also interesting and slightly unexpected turns and arrangements that nevertheless remain in the Blind Guardian line of fire. All in all, one could hardly find fault in A Night At The Opera as yet another part of the Blind Guardian legacy. And the impressive moments of memorable impact such as the touching chorus of "The Maiden And The Minstrel Knight," a killer heavy riff on "The Soulforged," and the incredible vocal lines of "Sadly Sings Destiny" only add to that. Perhaps the only qualms that listeners will have are that the album seems to lose some of its steam when nearing the end, especially due to "And Then There Was Silence" coming off more like a disjointed collection of sometimes interesting ideas than a truly well-characterized and cohesive epic (a shame when considering the truly enormous ambition behind the track), and the fact that a few of the songs, despite their forceful impact, get lost in the middle due to excessive changes, some of which shouldn't be there in the first place. But that hardly manages to stop the sonic juggernaut in its destructive path, and one is left helplessly exhausted as the breathtaking experience that A Night At The Opera represents comes to an end and sets Blind Guardian once more on the top of the power metal world.

Precious Jerusalem (6:21) / Battlefield (5:37) / Under the Ice (5:44) / Sadly Sings Destiny (6:04) / The Maiden And The Minstrel Knight (5:30) / Wait For An Answer (6:30) / The Soulforged (5:18) / Age of False Innocence (6:05) / Punishment Divine (5:45) / And Then There Was Silence (14:05) / Bonus Track: Mies del Dolor (3:39)

Hansi Kürsch - vocals, bass
André Olbrich - guitars
Marcus Siepen - guitars
Thomas Stauch - drums

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: April 21st 2002
Reviewer: Marcelo Silveyra

Artist website:
Hits: 1046
Language: english


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