Blind Guardian - Tales From The Twilight World

Year of Release: 1999
Label: Century Media
Catalog Number: 7962-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 42:02:00

I want to state up front that I do like this kind of music - earnest, sci-fi/horror-esque metal. But there are times when I just know non-fans would find humor in some of the vocal arrangments. I'm thinking specifically of "Tommyknockers," with it's almost sing-song chorus: "Oh last night and the night before/Tommyknockers Tommyknockers/ knocked at your back door." Now, the humor isn't the lyrics of the chorus, but in the earnestness with which they're sung, in this heavy, dark setting. Given the inherent rhythmic pattern of "Tommyknockers," the choral rhythm couldn't be anything else (though this same pattern is repeated in "The Last Candle"). Repeat the word twice to yourself in rapid succession and you'll get it. I've not read the Stephen King novel (or seen the movie), so how representative of the source material it is, I cannot say.

I can see, however, that Shadow Gallery must have had some awareness of Blind Guardian, as the vocals harmonies on the opening track "Traveler In Time" (and throughout the disk) are quite similar. It's darn near 10 years since this disk was first released, so I'm certain the influence has run from BG to SG. Certainly, though, Blind Guardian have been influenced by Iron Maiden - if only in the rolling, thunderous guitar/bass/drum attack. Well, not only, as Iron Maiden (at least during the Dickinson years) used cult media as thematic devices (if Coleridge can be considered cult, I guess).

To wit, if one recalls "To Tame A Land" from Piece Of Mind (for but one example), the backdrop was Robert Heinlein's Dune. Here too Blind Guardian use Dune as a contextual backdrop to "Traveler In Time." Whereas Iron Maiden's was an objective look, Blind Guardian's is subjective, as we can suppose that it is from the point of view of Paul Atreides. Musically, it is far more symphonic than Iron Maiden, though a bit less melodic.

The author with the most influence on progressive rock and metal has to be J.R.R. Tolkien, at least, as I noted in a review elsewhere, in band monikers. Here there is a track called "Lord Of The Rings," which happens to be my favourite on the disk, though it is the less "metal" of the album's 10 tracks.

As much as I like Blind Guardian - the vocal harmonies; Hansi Kürsch's vocals, which are mostly "clean," but have vague growly moments; the playing - nothing here really knocks my socks off. I find it good but typical of the genre. And, I must admit, I find more interest in the lyrical content than in the music itself, though that shouldn't indicate that Kürsch is a lyricist to rival some of the best, or even to rival the writing styles of his sources.

I don't wish to give the music short shrift either, however. This is melodic, warm, and pleasant to listen to. It is well played, but not greatly played. There are better musicians out there making overall better music (Angra comes to mind, in this genre), but BG are no slouches and this is far better than a lot of metal that gets released.

Frankly, though, I find "Goodbye My Friend" a bit ... strange lyrically and inscrutible. Something I'm missing, perhaps; some reference that's not explicitly stated, but I can't quite find the meaning in a lyric like: "I'm a dwarf but I know more than you/and I'm the key to a better life." In the context of the rest of the track, this seems ... strange.

Any fan of progressive metal, who hasn't already checked out Blind Guardian, would do well to do so. Their most recent, Nightfall In Middle Earth is a stronger release, however.

Traveler In Time (5:59) / Welcome To Dying (4:47) / Weird Dreams (1:19) / Lord Of The Rings (3:14) / Goodbye My Friend (5:33) / Lost In The Twilight Hall (5:58) / Tommyknockers (5:09) / Altair 4 (2:26) / The Last Candle (5:59) / Run For The Night (live) (3:38)

Thomen 'The Omen' Stauch - drums
Hansi K?rsch - vocals and bass
Marcus Siepen - guitar and backing vocals
Andre Olbrich - guitar and backing vocals

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: December 13th 1999
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1163
Language: english


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