Blind Guardian – At The Edge of Time

Blind Guardian - At the Edge of Time Blind Guardian

At The Edge of Time

01. Sacred Worlds
02. Tanelorn
03. Road Of No Release
04. Ride Into Obsession
05. Curse My Name
06. Valkyries
07. Control The Divine
08. War Of The Thrones
09. A Voice In The Dark
10. Wheel Of Time

[Nuclear Blast | 08/24/10]

After fours years since A Twist In The Myth was released, Blind Guardian have returned with their highly anticipated 9th full-length album At The Edge of Time. These guys certainly know how to build up hype with each new release, as they provide samples, single(s) and up to date news while they finish recording and adding finishing touches to their album, which just gives the fans more to salivate over. Originally a speed metal band on their earlier albums, they eventually gravitated towards writing more epic, progressive (at times) orchestral styled metal, but never straying away from the sound fans are familiar with.

At The Edge of Time beings with a symphonic suite that will put you in the right state of mind for listening to this album and is also the prelude piece to the first song “Sacred Worlds” (which is an extended version of the song “Sacred” that was used in the computer game Sacred 2: Fallen Angel). The extended version of this song is now over 9 minutes long, but never falls flat as the orchestration really gives the track the emotional power the original version lacked, and it’s a great start to the album. “Tanelorn”, which has the same power behind it that you will hear in “Sacred Worlds”, is more of return to the Blind Guardian of old, with speed at the forefront and amazing vocal arrangements. Speaking of vocals, Hansi Kürsch is one of those vocalists who has an unmistakeable sound, especially for his practice of doubletracking and harmonizing his own voice to create the atmosphere of a huge choir. It’s one those qualities that give Blind Guardian their epic sound. “Road of No Release” showcases more of a progressive feel, and is a bit more slower paced, so some might find it not to be as enticing as other songs on the album. Still, the song features a nice chorus that could bring the listener back. “Ride Into Obsession”, one of the highlights of the album roars with a quality lead sequence, a catchy chorus and brings back the aggressiveness that Blind Guardian are better known for.

Now what would a Blind Guardian album be without a bard-like song? “Curse My Name” fills in this void by creating a fantasy atmosphere filled with flutes and chants reminiscent of songs found on earlier albums. The ending builds up with a percussive climax that will get your attention (in case you drifted away). I personally enjoy these songs and it’s probably based around my vision of hobbits getting drunk and singing them. “Valkyries” is one of the most multi-tiered songs on the album, starting off with a brief acoustic intro, then builds up slowly into a melodic/progressive masterpiece and will quickly become a fan favorite.

The next two songs, which were released earlier as singles before the albums release, are based on George R.R. Martin’s fantasy epic A Song of Ice and Fire. Similar to “Curse My Name”, “War of the Thrones” takes a softer, more ballad approach with soothing vocals, and gives the listener a break of sorts before leading into “A Voice In the Dark”, which just explodes with aggression and speed. I know this song gets some mixed reviews from other listeners, but I don’t mind it all, the chorus is catchy and memorable, and the song keeps up it’s pace throughout. Not to mention, the sound is reminiscent of something you would hear off Somewhere Far Beyond. The finale of the album, being nearly 9 minutes long, “Wheel of Time” is one of the best tracks on the album, and it makes sense why it was saved for the end. The orchestration takes center stage and fleshes out the song perfectly, while be accompanied by the melodic, yet savage vocal work of Kürsch. The middle will stand out with it’s majestic symphony that leads to the finale of the song, which at this point, just unfolds into an all out epic wave of intensity and power. A fitting end to an amazing song.

Now, by no means is this album perfect. It has it’s low points, such as certain songs that drag a bit and kill the momentum that other songs setup. They also jump around with different concept ideas from multiple inspirations, instead of just focusing on one central concept. So it kills any continuity the album could have had. But overall, At The Edge of Time is a well-written album. The musicianship and song writing, like with every Blind Guardian album, is stunning, and Hansi’s vocals are as sharp and powerful as always. Suffice to say, I’m pleased with their latest album, but here’s hoping they give us another Nightfall In Middle-Earth when they begin writing their next album.

Blind Guardian – At The Edge of Time gets…

3.5/5

– DA