Heavy Rewind – Blind Guardian’s Nightfall in Middle Earth

What qualifies an album for this feature? Its name hints that it has something to do with chronology, with old albums to which we return. And that’s definitely a part of it but, for me at least, it’s more about the grandeur of an album and its importance for the genre in which it was released. In that regard at least, there are few albums more deserving of the feature than Nightfall In Middle Earth. While the Blind Guardian albums which preceded it had already established a lot of the modern power metal sound, Nightfall in Middle Earth still represents one of the peaks of the band’s style. It is one of their most complete albums, blending the heavier, thrash influenced sounds of their earlier career with the polish and dexterity of their latter career. It was also the first Blind Guardian album distributed in the US, leading to Blind Guardian’s subsequent international success and massive career. It’s also just a damn fine album, filled with memorable moments.

Heavy Rewind // Cathedral – The Ethereal Mirror

Just two years after their debut, Cathedral pumped up the tempo and incorporated a slew of influences stretching beyond their solid, but somewhat limited, doom metal sound on Forest of Equilibrium. Shades of sludge à la Black Flag and The Melvins are most apparent, but the band reaches further beyond the low-and-slow realm to pull in influences from hard rock, heavy metal and progressive rock. Most importantly, the band’s vibrant personality sheds its skin entirely and reveals its true colors, thanks in large part by an unhinged, dynamic vocal performance from Lee Dorrian. It’s an exceptional combination that slightly edges out the band’s initial groundbreaking efforts. Whereas several bands contributed to the sound developed in part by Cathedral on Forest of Equilibrium, there’s never really been an album that sounds quite like The Ethereal Mirror, and it remains a multifaceted album with reverberations felt in music from the likes of Baroness, Pallbearer and a decent chunk of modern stoner metal.

Heavy Rewind – Psychotic Waltz’s A Social Grace

This Californian band’s first iteration lasted a decade, until 1997 (they are now reunited and working on new music, who’s quality is yet to be tested). During that decade they released four albums, with a clear difference between the first two and the latter two. Those two first album, and the debut especially, are masterclasses in progressive metal and represent to this day some of the best actualization of why progressive metal is great. They are technical but furiously aggressive, drawing from the pools of progressive rock and thrash equally. The result is two fantastically deep albums with the first being a timeless classic which has sadly gone forgotten.

Heavy Rewind – The Rise and Fall and Rise of Cirith Ungol

Luckily, sometimes, in rare cases, lost bands can return. Whether this return involves an actual, physical reappearance of the band members or a renewed interest in the music and recognition of the importance of it to the history of metal, it is something to be cherished and celebrated. One such case is Cirith Ungol, one of the first metal bands. Formed in 1972, Cirith Ungol was one of the bands to first play what will later be recognized as doom metal but also contributed much to progressive metal and power metal, the latter mostly through their lyrics, cover art and track names. And yet, five or so years ago, no one outside of very dedicated circles was even aware these guys existed; what happened?