Artist: Blind Guardian

Album: At the Edge of Time

Genre: Power/Symphonic/Progressive Metal

Length: 63:58

Producer: Charlie Bauerfeind

It’s 2010 and symphonic metal and power metal have all diversified into infinite sub genres, yet only some bands can pull off a solid album which highlights the uniqueness of both. Blind Guardian’s new album is all that every fan of the band expected and more. If you were disappointed with their last offering, rest assured the band have more than made up for it. The first thing about the album which stands out is that it is way more progressive than their previous stuff, yet it has elements which make it comparable to “Nightfall In Middle Earth” coupled with some neat orchestral arrangements.

The album starts of on a high note with “Sacred Worlds” where a prog-symphonic orchestral arrangement leads in to some captivating and exhilarating rhythm section work. Although the song, which has elements of Dream Theater, provides a decent start to the proceedings, it feels somewhat stagnant and repetitive after the initial buzz. “Tanelorn (Into the Void),” probably the most commercial song from the album is up next. Again, what threatens to hamper the song in the end is its repetitive nature. But it’s fast tempo mixed with a catchy and addictive chorus makes one “cry for Tanelorn.”

A keyboard solo and vocals might not always be a great way to start off a song with, especially straight on the tracks of a fast one, but “Road Of No Release” builds up to become an epic (of sorts) filled with melodies. The song also reminds us of Guardian’s yesteryears. “Ride Into Obsession” has definite shades of thrash mixed with old school German power metal beats. Along with the final track “Wheel Of Time,” this song is also based on the “Wheel of Time” series by Robert Jordan. Coupled with nice thumping bass work, some strong vocal performances create a truly scintillating listening experience on this one.

The fifth song “Curse My Name” starts off in the same vein as their most popular and well know song  “The Bard’s Song.” Some amusing, tongue-in cheek lyrics along with some folk metal elements are all that this album needs at this point to lighten the mood. The song is based on “The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates,” a political writing by John Milton where he legitimizes the killing of a king who didn’t carry out his duties. However, the drums feel just a little out of place on this one.

Half way through the album and in come the Norse Mythology references with “Valkyries.” The drums are much more pronounced here and feel apt for the varied vocal styles being put on display by Hansi. Lyrically quite straight forward, a couple of good guitar solos seal this one as a definite live hit. Up until this point, “Valkyries” is easily the standout track with its infectious choruses. In striking contrast, “Control The Divine” is probably the most monotonous song on the album and might make you push the skip button more than once. On the up-side, vocals again are top notch and the chorus is the only thing saving this song from going under. The second ballad of the album, “War Of The Thrones” (different from the version on the B-side single), is miles ahead of  the first (“Curse My Name”) in terms of its lyrics while also surpassing its predecessor musically. Some good piano work helps transform this song from just an ordinary one to a good sing-along.

“A Voice in the Dark,” released as the first single from the album, is what can easily be labelled as an instant classic and the album’s masterpiece. It possesses the ability to be embraced instantly by all fans of the band. The bass is up front and on some occasions even overshadows the lead guitars. The guitar solos, although short and scattered, have a Celtic feel about them which wraps in nicely with the overall feel of the song. The finale in the form of “Wheel Of Time” continues the story arc from “Ride Into Obsession” and unexpected time-changes galore. Starting off with an Arabic feel, the song builds into a sort of  warcry-esque epic with excellent choruses and neat solos all around, making it a befitting album closer.

Although the whole album might be too hard to get into in one go, especially with all its progressive leanings, a couple of spins and soon enough it promises to become one to be revisited rather often than not. Once again Hansi’s powerful vocals steal the show and in a way guide the fans safely through this new progressive territory. Definitely a much better effort than 2006’s “A Twist In The Myth,” the album is a step in the right direction for the Germans and it won’t be too much of a stretch to label this one as a return to form.

[8/10]

Track Listing:

  1. “Sacred Worlds” – 9:17
  2. “Tanelorn (Into the Void)” – 5:58
  3. “Road of No Release” – 6.30
  4. “Ride into Obsession” – 4.46
  5. “Curse My Name” – 5:52
  6. “Valkyries” – 6:38
  7. “Control the Divine” – 5:26
  8. “War of the Thrones” (piano version) – 4:55
  9. “A Voice in the Dark” – 5:41
  10. “Wheel of Time” – 8:55

Download These: Valkyries, A Voice In The Dark

Saurabh Zutshi

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