There are not many bands on this planet that promoted the concept of
intertwining nerdery and heavy metal more blatantly than Blind
Guardian, although there are some
apparently. With this one though, Blind Guardian hit the mark. What
used to be a not-so-subtle undertone of gnomes on album covers, Hobbits
in songs and general medievalish shitfantasy became a flaming full-on
100% feast for pubescent boys playing Magic cards.
a) The album has Middle-Earth in the title. There, the flood gates
have been opened. Nerd eyes are starting to turn glossy, but that’s not
enough. b) It’s a concept album about, no, you amateurs, not
“Lord of the Rings”, everyone can do that – but the fucken
“Silmarillion”, another book by Tolkien about …whatever, really.
Essential background knowledge if “Lord of the Rings” didn’t satisfy
your Middle-Earthian needs. In other words, if you find yourself reading
it, that’s a sign you might wanna go outside a little more often, or
simply that the “WoW” servers are down. c) “Epic” is a less deferential
attribute you’ll see thrown around with this, and the album mirrors that
by being chock full of theatralic narration interludes. d) Naturally,
it has a nerd-pleasing Andreas Marschall cover, too. I’m not gonna spoil
everything in the intro now though, so for all the details, please
refer to “NIME”‘s character sheet:
After culminating their melodic speed metal style with Imaginations from the other side,
Blind Guardian decided to get a little more pretentious. Luckily for
them, they kept just enough of their old strengths to not fuck up
royally. Quite the contrary, the result works perfectly and is an
absolutely classic concept album. Also, it was one of my personal
gateways into heavy music, as with probably 50 % of all German
metalheads my age. And as it turns out, while my enthusiasm for fantasy
gibberish has diminished a tiny bit, this album is still great after more than ten years of loathing its genre, its chainmail-sporting LARP-playing fans and switching to mostly death, grind and thrash.
If by some interesting circumstances you were required to own one power metal album, this should be it.