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Blind Guardian - Twilight Orchestra: Legacy of the Dark Lands Award winner

Blind Guardian
Twilight Orchestra: Legacy of the Dark Lands
by Eric Poulin at 09 December 2019, 3:54 AM

 BLIND GUARDIAN TWILIGHT ORCHESTRA is the long-awaited symphonic project from the members of BLIND GUARDIAN, this project has been in the works for well over 2 decades and was constantly pushed back, so the band could focus on their own power/progressive metal material. This is the first installment under this moniker, under the title “Legacy of the Dark Lands”. It features only 2 members in Hansi Kürsch and André Olbrich who share the songwriting duties. The album was released back on November 9th through the Nuclear Blast label. It clocks in at over 75 minutes and 24 tracks.

First and fore-most I have been a fan of BLIND GUARDIAN for over 20 years and have had the privilege of seeing them live on 3 different occasions and they are one of those very few bands that control an audience and get an enormous reaction with every song. So, needless to say, I jumped on the occasion to review this album, knowing full well this was not a power metal endeavor by any stretch of the imagination. Usually, I would go through every track but considering there are numerous interludes and intros, I will give more of a general feel of the album by giving some track examples, combined with story points.

There are no drums, no bass or guitars on this project, so if you are looking for the more rock-oriented side of things, you will be sadly disappointed. In its essence this is a Wagnerian approach, filled with emotions, progressions, melancholic parts, as well as very energetic passages. Not to mention the album does not necessarily have the happy tone we are used to (generally) with these band members, it is extremely dark and ominous at times, even in the intro “1618 Ouverture”, it could be the perfect soundtrack to a Dungeons and Dragons adventure.

One thing that adds a great layer to the music is the narration such as in “The Gathering”, similar to what made “Nightfall in Middle-Earth” such an amazing storytelling masterpiece.  In “War Feeds War” we feel the despair and pain in Hansi’s powerful vocals, combined with sounds of battle in the background. It is almost as if the singer is on mountain, pouring his heart out with what he sees below him. The song has such passion and energy that it leaves you completely speechless.

“Dark Cloud's Rising” has a bit more of a joyful tone in the early moments, followed by a message of caution to the leaders of the adventure and how the road ahead is one that goes on forever. “In the Underworld” as the title would indicate has a much grimmer undertone than its predecessor and states the importance of “releasing your demons” and repenting your sins if you wish to survive. The crescendo of this track is absolutely amazing. “The Great Ordeal” really grasps the joy behind the long journey, it has a lot of vocal tracks that are intertwined and values the importance of putting regrets behind in the hope of finding the grail.  Another standout track is “In the Red Dwarf's Tower” which is extremely tense in its presentation and really emphasizes the complexity of the task ahead for the protagonist.  Another very up-tempo piece is “Point of No Return” that has every element I have always enjoyed from the band and could have easily been included as a track on “Beyond the Red Mirror”, easily one of my favorite songs on the album.

In retrospect, I had no idea what to expect from this album and even if I knew what style it would be, I couldn’t have prepared for the journey this album tells the story of. The keyword here is storytelling, as it is done masterfully and is what keeps the listener hooked, wondering what the next chapter will be in the hero’s adventures. Musically, there are no flaws here, every orchestra part has been constructed and composed very carefully. The album shows a lot of complexity and numerous tempo and mood changes. If you enjoy symphonic music, orchestras and a theatrical performance of high quality, I recommend you take the time to listen to the album and dive into its majesty. If you are not used to this genre, keep an open mind and give it a spin.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 9
Production: 10

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. 1618 Ouverture
2. The Gathering
3. War Feeds War
4. Comets and Prophecies
5. Dark Cloud's Rising
6. The Ritual
7. In the Underworld
8. A Secret Society
9. The Great Ordeal
10. Bez
11. In the Red Dwarf's Tower
12. Into the Battle
13. Treason
14. Between the Realms
15. Point of No Return
16. The White Horseman
17. Nephilim
18. Trial and Coronation
19. Harvester of Souls
20. Conquest Is Over
21. This Storm
22. The Great Assault
23. Beyond the Wall
24. A New Beginning
Lineup:
Hansi Kürsch - Vocals, Songwriting
André Olbrich - Songwriting
Record Label: Nuclear Blast
     


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