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Blind Guardian - A Twist In The Myth (CD)

Blind Guardian
A Twist In The Myth
by Grigoris Chronis at 26 July 2006, 2:03 PM

Who'd think - back in 1989 - that this band would be featured as (maybe) the only one in a sea of 'names' expanding its willpower to the furthest outer limits, still managing to remain 100% Metal at sight. Who would expect a band formed by metalheads for metalheads to survive from its original label's bankruptcy, sign to a major worldwide label, release nothing but - at least - fine albums and eventually 'move' to the zenith of the Metal elite? All that - I repeat - by choosing non-contemporary weapons (than the vast majority of acts fighting to enlist every up-to-date attachment so as to increase sales and popularity a little bit) to enrich an, anyway, superior musical approach. You may like this band, you may not; still, no one can blame Blind Guardian for any potential decline of the Metal music of today (in Europe, at least).
Germany (a leader in the Metal 'deeds' since the mid-80's, the time that Great Britain decided once again to betray its own principles) has offered an endless list of bands/artists that keep the Metal flag high at tough times. Not for the 100% close-minded (me included), but miles away from the pseudo-unprejudiced 'innovative' clans of fake believers, the land of 'wurst mit bier und weiss busen' (sic) stands proud in terms of sticking to the Metal basics (call me Running Wild). And when that does not happen, it's bands like this one reviewed today that upgrade the supremacy of Metal music to its finest heights.
Who was there when Battalions Of Fear was released in 1988? A storming debut album that impressed every non-English speaking fan (this is serious!), this album defined - along with Helloween's Walls Of Jericho (1986, Noise) - the upcoming 'Teutonic' Metal sound we all are now aware of. No Remorse Records did not eventually make it (fellow excellent metallers Heaven's Gate were on the roster at that time), leading the band into new label 'hands' after two more albums, 1989's Follow The Blind and 1990's Tales From The Twilight World. Gaining initial success in Japan, the band did not tend to get 'on the road', instead it focused on improving their songwriting capabilities.
Combing their metallic sound with tons of Metal-related influences (musically and lyrically, we all know this now!) it came to short notice that a grand label would 'hook' 'em sooner or later. Virgin Records appeared after No Remorse Records' disaster and 1992's Somewhere Far Beyond brought tons of new devotees in the quartet's ranks. Still, it was Imaginations From The Other Side (1995) that proved to be the Big Thing. Produced by Flemming Rasmussen (whoever does not know this name, take a look at Metallica's mid-80's sound), this I feel was the peak of Blind Guardian's career.
The bio data stops here. Relevant information can be found anywhere on the Net. But - to be honest - there was a reason for exposing so many 1988-1995 details. Yeap, A Twist In The Myth can easily be considered as the finest moment of the band's post-1995 discography. Prior to the album's street date release I was really looking forward to this effort, even if the band's previous work - A Night At The Opera (2002, Virgin) - was a somehow 'hard to swallow' album (not to say 'boring'). Well, chances can be a good thing in life and Blind Guardian did face the crucial ones. Inking a deal with the Nuclear Blast label and joining forces with a so far unknown drummer named Frederik Ehmke after original skinsman Thomas Stauch left the band would - of course - bring a new vibe to the band. Positive? Negative? Hmmm, that's the point.
This is clearly one of the most technical yet straightforward Euro Metal albums ever released, no questions asked. You won't get into A Twist In The Myth for free, beware of this fact aside from This Will Never End being a storm blasting double-bass monstrous opening track. Hansi Kursch is in marvelous mood, crying out each and every word, while the numerous tempo/style changes did offer nothing less than high energy. Turn The Page - on the other hand - is an intense piece of work, featuring those 'dreamy' choir vocals supported by excellent guitar fills. A tune finely suitable for the Imaginations… album, the voyage begins.
With Turn The Page fans of the 'Tolkien' songwriting of Blind Guardian will applaud. Celtic themes, vivid lead guitar fills all the way; you can figure out the rest. Yet, the following track, Fly, did not manage to draw any attention. A rather weird move to release this as the first single, Fly is somehow 'lost' in its unusually - for this band - heterogeneous 'constituents'. For those having already purchased the CD single: Fly does not do any justice to the whole album (I'd declare the opposite).
The opening tranquility of Carry The Blessed Home is gradually transformed into a 'personal' Kursch epos. This tune could have been from the Nightfall In Middle Earth (1998, Virgin) days; a marvelous lead guitar theme from Andre Olbrich suggests 'positive energy' all the way. Another Stranger Me, to go on with our track-by-track preview, is what I'd put out as the first single. The most 'mainstream' track of the whole album (always for a band like BG) lets 'newbie' Frederik Ehmke reveal his first-class drumming skill. 'Ehmke' speaking, it seems that this guy pushed the rest of the clan to re-bond with their classic sound, something not that obvious in the previous album. His drumming is accurate, faultless to-the-point and as technical as needed for the band's status after nearly 20 years of existence. Really, a fine choice for BG and one of the main 'attractions' of the new album.
Straight Through The Mirror rules! A 'fighting' song with Kursch's voice dominant again. 'Kursch' speaking, I must admit I would not wait for such excellence in the lead vocal parts. Cry me! Hansi kicks ass; the man can now sing everything from Speed Metal to Mike Oldfield-ish eerie tunes. In the appropriate level during the album's mix, we'll be talking about great performances if Hansi can preserve this level onstage. Lionheart, to go on, stands proud as en equal 'next' song. Marvelous leads deal with this cut, too.
Whoever memorizes (now) classics like Bard's Song and Past And Future Secret can add the next one to his/her favorites. Skalds & Shadows could be nothing else than the perfect intermezzo. Great instrumentation by the way. 3'13'' later, though, it's time for some storm blasting again. The Edge takes you to the edge and (how come?) the power of this tune will definitely make its way into the band's live shows. I'd really want to read the lyrics to this one; reminder. The New Order carries a 'cultural' vibe, wrapping up the album in the best possible way. Hansi again delivers ass kicking vocal expressions, while the 'mood' of this song will leave your spirit wondering for some time after the music has stopped; I bet…
Blind Guardian is the 'artistic' Heavy Metal of today. No ethereal 'Goth' elements, no never-ending 'prog' parts, no aggressive 'jump around' riffing. It's just the maturity of a band finely mixing the past, the present and the future. Bite it hard, travel back and forth with it, get lost in different eras, fight and remain a wonderer till the very end. A Twist In The Myth defines the term 'non-quaint Metal fan' in the best possible way. The BG like era 1992-1995 will shine again, I feel.

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
This Will Never End
Otherland
Turn The Page
Fly
Carry The Blessed Home
Another Stranger Me
Straight Through The Mirror
Lionheart
Skalds & Shadows
The Edge
The New Order
Lineup:
Hansi Kursh - Vocals
Marcus Armin Siepen 'Magnus' - Guitar
Andre Olbrich - Guitar
Frederik Ehmke - Drums

Guest Musicians:
Oliver Holzwarth - Bass
Record Label: Nuclear Blast Records
     


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