August 27, 2022

The German power metal machine from Krefeld, as you well remember, was one of the very few bands that flew the flag of classic metal high in the nineties and persevered to become one of the biggest bands in their genre. They started their journey as early as 1984 (under the name of Lucifer’s Heritage), before switching to Blind Guardian in 1987 and releasing 11 full-length albums so far. The core of the band – guitarists André Olbrich and Marcus Siepen with bassist/vocalist (and later – only vocalist) Hansi Kürsch – has remained solid for all these years, with present members Frederik Ehmke joining on drums in 2005 and Johan van Stratum playing the bass since last year.

There are three distinctive periods in the band’s discography – the first three albums (Battalions Of Fear through Tales From The Twilight World), which were the most speed metal oriented (even the mighty Kai Hansen guested on all of them, which speaks for itself!), the second very strong nineties “trinity” under bigger labels (Somewhere Far Beyond through Nightfall In Middle-Earth), which contain their strongest material for me, and, everything after A Night At The Opera (2002) with introduced much more complexity, progressiveness, longer compositions, orchestral parts and (unfortunately) less speed metal parts. The culmination of that latest period came with the long-awaited and delayed Twilight Orchestra: Legacy Of The Dark Lands from 2019, which was a double (!) album of orchestral, soundtrack-like music, with no guitars – a great disappointment to some and a triumph to others. The last two decades marked a slow but undeniable division between the fans of the older speed metal stuff, who glorified the first five albums and hated the last five and vice-versa, with Nightfall (just in the middle) having its own legion of devoted fans. The twelfth full length The God Machine is coming out next Friday (September 2nd) through Nuclear Blast and convincingly marks the start of a new era.

There were as many as four singles already released from the album (Violent Shadows, Deliver Us From Evil, Secrets Of The American Gods and Blood Of The Elves), all of which showed an old-school approach to composing, with a lot of heaviness, speed and memorable melodies. Secrets Of The American Gods is the album’s epic, with the orchestration only being a needed accent, but not overpowering the guitars, and most importantly – not overlong and bloated, grasping the listener’s attention from the first to the last minute. Damnation, Violent Shadows and Blood Of The Elves could easily be placed in either of Blind Guardian’s nineties classics, with great guitars, fantastic solos by André, fast tempos and beautiful choruses. This is what we wanted, guys! Finally! While being ambitious and honest musical representations of what Blind Guardian were at the time, honestly, albums like Beyond The Red Mirror or At The Edge Of Time didn’t have the hooks and song-oriented search for the perfect melody, which makes The God Machine an album of replay value more than anything released in the last 20 years. I will give you a very simple example – listen to the solo that starts at 2:50 minutes in the melancholic semi-ballad Let It Be No More or the one at 3:51 in the closing opus Destiny. Pure magic and the essence of why we love Blind Guardian so much. Life Beyond The Spheres in my opinion is the only song that adds a bit more progressiveness and complexity in the structure, being closer in spirit to the latest albums, and that’s why it is also the hardest to digest in this otherwise excellent album.

Blind Guardian have made the best present to their old school fans with The God Machine, embracing their identity confidently and stressing heavily on the band’s greatest strengths. As I already mentioned, releasing your best music since 1998 speaks not only of a newfound inspiration, but also of Blind Guardian’s re-confirmation that there are so much more fantastic songs left in them. So, onwards to the next decade!

9/10

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You can pre-order The God Machine from HERE