The German power metal band Blind Guardian seems to be incapable of doing simple or low scale productions. Everything that they do is just so BIG in the same way that Douglas Adams so cleverly attempted to describe the size of space in the Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy! Blind Guardian is another of those power metal bands that delight in over the top concepts and their huge army of fans follow obligingly in their droves. However, I’m sure that this record will test some of them but I think everyone knew that at some stage the band would attempt the extraordinary, an orchestral and classical work.

Blind Guardian
Photocredit: Hans-Martin Issler

Apparently, the seeds of this project were initially planted in 1996 so it has had a germination period of 23-years and is the monstrous child of vocalist Hansi Kürsch and lead guitarist André Olbrich and who would have thought of a Blind Guardian without guitars but with the power of the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra instead? The album was always going to polarise its audience, power metal is designed for grand themes and this is what gives it its majesty and scope but there should always be a time for experimentation too. Just maybe, an orchestral work with its spectacular themes was always going to be a little too much for the rank and file fan but, just sometimes, musicians like to stretch themselves and we have to allow them to do this. The legend that is Roger Waters wrote an opera for goodness sake and a fine job he made of this too but I’m sure that some would have liked The Wall II instead. So, what we have here is a touch operatic with a huge orchestral backing and a story that is part sung and part spoken. It is not an album that you can give a casual listen to but will need repeated plays over an extended period to fully assess it.

Legacy Of The Dark Lands is not what I or many others expected but it is here now and we can either accept or reject it. The choice is yours but we have an expression in the UK, “do not throw the baby out with the bathwater.” In other words, give it time and it could quite grow on you. Trust Blind Guardian, how many times have they let us down in the past?

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