Nightfall in Middle-Earth
Blind Guardian is a pretty big deal, and what's one more review of one of its albums to the masses? Not much I suppose, but I've recently come to appreciate some of the band's earlier work (for me, this means earlier than A Twist in the Myth, which was my introduction to the band) much more than I used to. In revisiting these albums, I've been able to quickly peg a couple of favorites, with Nightfall in Middle Earth being one of them. This is helped of course, by the fact that I've been dearly in love with the work of Tolkien since reading his monumental trilogy at the age of eight.
While I sincerely feel that NiME is one off the finest homages to Tolkien that I've heard in metal, there is much more to this album than nostalgia and heroic lyricism. However, this is the first of three main reasons that NiME is such a bloody fantastic piece of work. The accuracy of conveying some of the events, characters, and conflicts of Tolkien's is quite stirring. Perhaps these don't come off quite the way that Tolkien would have liked them to, but the spirit of a great world and dark fantasy epic completely saturates every moment of this record.
Secondly, and hand-in-hand with the first, is the musical atmosphere. In particular, the introductions and brief interludes that frequent this album are favorites of mine when the album is listened to in its entirety. The various voices and sound effects that populate these brief pieces add credibility and interest to the album as a whole, as well as instilling the listener with great respect for the lengths to which Blind Guardian went to complete the experience. These aren't third rate Italian flower metal spoken interludes which are overly dramatic and absurdly cheesy, but rather very mixed and colorful spoken additions which are of particular note to those who grew up with the stories of Middle Earth.
Finally, and most importantly for a metal album, is the sheer songwriting strength of the songs on the album. "Into the Storm", the titular "Nightfall", "Mirror Mirror", "Time Stands Still", and "When Sorrow Sang" are examples of the very finest moments of Blind Guardian's songwriting prowess, rivaling even the mighty tunes of Imaginations From The Other Side. I find it impossible to narrow even these tracks down any further in regards to favorites from the album, and the others that I haven't mentioned are not far behind. The choruses are all grand, striking, and epic in a special way that only Blind Guardian can achieve. The band's rather unique guitar tone and arrangement, combined with the unmistakable voice of Hansi, makes for an musical voyage of wonder, malevolence, and rapture.
Saying much more about the album is useless, as there are hundreds of good reviews of this work, and only one album itself. Most of you will have already listened to the stunning musical glory that is but one of the gems in the high-seated crown upon the throne of the Guardian, but any that have not ought to do it and do it soon. This album, while not perfect in every way, and with much that some will inevitably (and foolishly) label as "filler", is a remarkable experience that any true devotee of the genre must at least experience.
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The Protagonist's Rating: 9.5 out of 10