The guys of BLIND GUARDIAN have always had the ambition to renew themselves, but have always kept a certain feeling at the core of their music. That is the reason why I always find something new on every album and still always like them so damn much. On “At The Edge Of Time”, they have both taken the sound in a new direction and partly turned back to draw inspiration from their great 1990s releases.
At the heart of the album is BLIND GUARDIAN’s own brand of Power Metal. Over this fundament, the bard feeling hangs thicker than it has done since “Nightfall In Middle-Earth”. The production is as clear as glass and the overdubs from the last few albums are present here too. What is entirely new is an orchestral influence on a few songs. Old news, you might say, ever heard “A Night At The Opera”? Yes, but while “A Night At The Opera” incorporated symphony in majestic Metal songs, this record has a more organic and massive orchestral influence, which reminds a little bit of what NIGHTWISH did on their giant song “The Poet And The Pendulum”. This is not necessarily better, but definitely different. ”Sacred Worlds” and “Wheel Of Time” showcase this. You can sense that many people have contributed to those songs.
André Olbrich’s and Marcus Siepen’s guitars sound very much like classic BLIND GUARDIAN on here. I think they have looked back a bit to “Imaginations From The Other Side” (and even earlier records). Speedy songs like “Tanelorn (Into The Void)” and “Ride Into Obsession” have definite Speed Metal touches. Frederik Ehmke’s drumming is more BLIND GUARDIAN-styled than on his debut appearance on “A Twist In The Myth”. Hansi Kürsch is as diverse and awesome as ever. Sometimes I feel that there are too many vocal overdubs, but most of the time I just enjoy his great voice and immense imagination and variation in his vocal approach.
With grand orchestration, a strong bard feeling and the well-known Power Metal foundation, this is a real smash hit. There are also a lot of new ideas and instruments used in different ways. This is shown best on “Curse My Name”, the best track of the album, in my opinion. It is somewhere between ballads like “A Past And Future Secret” and shifting mid-tempo songs like “Nightfall”. It lacks electric guitars altogether, but compensates with “A Night At The Opera” complexity and the aforementioned feeling of many people involved.
There is nothing weak to be found on this album. Everything is here. From orchestral monsters like “Wheel Of Time” and “Sacred Worlds” to semi-ballads “War Of The Thrones” and “Curse My Name”, via speedy songs such as “Tanelorn (Into The Void)”, “A Voice In The Dark” and “Ride Into Obsession” and diverse mid-tempo songs like the remaining two, everything bursts with quality. You need this album! It takes its place among BLIND GUARDIAN’s finest releases and continues their tradition of never failing. BLIND GUARDIAN are still the undisputed masters in the art of Metal-forging.
(Online September 9, 2010)