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Classic Review: Blind Guardian - Battalions of Fear
Blind Guardian
Battalions of Fear

Label: No Remorse Records
Year released: 1988
Duration: 39:20
Tracks: 8
Genre: Speed Metal

Rating: 4.5/5

Review online: March 11, 2009
Reviewed by: Nahsil
Readers Rating
Battalions of Fear

Rated 4.02/5 (80.31%) (64 Votes)

Before Blind Guardian were a recognized force in modern Power Metal (back when they could do no wrong!), they played a ferocious brand of Speed Metal rivaled only by German contemporaries such as Helloween, Running Wild and Rage. Of all the German Speed Metal produced in the 1980s, Battalions of Fear ranks among the most enjoyable and replayable.

The riffs are excellent, but it's truly André Olbrich and his guitar that shine on this album. Olbrich cranks out a plethora of majestic leads that drastically set Battalions of Fear apart from many of its peers; how many Germans in the 1980s possessed the technical skill and compositional talent to play like Olbrich? It's like the guy heard Iron Maiden and decided the leads needed to be played faster, to be more varied and to show up more often. Sounds fucking good to me. Complementing André's guitar wizardry is the always impressive drummer Thomen Stauch, who Blind Guardian MUST regret losing. There's not much to say about Thomen's performance except that he's probably the best at what he does, which is keep the music going with tons of busy fills and a lot of double bass. His rhythms are always interesting, just like Hansi Kursch's bass playing; they both add a lot to the mix even when they aren't being featured in a solo or run.

On the subject of Hansi, he's quite a different monster from his modern self, perhaps you could say underdeveloped, but there's really nothing wrong with his voice unless you want to pick on his accent. There's no A Night at the Opera pomp to be found here, no over-the-top theatrics or excessive layering. The vocal melodies are well-written and Hansi gives it his all, singing with rough power and managing to not sound like anyone else. It isn't his most technical display, but he does more traditional singing than on BG's sophomore album, Follow the Blind, and manages to sound pretty good considering his age and inexperience (something that has never stopped BG from making quality metal; their demos released under the name Lucifer's Heritage are great).

Fans of Speed Metal should already have this classic. Imaginations... may be their most mature release, but Battalions of Fear is a strong debut and a solid addition to the genre.

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