|Review: Blind Guardian - At the Edge of Time|
|At the Edge of Time|
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Year released: 2010
Genre: Power Metal
Review online: September 10, 2010
Reviewed by: Adam Kohrman
for:At the Edge of Time
I expect more from Blind Guardian than possibly any other band, even after the slightly disappointing A Twist in the Myth, which would have been a great album for any band but Blind Guardian. Here we are with their newest offering, At the Edge of Time, and it's a doozy. They've incorporated some old speed metal influences (for real this time), mixed with some sounds from their heralded mid-period efforts, and even some new bits thrown in there. Hansi's voice didn't leave with his hair, and he's wailing as energetically and as dramatically as ever. Added to the mix is tasteful orchestration, which when necessary, brings a graceful and elegant component to the music. These songs are infectiously catchy, helping raise At the Edge of Time to the position of album of the year contender. Most importantly, though, this album continues Guardian's illustrious and unparalleled career.
After the initial sound clips from this album, my hopes were low. I feared that my favorite band had finally lost steam. I'm so glad to be wrong. Opening up this album is the enveloping and grandiose epic "Sacred Worlds," which uses orchestration to create a vast and towering sound, but without becoming pretentious or showy. It isn't overdone, much like on the closer "Wheel of Time," but simply aids the music and helps it reach an even higher level of profundity. The fast paced songs on here that recall Guardian's earlier, speed metal days like "Ride into Obsession" and "Tanelorn" eschew the nasty brashness of most speed metal in favor of Blind Guardian's classic powerful vitality. Of course, the band always has one slower, medieval sounding song, and here it's the solemn "Curse My Name," which is good, but not among "The Bard's Song" or "A Past and Future Secret."
Where Guardian has always flourished is in their exceptionally powerful, yet gritty choruses. It's no different on At the Edge of Time. Hansi's trademark wail is in full force here, vibrantly lifting songs in the way only he can. Andre Olbrich's unique pinch harmonic twang is present too, a style he perfected on Nightfall in Middle Earth. His solos on this album are so well written; it's truly a breath of fresh air. So many solo are written to simply play notes quickly, but Olbrich actually constructs narratives with his solos. They tell stories and further envelop the listener to the songs, making them even more powerful than they already were. Frederick Ehmke, on his second album with the band, brings much more to the table, as he is accomplished in a wide range of percussive instruments that propel songs, especially "Curse My Name" to levels they could not have reached before.
At the Edge of Time is the perfect direction for Blind Guardian. They are back and in full force. After A Twist in the Myth, many fans rightly doubted their ability to continue to write strong material. Thankfully, those doubts have been proven wrong. While this doesn't rank among the great Blind Guardian albums, it's still a stellar release.
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