It is a shame that the place was not packed, but at the end of the day it was good for those who attended it. Even beyond his personal brand of perfection, the songs themselves here are the best they'll ever be. You know a band is perfect for a live setting when the entire crowd sings along to the taped intro as is the case at every single Blind Guardian show. I've come around to it somewhat, but it's known as the Thomen Killer for a reason. They formed in 1984 as Lucifer's Heritage by Kürsch, Olbrich, other guitarist Markus Dörk and drummer Thomas Stauch. Don't hassle me about it. The hints of splendorous creation that ran underneath the excellent Ancient Dreams are hammered over the listener's head in the most hamfisted way here, but fuck I wouldn't change it for the world.
So for example, if there are 15 albums for each band, the best record of the bunch will get 30 points, the next will get 29, after that will get 28, and so on down to 1. Playing two sold-out audiences to over 4,000 enthused fans, the show captured how strong, special, and symbiotic the relationship between artist and audience can be. This early era of the band isn't quite as expansive and magniloquent as their symphonic era, but raw and furious German speed metal is one of the greatest short lived subniches in the history of heavy metal and Battalions of Fear showcases why with aplomb. Live as you might imagine, these choruses are sang by the thousands and thousands that are in the audience. There's a lot more to this album than that legendary opener, but it does stand as the clear highlight regardless. New reviews will show up here along with wherever else on the internet they happen to appear on.
So really, Psalms for the Dead is functionally tied with King of the Grey Islands for me, but for the purposes of the Ladder Match, I'm going to put the band's studio swansong a little bit under the debut with Lowe. Not only did they feel they had become better musicians and songwriters; they also penned a very distinct sound in the process, and record labels across Europe began courting them. Honestly, it's pretty indicative of how amazing both of these bands are if I have nothing but good things to say about an album and we're only just barely breaking into the top half of the rankings. And when the public sing their songs, you can see stars in their eyes! There is more of a focus on guitar here, which I think was a conscious decision thanks to the backlash the previous album received and how stark the differences were between those songs and the extremely popular live album that immediately followed, but the focus is still honed in entirely on the keys and melodies so at the end of the day, A Twist in the Myth is just kind of a confused album that was trying to please everybody at once and failing at both. When your most unique feature previously was how unapologetically epic you were with your pomp and composition, a more streamlined and simplistic affair simply isn't going to resonate with fans and that's all there is to it. I'll also use this as an opportunity to review non metal releases since the two sites I've written for are metal exclusive, so there'll be some punk and post rock and such here eventually.
So even if it's easily one of their weaker albums, it's infinitely more interesting than the completely pedestrian Dactylis Glomerata. However in 2005, Stauch left the band, disapproving Blind Guardian's musical orientation into a more progressive sound with a heavy use of backing vocals, and was replaced by Ehkme. His vibrato is absolutely insane, and his command of the human voice is almost unmatched. The best show I have ever been. The album count stands at 10-11 in favor of Candlemass, so according to my own rankings, Death Magic Doom will be eliminated as the median album.
It's just canon to basically every Candlemass fan that this middle era was their lowest point creatively, and to me was more or less just Leif + cronies, as it's fairly well known that this album was more or less intended to be the second Abstrakt Algebra album it even features the entire band minus Mats Levin on vocals , and the only reason Candlemass even came to exist again in the mid 90s was because no labels wanted anything to do with the new band and Leif had to just give up and bring Candlemass back for the sake of name recognition alone. Real fans singing together and making the whole atmosphere very intense. Not only was Robert Lowe the iconic vocalist of the American doom legends, and not only did Solitude Aeturnus play a remarkably similar style to Candlemass in the first place, but Beyond the Crimson Horizon is actually my all time 1 favorite doom metal album ever recorded. This is how I balance consistency with spikes in quality, deal with it, chumps. Over the releases, Blind Guardian established themselves as a notable successful band and as pioneers of the power metal movement.
For their encore, they did Majesty, Valhalla, Bard's Song, The Curse of Feanor, Mirror, Mirror, and closed with a Beach Boys cover. The bright vibrancy is at an all time high, with more melody and more speedy tempos than the band would ever feature before or since, and it's a very exciting and wondrous journey as a result. This legendary 1995 album provided the blueprint for all epic power metal bands to follow for decades to come, with nobody, not even the band themselves, ever truly matching the splendor that explodes from this masterpiece of metal supremacy. This is easily the biggest departure from any previous sound they've ever undertaken, and the heavily symphonic and more or less riffless approach to songwriting is a shame, but if we're being honest with each other, Blind Guardian was never about the riffs, they were always about the melodies, and A Night at the Opera is undeniably loaded with excellent melodies. Epic how we interrupted their line up with 'Guardian, Guardian, Guardian' and tales will be sung how we continued to sing the Valhalla chorus for 10 minutes. But really, the true strength of the album really is that opening string of classics.
That said, it's still not their worst album because there are undeniably some great songs here. In 1987, Siepen joined and Stauch returned; under this line-up, which lasted 18 years, the band changed their name to Blind Guardian and released their first album, Battalions of Fear, in 1988. Absolutely nobody else did it as well as the masters did. Probably the most adventurous disc of Blind Guardian's career and that's saying something with this troupe , A Night at the Opera lives up to its name by channeling Queen's most symphonic arias through a dynamic prog metal background that makes Fate's Warning's most complex licks seem positively pedestrian in comparison with a glorious production that allows every nuance to literally explode from the loudspeakers. Where they set out to be ambitious storytellers, they fell flat on their face by utterly failing at reaching anything resembling consistency as a musical endeavor.
This is about as close to a perfect album as you can get, and it's an eternal monument to Candlemass's complete mastery of music in the late 80s. This is actually going to be a very short entry because fuck, really what can I say about it? The fact that this album seems to have been mostly phased out of live sets is a huge shame, though I do understand why. It really shows, because while this album isn't exactly bad, it's notably a few staircases worth of steps down from their classic era. I won't be giving you sloths download links. This is the third time I see them live. . I see Tales here often shuffled near the bottom because it supposedly ends on a whimper compared to the monstrously strong opening streak of songs, but anybody who believes that is a numpty.
This was a deliberate throwback to their classic era and it was painfully transparent. So glad to see the venue was packed. Grave Digger's merch was slightly more expensive. So the first matchup is against two weighty institutions of metal, both with huge strings of classics to their name that are consistently rated amongst the best in their respective genres. There's a reason so many melodic power metal stalwarts Sonata Arctica, Stratovarius, Rhapsody, etc either didn't start or didn't hit their stride until after this album. Can't wait for them to return! Candlemass always had the atmosphere element of metal in a stranglehold during this time, and their debut here is an exemplary example as to why.
I knew it would be close, but I didn't expect Candlemass to actually take the throne. It warps reality itself, that's all there is to it. Everything is over the top to the nth degree; every refrain is bolstered with a chorus lifted to the heavens; every song is an overwrought epic overture of garish calls to Valhalla; every moment is a grandiose concerto. Anyway I've spent too much time blabbing so let's get to the point. All I can do is point to certain aspects of it and descend into gibbering lunacy about how good it is.