Album Review: Blind Guardian – Beyond The Red Mirror
13th February 2015, 00:25
Posted by Chris
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The gaps between albums for Blind Guardian feel like an eternity. Every year we seem to ask ourselves ‘when is Blind Guardian releasing new music?’ and continue to get frustrated that we can’t really see anything happening. Yet when that album emerges, through the years we have constantly told ourselves that is was damn well worth the wait. This has been a very unique consistency about Blind Guardian throughout their 30 year plus career, as it is hard to pick out an album that isn’t fantastic in their back catalogue. Finally it’s a year for new Blind Guardian, and whilst we know legs can get tired, can the band still bring us another masterpiece as they have done so time and time again with ‘Beyond The Red Mirror‘?

The short answer is YES. The word yes doesn’t even do the question justice. Answering this question is like being asked ‘Will You Marry Me?’ and being offered a copy of ‘Beyond The Red Mirror‘ on one knee from your significant other. It’s ‘a million times yes!!’.

It’s early on in the review, but it’s too hard to hold back the verdict of this album. But now for the long answer. Just why is ‘Beyond The Red Mirror‘ so good, and why does it stand out over the other masterpieces?

In almost an instant of pressing play on the album, you can tell the budget is much bigger. The opening track, ‘The Ninth Wave‘ features a massive orchestra and choir to kick off the music in the most grandiose fashion, worthy of an epic film and certainly reminiscent of a Globus track – even Vangelis would raise an eyebrow. It is a huge build up, and it’s these kind of epic interludes along with the traditional Blind Guardian sound that craft such a sweet speaker aura. The guitars are now tuned down making a very thick and heavy sound to line up with the music, but guitarists Andre Olbrich and Marcus Siepen have been working together for so long now that even a slightly different approach to the music makes no difference in the flawless harmonies they play together and the traditional guitar overlays that make extreme use of the wah pedal. The drumming of Frederik Ehmke is more progressive, borderline tribal at some points but adds into the flowing musical themes perfectly.

The album is another concept album, but has been created as a sequel to the legendary ‘Imaginations From The Other Side‘ released 20 years ago (feel old?). The album has definitely been written to flow with a concept as each track flows into the next just like a rock opera of epic preportions, but there are certainly anthemic tracks you can pick out to bang your head or wave your arms to. Tracks such as ‘Twilight of the Gods‘ and ‘Ashes of Eternity‘ are real firecrackers, where the bonus track of ‘Distant Memories‘ provide the ‘light this town up’ ballad atmosphere we all crave in live performance.

Beyond The Red Mirror‘ features some of frontman Hansi Kurch’s strongest vocal work to date, working in perfect sync with the massive choir provided to him, and absolutely nailing the solo parts with very intelligent lyric writing despite the musicians taking an even more progressive approach than previous efforts. So progressive that the album actual clocks over 70 minutes with the bonus track, but there is no filler, it is all there for a reason.

Every element is there to diversify and reminisce the sound, something older bands have real trouble doing let alone, but Blind Guardian have crafted every track perfectly and created a perfect metal album here. 5 years was totally worth the wait, and every aspiring metal should take at least something out of Blind Guardian’s book. We will always love Blind Guardian, but it is hard to say that we expected something this spectacular in ‘Beyond The Red Mirror‘. Such a career the band has had, but even with the legendary albums such as ‘Somewhere Far Beyond‘ and ‘Nightfall in Middle Earth‘, this album will be remembered as right up there with the greats. A standing ovation gentlemen, you have quite possibly stolen my album of the year already!