Blind Guardian – Imaginations From The Other Side

September 3, 2013 in Reviews by Dagg

Blind Guardian Imaginations From The Other SideBlind Guardian – Imaginations From The Other Side (2013)

Written by Mark Nagy

Through the first four albums of their career, Blind Guardian had grown considerably in popularity. They had developed a solid fan base, and people enjoyed the Kai Hansen cameos. They were showing every sign of being a B-list band for the long haul. I say this not to downplay their early career, as they had dedicated niche fans, and enough great live songs to get solid turnouts for a tour. Come their fifth release, Imaginations From The Other Side, the bards broke from the mold and proved themselves in the arena alongside the greatest power metal bands ever.

The album is full of adrenaline-filled power metal classics like the title track, “I’m Alive”, “Born in a Morning Hall”, and “Another Holy War”, and further accentuated by rich and engaging ballads like “Mordred’s Song”, and “A Past and Future Secret”. A couple of notes about the style that’s developing on this album: Vocalist Hansi Kursch and drummer Thomen Stauch really begin to separate themselves from the guitarist duo on this record. While Andre Olbrecht and Marcus Siepen are very capable musicians in their own right, their role gradually becomes that of really good rhythm guitarists, as opposed to much of the shredding leads that were more clearly present on earlier albums.

In fact, as a frequent critic of ballads, I’d like to take a moment here to comment more deeply upon the two gems from this album. After packing more excitement into the first two songs than many of their contemporaries can eek out in an entire career, the album pulls back, significantly. “A Past and Future Secret” features a rich array of flutes, acoustic guitars, and other traditional acoustic instruments. The album’s next track, “Mordred’s Song”, represents a very significant event in “Dagg’s fictionalized-but-believable-account of Blind Guardian’s history”, where, when rehearsing for the album’s recordings, the sound of Hansi Kursch’s voice coming out of the microphone managed to destroy much of the band’s practice facilities and level an entire city block in the process. To this day, Hansi performs all his shows without a microphone.Additionally, the overall tempo has dropped a touch. The songs aren’t ‘slow’ by any stretch of the imagination, but there’s less of the absolute blazing speed that defined, say, Follow The Blind. The band has also fully incorporated the gang choruses and layered vocals. While it has not reached the absurd explosion of the later Night At The Opera, the band’s Queen influence starts to show some real muscle on this record.

However, this doesn’t mean that the band has abandoned its roots by any stretch of the, *ahem*, imagination. There’s still plenty to please fans of the band’s early works, like the furious shredding on “Bright Eyes”, and the retained speed metal onslaught of “Another Holy War”. It’s just that, along with the refined take on the bands roots, here is the foundation of what would make Blind Guardian among the elite power metal acts, featured on songs like “The Script For My Requiem” and “Mordred’s Song”. This being the powerful, distinctive, and wide ranged voice of Hansi Kursch, alongside melodies that are catchy, but still aggressive and powerful.

In my opinion, this makes Imaginations From The Other Side the ideal starting point for someone getting into Blind Guardian. It’s a perfect compromise between new and old, without sacrificing excellence from either. There’s a reason that the band’s live setlist is, to this day, absolutely littered with songs from this record, and those selections typically dwarf whatever album they’re currently touring in support of. If you don’t know why that is, shame on you. Go listen and find out.

4.5 // 5