Blind Guardian – Nightfall In Middle Earth
Blind Guardian – Nightfall in Middle Earth (1998)
Reviewed by Mark Nagy
This is it, ladies and gentlemen (Ok who am I kidding, this is it, gentlemen): the magnum opus of Blind Guardian’s career, and possibly the magnum opus of power metal on the whole: Nightfall In Middle Earth. 11 songs with an intro track and 10 interludes based on an extremely dry book, released posthumously because the author could never get it finished and published in his lifetime. I know, right?
It’s possible, I suppose, that Blind Guardian decided to start with the worst possible premise for an album, purely to prove a point of how awesome they were, but the dedication to the concept suggests that the band really believed in this. Unlike Tolkein’s ill fated history though, Hansi and company paint an engagingly rich fantasy landscape, with some of the most memorable choruses in the history of the genre. Every song is thick with melody and rich with harmony. Painted against the beautiful compositions stands the roaring voice of Hansi Kursch, recently unshackled from the chains of his bass guitar strap, and set free to be *just* the band’s lead vocalist.
Not only did the band take the driest work from high fantasy’s most beloved author, but it forced the story further down your throat with short interlude passages. For those that are familiar with the album, you’ll know the real insanity of an album that structurally should be so completely terrible, but delivers a final product that certifies as incredible. The reason that it works, where other albums might fail, is the complete commitment to the concept. Even when the album is in the full swing of its massive power, there’s that overarching feel of a ‘bard’s tale’. That way, when the album drops back to something more befitting a medieval minstrel, there’s not a interruption of the flow, but rather a short breather before another legendary song.
Nightfall in Middle Earth is, for these reasons, the absolute pinnacle of the Blind Guardian discography. Every song is essential, and the album as a whole fits together just right. Many of the band’s timeless classics, such as “Mirror Mirror”, “Nightfall”, and “Time Stands Still (At The Iron Hill)” are here. Blind Guardian still had other great material left for the future, and even individual songs that would surpass the material on Nightfall, but as a complete album with regards to consistency of music, strength and execution of concept, and overall performance, this is the absolute peak of their career.
5.0 // 5