Blind Guardian – Somewhere Far Beyond
Somewhere Far Beyond
Reviewed by Mark Nagy
Somewhere Far Beyond is, in this reviewers opinion, the most difficult Blind Guardian album to approach, because the songs are a touch incongruent with each other. It’s the beginning of the ‘golden era’ of the band, and the title track, as well as “The Bard’s Song (In the Forest)” are among the band’s immortal classics. Still, the band was going through an awkward transition at this time, as in a few short years they had matured tremendously as songwriters, and grown rapidly in their fan base.
In the development of the band, this is a huge step forward, and easily one of the most important albums in their career, yet, I seldom find it on my play lists, especially the versions present on the albums. Let me explain, if there was ever a classic case for “melodic speed metal”, it would be Somewhere Far Beyond, nearly perfectly embodying the speed and melodic metal genres. Thanks to this, these songs, along with those on the following album, are the perfect songs for the live atmosphere, and as such, have been extensively documented in the band’s official live releases, especially previously mentioned immortal classic “The Bard’s Song (In the Forest)”, in addition, every release cycle seems to treat fans with a new studio version of the track, I think we’re up to 4 now actually.
Taking that in mind, I find myself seldom listening to Somewhere Far Beyond. Not because it’s low quality, but because various re-recordings and live versions bring the songs to life so much more effectively. The future aside, I’ll endeavor to examine this album in context with its release in 1992. Part of the problem above though, is that the album is rather weak from a production standpoint. The guitars, while playing excellent riffs, lack some of the sonic punch that could really drive them home. On the flip side, Hansi’s voice is leaps and bounds ahead of what had been on display in the first three albums. “Somewhere Far Beyond” remains, to this day, among my favorite Blind Guardian songs, and I think really sets the tone for their career moving forward. This is the first album in the Blind Guardian discography I can definitively say is a “can’t miss” experience, as there are number of really, really great classics.
That being understood, it’s still an inconsistent album. The first two tracks are explosive, but I’m not much a fan of “Black Chamber” or “Theater of Pain”, as I think they really interrupt the album’s flow. After that we’re treated to two more explosively fast tracks, followed by two ballads, and then the title track. It’s very awkwardly put together, but I think that’s a consequence of any band trying to put too many slow songs on one album. They’re certainly in the fledgling state of being able to be power metal’s best ballad-smiths, but at this point, their strength is still the faster numbers, and I need more of that for full satisfaction. There’s stuff that’s worth hearing here – stuff that one cannot in good faith call themselves a fan of Blind Guardian without hearing – but after that, it’s entirely possible that their later versions, both studio (In the case of the 46 re-recordings of “The Bard’s Song”) and live, might be more attractive.