Blind Guardian – Tales From The Twilight World
Tales from the Twilight World
Reviewed by Mark Nagy
Tales From The Twilight World, Blind Guardian’s third album, is really every bit as good a starting place (if not better) than their debut, for those exploring the band’s music. While there were hints of greatness floating around in the band’s first two albums, it is not until this album that they really put together a full presentation of memorable songs. Tales… still isn’t the full picture of Blind Guardian’s brilliance, but it’s getting there. The improvement is evident in the first song, with the incredibly catchy, yet still fast “Traveler in Time”. The tone is set as one that is more professional, but most importantly to the Blind Guardian ethos, a little more magical too. Choir-styled backing vocals are more prominent, and Hansi’s snarl is really beginning to take shape.
Tales From The Twilight World also features Blind Guardian’s first truly effective ballad, “Lord Of The Rings”. The subject matter would be familiar territory for the rest of the band’s career, and creates another essential cog in the well oiled machine of their ever-improving live show. While it is true that Blind Guardian gets better with every album, especially with their heavier tracks, there are several compelling reasons to get familiar with Tales From The Twilight World.
In addition to the aforementioned “Traveller In Time” and “Lord Of The Rings”, one‘s experience of Blind Guardian is incomplete without “Welcome To Dying”, “Goodbye My Friend”, and finally, “The Last Candle”. The vocal melodies present in these songs are brilliant, and such is really the strength of the album. For the speed freaks in the audience, this is also the last album where Blind Guardian keeps the pedal down for nearly the entire album. “Welcome To Dying” is really an essential song in the Blind Guardian catalog, as the shouted refrain has very nearly tempted me into many an awkward situation while wearing headphones in non-metal company.
The last highlight to mention is “Lost In The Twilight Hall”, which, like “Valhalla” before it, features the vocal talents(?) of Kai Hansen (Author’s note: I absolutely love Kai Hansen’s voice, I’m just not sure talent is the word I’m looking for there, please don’t kill me). Unlike “Valhalla”, the collaboration did not lead to a legendary metal anthem of the ages, but the refrain “Look behind the mirror, I’m trapped, in the Twilight Hall”, is rather catchy. It also is rather evident on this and other tracks that the band has somewhat backed away from their previously adamant anti-keyboard stance. The band still does not credit ‘keyboards’ or ‘synths’ on the album, but rather ‘effects’, which are provided by none other than Mr. Piet Sielck. Regardless, this is a step in the right direction towards the band’s eventual masterpieces to come.
As far as drawbacks go, consistency is still a concern, though not as badly as on either of the first 2 albums. “Weird Dreams” is a cool, but unnecessary instrumental, and “Altair 4”, though not by any means boring, really has never stuck with me as a listener. As with much of Blind Guardian’s early catalog, I more often find myself skipping through to the songs that I really enjoy, rather than listening to the album as a whole.