Sound — 5
Almost every power/prog metal listener our there in the world keeps saying, Blind Guardian this, Blind Guardian that, Blind Guardian rules, or whatever. Well, me being a fan of progressive, symphonic metal music, and a learning keyboardist, I would like to say that this is a very overrated band and even more overrated album. Blind Guardian, progressive symphonic power metal? C'mon, that's giving them too much credit. How the hell are you guys any symphonic without keyboards or orchestration in every song? It seems to me guitar-overdominated and drowned out with chorus vocals. How dare anyone call this the best metal band in the world? They call themselves orchestral but don't even have an official keyboardist. Only for touring purposes and a guest in later albums. That's all Mathias Wiesner is good for to them. They don't even give a shit about symphonies! All they care is how loud the guitars (the two guitars) overpopulate the production with the 1000-times overdubbed vocals. Even on songs where there are orchestral sounds, they will only use them in the softest spots where guitars aren't featured ("Maiden And The Minstrel Knight"). They are very arrogant musicians who think they are "traveling bards" who could do everything just by vocals, two guitars, and a drummer, with bass and orchestration as less frequent guests! That's not progressive metal, nor orchestral metal. It's just regular, repetitive power metal attempting to juice up their sound with guest musicians who only appear for a few damn seconds to back them up. The bass is a guest too! What the hell! The bass must be freakin' heard! They don't pay debt to the name of great metal music and dismiss the bass as an unimportant, octave-lower notes instrument. In every review of this album I've seen, all they talk about musically is the guitars! I, being exposed to awesome metal music this year, believe guitars are not the only force of a metal band. I beieve in the perfect balance of vocals, guitar, bass, drums, and ultimately, keyboards. So this album has plenty of guitar solos, big deal. I've got plenty of them not that I listen to the genre of music here. And keyboard solos, and even bass solos too! I tell you, there's better music than this. I won't settle for less than quality.
Lyrics — 8
Hansi may be a very talented and operatic singer, but nonetheless, very arrogantly displayed. I am very scornful of him because he's pretty much the mastermind of Blind Guardian, but because he (and guitarist A. Olbrich) insist on keeping their sound guitar-dominated, like a faggot throash metal band. I can't believe I used to listen to thrash. Now it's trash! I'm prog/neo-classical metal all the way man. Not this wannabe stuff who coudn't make a great epic orchestral song if the planet Earth depended on it. Lyricwise, upon first listen witout looking at the lyricsheets, they sound the same thing over again. They may use different themes such as Jerusalem, faith, fate, minstrels songs, but same verse patterns can't help but be noticed. But to be honest, if the music was completely awesome like Rhapsody, I'd give these lyrics 100%. The Iliad is the topic of the 14-minute "And Then There Was Silence." Now, apart from my above criticism, this might as well be the best song on the album and actually fits the genre I love. This at least has full time orchestration, and good band musicianship (albeit still with no bass imput). If I'll buy anything from Blind Guardian, it'll be the ATTWS single disc, even though I may choose in the end to buy a Rhapsody or Nightwish CD. (FYI, I didn't buy this album. Ripped it from another disc). The lyrics (and singing) are actually worth a lot of credit, they just need WAY better instrumentation than this. Even vocal melodies never fail to amaze me here, but wasted on inferior music.
Overall Impression — 7
Since "And Then There Was Silence" the only song here with such big effort (worth the 50% time spent on production). And if you agree, you'd best not buy this album and get the ATTWS single instead. At least the English version of the acoustic bonus track will be there as well, which is not actually a letdown either (Mies del Molor, translated as Harvest Of Sorrow). I think it will be real nice if Blind Guardian and Symphony X did a joint concert playing the whole Iliad And the Odyssey concept with a set list of BG's ATTWS, and SX's The Odyssey, which is one of the best epic songs in the world. But on the other hand, maybe SX can cover ATTWS and do the whole concert themselves, for Michael Pinnella (SX keyboard legend) is like a human orchestra, outplaying wannabes who only play a few chords of background atmosphere. Symphony X would kick the crap out of BG. I can't believe they were touring in suport of BG, BG should be touring in support of them! Far superior band are: Nightwish, Rhapsody, Sonata Arctica, and Symphony X. They believe in orchestral melody, at least. Many people nowadays think that metal is all about riffs and solos, but now that new ideas have emerged, I pronounce metal as the music of creativity, and and aspiration to greatness. Fine keyboards, flawless guitarwork, resolute bass guitars, and creative drum/percussion work. Lets not forget. Brilliant songwriting, vocal excecutions, and lyrical content of the optimistic. Blind Guardian may have attempted this, but I still can't believe they spent 2 years producing an album that is lesser in instrumental worth. Repetitive riffs and overplayed, wah-infested solos are forver dethroned, claimed by memorable harmonies, innovation, creativity, passion, and a soul/life-force crafted in each magnificent note played by EVERY instrument. Blind Guardian still has some more lessons they could learn from my mentioned bands above. I don't mind anyone loving this album, not at all, its just I wish they wouldn't overrate it, calling them the best band in the world, without listening to any innovations of Rhapsody's concept of continuous storylines in albums and standout keys and bass. However, please note that on the bright side, I express some gratitede and credit to Blind Guardian for being a defiance to the nu/death/black "metal" bullf--ks out there in the world. This is better music compared to that, at least.