Sound — 9
Wow... I did not have huge expectations of this album, not that Blind Guardian has ever even made a bad album, but I thought it would be, just another album, however, it happens to be much better than what I thought! The sound itself of the album is great, with the exception (in my opinion) of the orchestra and the background music being a bit too loud, to the point where, in some parts of the album, the guitar, bass, and drums almost become the background instruments, with the vocals, and orchestra taking over the primary spot. I do not know, maybe it was the band's, or producer's idea of the album, but it certainly seems a bit weird of a move to me.
Lyrics — 9
As the album came out just today, and I just finished hearing it for the second time, I have not really had much time to read all of the lyrics, and I have focused more on the music itself. I can say though, that I thought that the best part of this album is the incredible atmosphere that Hansi sets throughout, and of course the guitars, drums, bass, and everything else, are factors of the atmosphere too, however, in this album, Hansi's role, is just so much more important than everybody else's.
Overall Impression — 9
I guess that, compared to many artists, Blind Guardian's musical direction, has not changed much in their 20+ years of existence, except for the addition of some more symphonic elements on the last two albums, however, they have always found a way to keep their style fresh, and also result in some great music! Well, I've listened to the album 3 times now, so I will not be able to put too much details to the song by song review, but since I enjoy reading them, I shall make one. 01. Sacred Worlds: 1:25 mins of orchestral buildup, I didn't like it that much so far, but then it goes into this badass riff at 1:49, and the whole song changes from there. It is a rather slow opener, but very powerful, especially, as I mentioned before, with Hansi's vocals! At about 6:20 it gets even more awesome! And a beautiful outro... could be shortened a bit in my opinion, with some of the parts feeling a bit too long, and as I also mentioned before, I wish, at times, that the orchestral stuff, was a bit more in the background while the band is playing, however, it is still a great song. 8.5/10 02. Tanelorn (Into the Void): very old school Guardian, completely different than Sacred Worlds, however, it still flows very well. Very fast, and a very cool song. 8.5/10 03. Road Of No Release: very pretty intro with the piano, and then the guitar coming in on top of it. Gives the impression of being a very slow song throughout, however this is not the case... nothing over the top, however still a good song. 8/10 04. Ride Into Obsession: from the song samples, this was definitely very catchy, with a sick intro, however it becomes pretty average later. 7.5/10 05. Curse My Name: sounds almost like this could be a song that they decided not to put on Nightfall in Middle Earth, anyways, nothing special in my opinion. 7.0/10 06. Valkyries: ok, this is where the album truly gets very special. Every second of this song is incredible, and do not take that as an opinion, it's a fact! This is one of those songs that contains everything, slow, heavy, melodic, atmospheric... you name it, and you've got it! If they don't put this on the set of their new tour, they have made a huge mistake. Would I say that this is the highlight of the album, well, other songs might grow on me, however, right now, I would most definitely have to say YES!. 10/10... no doubt in my mind! 07. Control The Divine: EPIC! as I said before, the first couple of songs are almost like a joke compared to the second half of the album, not that the first songs are bad, by no means, but, it's just not up to par with these songs! Fabulous song! 9.5/10 08. War of the Thrones: on this track, Hansi is truly given the space to shine, with only some beautiful piano pieces in a lot of parts of this song. Actually some of the most beautiful music Blind Guardian has ever made, however, I will say... What where they thinking with the chorus? It isn't bad, but it just does not fit with the way the song starts. Anyways still a 8.5/10... I really wish that they put a different chorus, because it could be so much better. Anyways, that's my opinion. 09. A Voice In The Dark: Andre sure made a cool riff for this one! Good choice for a single. A really cool song, kind of like Tanelorn, very old school, Hansi really takes his voice to all sorts of ranges on this song! You can truly hear those old school Guardian guitar harmonies on this song. Feels like this could fit on Imaginations From The Other Side... 9/10 10. Wheel of Time: very middle-eastern sounding in many parts. They should put one of em sticker labels saying Caution! Extremely Epic! on this album, because, this chorus, is dangerous! Great way to close the album! 9.5/10 All I can say, is WOW! To make a great album is already a great achievement, but to make one 22 years after your debut album is another ballpark! Without a doubt, a solid 9/10! And I say 9/10, in order to leave room for greats such as Somewhere Far Beyond, and Nightfall, but, it is without a doubt another great album by the Bards! Hope you enjoyed my long and boring review haha!