Sound — 9
The bands sound it pretty amazing. Before I begin getting into the musical aspects, it's important for everyone to realize this album is a concept album about J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Silmarillion" (which takes place in the same world as the Lord of the Rings, hence the name Nightfall In Middle-earth). There is no denying that Blind Guardian has a good sound. The vocalist's voice is amazingly unique, and he has an amazing range to add. The guitars are likely the shining point here. Almost every real song on this album (I'll get to that in a second) has a solo. There was also a lot of usage of other instruments, including the piano, flutes (and instruments like them), drums (including once in a while a double bass), among others. There is no doubting that Blind Guardian was able to effectively capture the sound of Middle-Earth, yet keep their personal power-metal sound. To add to what I said about their being "real songs", their are also several tracks that are more like listening to an audio book. Either a sentence or stanza sang, and frequently spoken by someone outside of the band I presume from the standpoint of different characters in the story. The standout in terms of these little songs has to be the album opener "War of Wrath" as it includes sounds of battle (swords clashing, warriors shouting) and ends with a perfect introductory spoken-word paragraph. In some ways the shining points in the sound department are negatives (albeit not excessively). For example, a solo in every song makes those songs somewhat boring. It is not like the solo's are "bad", they just are not all that memorable. To add, the songs are written in such a fashion that they become repetative (especially as some go into the realm of 6-minute long). Overall in sound, Blind Guardian is amazing with a few minor faults.
Lyrics — 10
The lyrics are pretty awesome. Sometimes they get corny (Ex: In "Blood Tears" - they say, "Cut off your old friend's hand"). However in this album I do not fault Blind Guardian at all, concidering it is an an absolute nerd, Lord of the Rings fan masterpiece. However, one mild qualm I have is the basic structure of all the songs on this album. Based on this alone I am not sure how Blind Guardian is concidered "progressive." I did not really see anything overly unique to "progress" the genre and music in general. However, that's a mild complaint in the long run. The band does a good job of composing as well, all of the arrangements go well with the lyrics. Not to mention of over-dubbing of the lead singers voice to make things feel more like an opera/chior singing. It is quite enjoyable.
Overall Impression — 10
Overall I am truly impressed by this album. When I look back and see it was put out in the '90s, I find it awesome that the realm of Middle-Earth was already popular in their music. Blind Guardian is definitly the leader of music in the power metal genre, and pieces like this are just images of the band at the top of their game. Some standout songs on this 22-track album include: "War of Wrath", "Nightfall", "Mirror Mirror", and "When Sorrow Sang."