Pre-listening: BLIND GUARDIAN – Beyond The Red Mirror

Pre-listening: BLIND GUARDIAN – Beyond The Red Mirror

blind guardian -beyondstandardGenre: Power Metal
Rating: 5/5
Label: Nuclear Blast
Release Date: January 30, 2015

Blind Guardian’s tenth studio album Beyond The Red Mirror has finally been released after a long wait of 4 and a half years since their last release At The Edge Of Time in 2010. The band itself doesn’t need any special introduction but I’ll do it anyway. The bands frontman, vocalist and the mind behind the epic stories listeners embark on their albums is Hansi Kürsch, also known as The Bard. Two other original members of the band that have played on all 10 albums and virtuosos on the guitars are André Olbrich and Marcus Siepen. The last core member of the band is the drummer Frederik Ehmke, who also plays the flute and bagpipes.
Off course, that is not the entire lineup, and I won’t name everyone playing on it since the list would count around 250 people! And no, that is not a typo. On this album the band worked with three choirs, one each from Prague, Budapest and Boston, and with two full-scale orchestras with 90 members apiece.

After being so long in the making and the production on it grand the expectations from this album were immense, and the band delivered. Beyond The Red Mirror picks up on their 1995 album Imaginations From The Other Side. It’s a sequel to it, and follows the protagonist we’ve met in “Bright Eyes” and “And The Story Ends”. The albums themselves are different in style, although at times you can hear something that will remind you of Imaginations From The Other Side, it is done precisely to underline that Beyond The Red Mirror is a conceptual sequel in which the two world described on Imaginations From The Other Side have worsened dramatically and their only hope is to find the last portal between them at any cost – The Red Mirror.

This album is immense and immersive and I must say that you have to take time and listen to it properly and focus solely on it to fully appreciate all the nuances of it. I listened to it about a dozen times now, and I keep discovering new “hidden” parts within it every time to my great pleasure. I won’t get into every song in detail and rob you the pleasure of exploring it on your own, but I will mention some of them. “The Ninth Wave” is the opening track of the album, and I must say I’ll be really surprised if it won’t be the opening number of their upcoming tour. The start just evokes images of the band coming to stage during the intro and pushing the crowd into a frenzy, similar to what “Sacred World” did on their last album.
Each other track album is unique in its own way and I’ll just single out “Prophecies”, “The Holy Grail” and “The Throne” because of personal preference. The album closes in a grand manner in which it opens with the track aptly named “Grand Parade”. In October 2013 Hansi described this song during writing as a mix between “Wheel Of Time” and “Nightfall” with a beautiful orchestration to give as a sense what we should expect, and he didn’t mislead us. “Grand Parade” is the most epic track on the album and it closes Beyond The Red Mirror in a magnificent way. I wouldn’t say it’s the most epic song they’ve ever done, since the competition for that title is fierce. It’s definitely among their top epic tracks, but in my opinion the title holder still remains “And Then There Was Silence”.

To sum up, Blind Guardian delivered what they promised us, an album that pushes their music forward. Even after almost 30 years they manage to reinvent themselves. Instead of changing genres, they keep pushing power metal to its boundaries and I can honestly say they’re in a league of their own, and we will soon, if not already, have to find a word to describe their music since you can say epic only so many times. I only hope that the band will not follow their new album release progression since that would mean we will get their next album around 2020, and the fans are ever hungry for their music.

Tracklist:
The Ninth Wave
Twilight Of The Gods
Prophecies
At The Edge Of Time
Ashes Of Eternity
The Holy Grail
The Throne
Sacred Mind
Miracle Machine
Grand Parade
Duration: 65 minutes 21 seconds

If you can’t get enough of Blind Guardian, I’ll remind you that they’re going on a new tour and you can see them playing near by on May 19th in Belgrade, May 21st in Ljubljana and May 23rd in Vienna. Unfortunately, Zagreb will be skipped on this tour which is a shame, but it won’t be the first time Croatian fans had to travel abroad to immerse themselves in the stories of Blind Guardian.

Matija Marković

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