Blind Guardian have always been known for their over the top power metal, but their tenth studio album Beyond the Red Mirror, is another level of melodramatic. Don’t let that put you off though, that is how the music is supposed to be. Germany’s premier power metal band have drawn in the talent of three European choirs and two grand orchestras – both made up of 90 talented musicians – to enhance their strong narrative. Their music transports the listener into an otherworldly dimension, a landscape between “science fiction and fantasy,” as described by lead vocalist, Hansi Kursch.
Back in December fans were given the first single from the new album, ‘Twilight of the Gods.’ It’s a great, powerful track, however after listening to the album in its entirety, the single does not act as a good example of what the rest of the album offers. It’s more of a step back to older tracks like ‘Mirror Mirror’, which are dazzled with machine gun riffs and laced with catchy melodies. It’s what fans expect from them, however. While the new album doesn’t have a complete change in sound, there is definitely a shift in musical direction that might surprise fans.
The introductory track ‘The Ninth Wave’ starts as a strange opening for Blind Guardian. The choir at the beginning sound like monks singing which creates an aura of mystery. But it soon turns into the conventional blistering guitar sections and strong power chords before spiralling into an epic chorus. Blind Guardian’s outstanding musicianship shines through as the rest of the album unveils itself. The guitars are relentless and the drums are in perfect beat. While Kursch’s vocals are louder than life and utterly irresistible, with the same harmonic qualities as Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickenson. The band have made everything work flawlessly alongside the orchestra.
Blind Guardian’s music is never melancholy but rather exciting and happy. Songs like ‘The Prophecy’ use the guitar to cast an unbelievably catchy melody and a bold chorus. The progressive structure of ‘The Holy Grail’ that is beckoned with beautiful orchestral elements plus thrashing chords and intricate guitar sections makes you feel like you are going on an epic quest as you reach the song’s climax. The climactic closing track ‘Grand Parade’ is the most cheerful song on the album with the classical instruments offering bouncy melodies that blend perfectly with the additively romantic guitars.
The band have seriously amped up the theatrics on for their new album which some fans might take negatively because at times it can overtake their own musical content. For that reason this album is definitely a grower because their new sound takes getting used too, however. But ultimately, the quality of the music on this album is unprecedented. Beyond the Red Mirror is a musical gem buried in the bizarre sub-genre that is power metal.