BLIND GUARDIAN - Beyond The Red Mirror (Nuclear Blast)

English:CD-review
  Van Muylem    22 april 2015

It has always been my dream to review Blind Guardian and with this Magnus Opus, the time has come! They have set a new standard, they can call themselves a genre! Don't search for new names as a new milestone has been set out! The storytelling, the music, the voals: it all reaches the sky, making it almost impossible to do better next time!


It’s been over four-and-a-half years since the release of 2010’s At The Edge Of Time album.   In October of 2012, the band settled into Twilight Hall Studios in Grefrath, Germany with producer Charlie Bauerfeind (SAXON, HAMMERFALL, HELLOWEEN) to begin recording Beyond The Red Mirror. For the next two years, the band worked relentlessly at infusing their inimitable, emotion-rich music with classical orchestrations within and throughout. Since that album they worked hard on a wider and stronger sound, resulting in working with three different classical choirs – one from Prague (the Czech Republic), one from Budapest (Hungary), and one from Boston (United States) – plus two grand orchestras featuring 90 musicians each, the brilliant, cumulative talents captured on Beyond The Red Mirror have generated absolutely spellbinding results that - at key moments - mimic the feeling of flying, making this new album everything Blind Guardian fans have been hoping for. After listening to this new album for days I can confirm all the good things! This one is simply the best album so far! I must say that working for The Sacred 2 game (honestly: I loved it and played over 1.000 hours and tried out all the things you can try out) has given them a new drive and launched them into a wider world!

 

These ten new tracks will transport the listeners - via a mysteriously powerful red mirror - into an otherworldly dimension that includes tyrants, gods, and the Holy Grail. And it’s no coincidence that Beyond The Red Mirror bears strong lyrical ties to 1995’s Imaginations From The Other Side, for we are reunited with the young protagonist we first met twenty years ago in the songs Bright Eyes and And The Story Ends who stood before a magic door, unsure whether to make the leap into a new, unknown world or to stay in his own.  Now an adult, the impact of this important moment in the protagonist’s life is the launching point for the entire album. It has all been written, composed and produced in such a way that it sounds as if written for a movie or another great RPG. It wouldn’t surprise me if a game developer starts developing a game based on the stories coming from this album!

 

First track is the orchestral and very dramatic TheNinth Wave. The score reminds me a bit of the last Star Wars movie, but that is just a great thing. Big difference is the mix with the metal minded guitars and Hansi’s vocals. Hansi tell us about the song: “A story between science fiction and fantasy. The story begins with our 1995 album, Imaginations From The Other Side. The two worlds described therein have changed dramatically for the worse since then. While there used to be several passages between the worlds, there is only one gate left now: The Red Mirror. It has to be found at any cost.” At some point the united vocals remind me a bit of what Queen did, but that is an epic thing to do. The feel towards the end is pretty positive, reaching for the Promised Land and the bursting orchestra. More energy and raw power comes with Twilight of the Gods. The orchestra catches you, just as the choir and hammering guitars, the blasting drums … There is a war going on and you can hear it clearly. The guitars and vocals are just yummy! Doing it better might be impossible! Prophecies starts what the title implies, getting closer to the red door, opening a new story and a new direction: looking for the final solution and solving all the bad things that came up in the previous songs and albums. At the edge of time starts softly, but the choir and orchestra blows it up, giving it a more dramatic feel, just as the lyrics. The storytelling is perfectly followed by the music and vice versa. This is simply Blind Guardian at its best! The end opens a door, gives us still hope but keeps the dramatic feel! Ashes of eternity is the search for the Holy Grail and the savior! The music, the vocals: it all blends in perfectly and guides you towards the end of this epic song and powerful guitar play! Once again the vocals will enchant you, overpower your thoughts and mesmerize you until the silence announces a new track! What a power bomb of a track! The Holy Grail feels like gospel on metal or a modern way to tell a story from the holy bible, pretty heavy and pretty confusing. If you forget about the lyrics than this is the moment to get rocked out, banged out and use for the last time all the energy that resides within you and show that you absolutely love Blind Guardian or if you are a guitar freak play some air guitar during the big guitar moments and knock yourself off! Pure heaven! The Throne is a more dramatic track, with well aligned and enforced vocals. An epic battle has been unleashed! This one must be a perfect track for a gig, dramatic in the most theatrical way! It’s also the perfect track to announce Sacred Mind a great track, empowered by the magisterial vocals! Screaming, grunting, holy choir monks chanting … The guitars and drums deliver more fights. Good and evil faces each other; you can hear it and feel it! Once again this proves us how good they have become! Miracle Machine is the shortest track on the album and is a very sensitive ballad, most of the time barely leaded by music (I hear a piano, violins and a cello). This one might tear out some wet drops from out of your eyes (notice the little Queen moment when the vocals sing as united). A great album has to end in a great and bombastic way: Grand Parade has it all! More than 9 minutes to say goodbye and end the spectacle with a big boom! One last show off, one last long and hard blow where everybody jumps in and fights all along, in despair.

 

This is even better than I expected, bigger than my dreams! A new standard has been set by Blind Guardian, they rule and it will be very hard to come even close to their feet! It’s a magical musical gathering creating the best orchestral metal driven album! It’s simply the best Blind Guardian; we might call this genre from now on, the Blind Guardian genre! A milestone has been set out, unsure if others will be able to reach it too! See you on stage, one day!

Here's the teaser:

 

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