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Album Reviews : Blind Guardian – Beyond the Red Mirror

By on February 7, 2015

BG - Beyond the Red MirrorFive years have passed since the release of Blind Guardian’s highly acclaimed studio album, ‘At the Edge of Time’. Since the closing seconds of that album’s final track “Wheel of Time”, fans have been clamouring for the band’s next release. Now it is finally upon us. It was quite worth the wait.

What should be known first and foremost about ‘Beyond the Red Mirror’ is that lyrically this is a continuation of Blind Guardian’s 1995 album ‘Imaginations from the Other Side’. The world shown there has experienced much change since that time, and both worlds have fallen to darkness. With one gate remaining in the wake of this conflict – the Red Mirror – it must be recovered at all costs.

In similar fashion to ‘At the Edge of Time’, Blind Guardian chose to open and close out the standard edition of the album with two songs that are both 9 minutes 30 seconds in length (“The Ninth Wave” and “Grand Parade” respectively). It creates quite an intense experience that hits you without warning. The sheer multitude of instruments, synths, orchestrations, and more on display here is staggering. The multi-layered tracks leave the likes of “Sacred World” (off ‘At the Edge of Time’) to shame in terms of their complexity alone. That screeching violin that sounds out “The Ninth Wave” builds a harsh, climactic tone that brings a wonderful sense of foreboding to the chaos, sorrow, and beauty that it is about to ensue throughout the rest of the journey.

None of this is surprising, however, given the resources at Blind Guardian’s disposal here. To give ‘Beyond the Red Mirror’ the intense, epic feel the band were clearly after, three separate choirs were used – Prague, Boston, and Budapest – as well as two full orchestras that boasted ninety members each. With the varying nature and cultural styles of these regions, it offers a feeling of worldly authenticity to the music that expands and broadens the scope of the album’s sound. This wonderfully contrasts the band’s own Germanic origins.

What must be mentioned also about this record is that it follows a precise and structured storyline. Unlike ‘At the Edge of Time’, where the tracks stand on their own and thus can be listened to as such, to understand and fully grasp the intended effect and implications adopted in the songwriting, ‘Beyond the Red Mirror’ follows a set order with nine story arcs in total (this number carries over to the two bonus tracks as well). With that in mind, it makes the fact Blind Guardian used sounds and influences from all across their discography all the more fascinating to listen to. In many ways the passage of time shown on this album mirrors – no pun intended – Blind Guardian’s own career. The somewhat chaotic nature of the music in its ever-shifting and colossal form can directly correlate with the album’s own impactful and sizeable story.

Whether it is in the moments of melodic speed metal or in the orchestral and choral backings, the magic and sheer aural intensity of ‘Beyond the Red Mirror’ sets the German bards high. This will be an album that will put all others this year to the test. Blind Guardian has yet again proven how unique their sound is and how difficult it is to properly emulate.

A brilliant start to the year for international releases.

Band: Blind Guardian
Album: Beyond the Red Mirror
Year: 2015
Genre: Power Metal
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Origin: Germany
http://www.blind-guardian.com/

Tracklist:

  1. The Ninth Wave
  2. Twilight of the Gods
  3. Prophecies
  4. At the Edge of Time
  5. Ashes of Eternity
  6. Distant Memories (bonus track – limited editions / vinyl)
  7. The Holy Grail
  8. The Throne
  9. Sacred Mind
  10. Miracle Machine
  11. Grand Parade
  12. Doom (bonus track – earbook version)

About

Jonathon is an aspiring fantasy/sci-fi novelist and music journalist. Thanks to the influence of the music he grew up with, he has always possessed a keen interest in metal and rock. He is also a huge fan of mythology, legend, and folklore from all across the world. You should follow him on Twitter.