although _Imaginations from the Other Side_ had better production, better songs, and more artistic progression all 'round, it is obvious that _Somewhere Far Beyond_ represented something of a turning point for this band of metal bards. their youthful, thrashy energy is starting to sound a little more tempered, more refined, more...mature? All in all, _Somewhere Far Beyond_ is very well-balanced album with deadly songcraft to boot -- there are at least five classic BG tracks on this disc, with a good range of amazing vocals, blazing speed, and bardic adventure. There are straight up power metal tracks like "Time What Is Time" and "Ashes to Ashes". "Quest for Tannelorn" is also pretty straight-up, with a more sorrowful, slow-tempo chorus and pythagorean subtelties. Then there are the tracks that really stand out. Then there are the BIG songs. First of all, "Journey Through the Dark" -- was their ever a more exhilarating power metal song? Its soaring, and i mean SOARING, chorus and intuitive tempo changes, and the infectious determination of Hansi's vocals make for one of the band's most cherished tracks. "Theatre of Pain" is a bombastic piece with synthed orchestrations (more than almost any other BG track), a gorgeous guitar solo, passages of varied intensity, and spine-tingling Hansi lines like "Now I'm gone and it seems that life had never existed". Then there are the two "Bard's Song" tracks, "In the Forest" and "The Hobbit" - the first is a gorgeous, stirring ballad, like a renaissance-era campfire song; the second is a galloping speed-metal cut using rearranged themes from the acoustic variation. Both sweep you up with their elating melodies and surprising grace. Finally there is the title track, a fast epic with huge harmonies, dramatic flow, one of the most "mega man"-esque guitar solos, and a chorus that makes me weep with its goodness. if at any time Hansi needs to prove how he can take basically "straight-up" metal music and make it INCREDIBLE, one must merely scope out this track. Also included are a pair short pieces -- the minute-long piano-and-voice piece "Black Chamber", and the atmospheric "The Piper's Calling", featuring bagpipes which also appear briefly during an instrumental interlude during the title track.