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it took me years to appreciate this band...

  • Jul 18, 2006
I'm not sure why. it's not like they are particularly esoteric or anything. I think it has something to do with the overall mindset I had in approaching Blind Guardian previously. my theory is that their rather unique style was not something I was able to appreciate without a paradigm shift. Realistically, one would have to call them power metal--their emphasis on vocals, melody, and speed is not uncommon to the genre. Yet, in being a metal band, it doesn't follow that they are a big riff, big guitar band - their music is unusually focused on vocal arrangement and melodic devices. The music, sure, is really chunky, pretty heavy, and very fast, but the guitars dominantly play a lead role. Guitar lines themselves are often charged with renaissance-flavored modalities that lends atmosphere and credibility to their fantasy-influenced sound more than they make wannabe metal-geeks (like me) want to suddenly learn how to play guitar. Recently, things changed - I can't get enough Blind Guardian, and I think this is their best album overall. Rather than trudge through obligatory review prose, I will catalogue the things that make Blind Guardian and this album awesome.

> First and foremost, Hansi Kursch is the best voice in metal, bar none. He is completely different from any other singer out there - rather than a high-pitched power metal tenor or brutish growling, Hansi's voice is raspy and sounds strained almost all the time. Few singers have either his range or power - his hair-raising screams are unmatched and his softer minstrel-like singing is honestly beautiful. _Imaginations from the Other Side_ is probably the last album where Hansi's raspiness is full on - his vocals started to sound a little more polished and `mature' after this album. Overall, this is Hansi's best performance. His scratchy, desperate tone delivers the most poignant metal lines ever: "What can I do on this road to nowhere at the edge of time (heart of dragon lies)" he implores with perfect viciousness on "And the Story Ends..."; "he's the one who took the sword out of the stone," he sings on "A Past and Future Secret" with a stirring, lilting bardic quality; "Agony's the script for my requiem" he snarls as the chorus of "The Script for My Requiem" kicks into high gear. Hansi is the Patrick Stewart of metal - he has a unique power to make any line sound amazing.

> Also vocal-related, the CHORUSES!!! Blind Guardian is the best in the business when it comes to the huge, multi-tracked vocal choruses. Every album Blind Guardian releases cranks the choruses up a few levels, but _Imaginations_ is the first album where those vocals were really, like, HUGE n' stuff. HAHAHA

> Blind Guardian would be nothing more than what they are without a few special qualities. One of the reasons they command so much drama in their music is that their sense of arrangement and structure is meticulous so as to really drive home the intensity and emotion in different tracks as the passage unfold. Sometimes it is as simple as throwing in a new bridge before the chorus. For example, the way every chorus gets more and more intense each time it appears in the song or the subtle addition of tubular bells to the blazing metalness - like on "Script for My Requiem" where bells chime alongside racing metal speed just before the final chorus kicks in (hang on to your chair). The complexity of the vocal arrangements, particularly on "Past and Future Secret", creates a lush effect alongside reeds and flutes and orchestral percussion with a modally-based acoustic guitar figure. In the solo section of "And the Story Ends", a brief shakti-like acoustic widdle appears with great effect (even if only for a matter of seconds - it's the little touches that often makes songs great).

> for any good album experience the first and last tracks are essential - the best albums often have both a killer opening and a killer finale. Here, the title track and "And the Story Ends..." are two of the best metal songs...EVER!!!

> _Imaginations from the Other Side_ straddles the line between Blind Guardian's earlier, thrashy fantasy-power metal and their later albums of bombastic fantasy melodrama with hundreds of vocal tracks on each song. The mix is awesome and makes for their tightest album all together. There is good variety on the album - breathless power metal at top speed, like "I'm Alive", "Script", "Born in a Mourning Hall", and "Another Holy War"; a gorgeous, GORGEOUS ballad "Past and Future Secret", two epic progressive metal tracks opening and closing the album, and atmospheric mid-tempo rockers "Mordred's Song" and "Bright Eyes".

I have gone from actually disliking this band to owning almost all their albums, and I think I could write a book about how good they are. Highest recommendation for anyone who likes metal!

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Clayton Reeder ()
Ranked #434
Rogue capitalist in search of all that is interesting, weird, or beautiful.      Collected here are my hundreds of reviews from Amazon.com, covering mostly music that is offensive … more
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2007 digitally remastered reissue of the German Metal band's 1995 album. Blind Guardian mix Gothic and Fantasy images with Speed Metal, creating their own other-worldly sound that they've managed to build upon for nearly two decades. EMI.--This text refers to an alternateAudio CDedition.
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Label: Century Media
Artist: Blind Guardian
Release Date: May 11, 1999

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