Blind Guardian
At the Edge of Time

I remember when I used to get excited about a new Blind Guardian release, but since their 1998 masterpiece Nightfall in Middle Earth, everything they’ve released has been somewhat disappointing. That, unfortunately, doesn’t change much with their latest, At the Edge of Time.

For me, this record is often maddeningly frustrating as it offers short blasts of the Blind Guardian I love only to settle back into the boring, middle of the road stuff found on 2006’s A Twist in the Myth. The opening track “Sacred Worlds,” which clocks in at 9:20, pretty much encapsulates the whole record. Filled with unneccessary symphonics, the track has its moments, mostly during the more upbeat portions, then kind of drags on for a few minutes, then gives another little blast of something interesting. “Valkyries,” likewise opens with a dark melancholy ballad line, but quickly picks up with a dramatic guitar riff that shows some promise. More of that milquetoast sound drags it down despite a nice soaring chorus and some cool guitar melodies sprinkled throughout.

The biggest problem, though, is that so many of the songs are just not memorable. “Ride Into Obsession” is a galloping power metal number that, at times, reminds the listener of the band’s earlier work, but as I write this only moments after listening to the song, I honestly can’t remember much about it. “Road of No Release” has too much drama and not enough energy. “Control of the Divine” sounds like a leftover from A Twist in the Myth, and that’s not a good thing.

There are, of course, a few ballads. “Curse My Name” is the obligatory medieval ballad with traditional instruments. I happen to love these, and while it’s not as strong as some of their past efforts, I still like it. “War of Thrones” opens with some nice piano work and has kind of a Trans-Siberian Orchestra feel that I like.

The maddening part of the record, though, is that there are some really good songs mixed in with the mediocre. “Tanelorn (Into the Void)” reminds me of something from Nightfall in Middle Earth with its big, memorable chorus. “Wheel of Time” delivers a very cool mix of traditional instrumentation, symphonics and metal that blends Middle-Eastern, Spanish and gypsy themes with heavier guitar riffs. While the song does have some lulls in its 9-minute running time, it’s never dull or uninteresting. But the song that really makes this record bittersweet is “A Voice in the Dark.” The next to last track on the record, it opens with the most energetic riff on the album, and has more aggression and power than anything else on the record. It’s strong from start to finish, and makes me wonder what might have been if the band had approached every track with this kind of passion.

Like 2002’s A Night at the Opera and 2006’s A Twist in the Myth, At the Edge of Time is not a terrible record, just terribly disappointing for those of us who have fond memories of the band’s offerings from the 1990s.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Fred Phillips
September 14th, 2010

Comments

  1. Commented by: faust666

    While i do think that the review is well written, I must say that I disagree completely. Blind Guardian hasn’t sounded this good (and HEAVY !) for a loooong time. I nearly killed myself trying to headbang and mosh alone while listening to the opener “Sacred Worlds” !!
    Also, did you just talk about “unneccessary symphonics” ??? it’s a freakin BG record !! That’s like complaining about blastbeats on a Bloodbath record or insane solos on a Nevermore record !!
    I think you just switched yourself off after listening to Blind Guardian a while ago.. I’m guessing in the 90’s !
    Cheers !


  2. Commented by: Fred Phillips

    Hehe. I suppose that’s true about the symphonics, and I’ll take my lashes on that. They just didn’t quite work for me on that particular track.

    There’s probably some truth in your last statement. A lot of their stuff in the 90s had a big impact on me, and maybe it’s unfair to compare current BG to those records, but I can’t help it. There are songs I love here, but there’s a lot of stuff that just doesn’t do much for me.


  3. Commented by: faust666

    Fair enough. I’ve never been a big fan of BG but I love “Nightfall…”. I used to listen to “Thorn” 20 times a day once upon a time. I skipped through their releases after that and never got the same feeling of satisfaction from either a song or an album. That changed a few weeks ago when I heard ATEOT. I wouldn’t presume to judge your way of approaching the band and their work because I’m quite aware that my way is rather personal and subjective too. I wasn’t expecting anything but I got a good deal and that makes it that much better. Cheers!


  4. Commented by: Clauricaune

    Yeah, I don’t think it’s THAT bad, and it’s definitely better than ATITM at least. But all in all I don’t think I’ll be coming back to this one as I do with their 90s records. It’s a decent record, just not really memorable.


  5. Commented by: Desperado

    Good review, and some points of opinon I share. ATITM and ANATO just didn’t click with me for some reason. This album was just the sort of thing I was hoping for with the band, it reminds me of the more solid songwriting and sound of their older works. When I first heard and watched the Sacred song in the game Sacred 2, I was very optimistic. The whole album is solid for me, so I’m happy with it.

    When I want their older thrashier sound I usually either go back to their older stuff or put on some Savage Circus, especially the debut with is godly awesome imho.


  6. Commented by: mike

    There are times when you make a blind purchase after hearing good things about a particular band/album. Obviously I had heard of Blind Guardian, bet never bothered checking them out.

    Not being a power metal fan, I ended up buying this album after hearing/seeing the video for A Voice in the Dark. It was full of aggression, played fast and extremely catchy. Unfortunately, most of the album was the complete opposite…as you summed up in your review nicely. Certainly won’t be wasting any more $ on power metal!

    And the production on this is awful.


  7. Commented by: Fred Phillips

    Desperado, I love the first Savage Circus record. I reviewed it for Digital Metal way back when. I never got into the second one, though, for some reason.

    Mike, if you like “A Voice in the Dark,” it might be worth your time checking out some of their older stuff, particularly the first two records, Battalions of Fear and Follow the Blind. The band started becoming more symphonic and less about speed after those records, but just about everything they did through Nightfall in Middle Earth I love. (Barring the painfully horrific renditions of “Mr. Sandman” and “Surfin’ USA” of course.)


  8. Commented by: Desperado

    Yeah man, that first SC album is incredible, haha I think it was your review that turned me onto them. I’ve been a fan of this place since back in the Digital Metal days lol. I feel the same way about the second album, it didn’t click with me, and every time I go to give it a chance I end up not into it and would rather put on some other band. Regardless, I’m happy Blind Guardian manage to kick so much ass.


  9. Commented by: Appollyonx

    I like it, lol. I’d never really given them a chance, honestly I’m not a huge Power Metal fan anyway. But this record captured my interest cuz there’s so much BIG about it. The symphonics are fucking huge and the solos..While Dragonforce might call themselves Power Metal, this is what Power Metal is. Yeah there’s a few songs that just needed to be shortened or left out completely but I think its a pretty solid album for what it is.


  10. Commented by: Austin

    Respect the quality and sincerity of the review but disagree completely. “ANATO” is every bit as good as “NIME” and this album comes very close to surpassing them both. Outstanding.


  11. Commented by: Erik Thomas

    where do i start with these guys?


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