Blind Guardian - Beyond the Red Mirror (Nulear Blast)

Release Date: 
29 Jan 2015 - 11:30pm

Breathtaking. Simply, unutterably breathtaking. German power metal exponents Blind Guardian have always hinted at the capability of producing something like Beyond… but for whatever reason – personnel, budgets, quality of production, or just plain songwriting – the planets have never aligned quite as perfectly as they do here. If Blind Guardian never record another note of music it won’t matter- they have created their magnum opus.

Despite six of the ten songs clocking in at over six minutes, there’s a sleek dynamism to be found within the grooves of …Red Mirror (which was written as a companion piece to 1995’s Imaginations From the Other Side) that propels the album along in headlong fashion; however songs don’t sound rushed, forced, or like they are being needlessly elongated for the sake of it or to prove their ‘progressive nature’. Not a single note – and there are a hell of a lot of them – is wasted.

Hansi Kursch is, of course, the prime source of all this spectacular success. The grand master of German speed metal, it’s his vison that is laid bare for all to see on this album, and it’s his vision that makes this such an unmissable release. Sure, the band contributes fully, and there are three full choirs and two orchestras along for the ride too (as well as the invaluable production assistance of the inimitable Charlie Bauerfiend), but it’s Kursh’s single minded dedication to bringing his Queen-meets-Maiden-meets-the–Beach-Boys musical dreams to life that makes Beyond the Red Mirror such an unreserved triumph. This isn’t metal opera, but there’s an undeniable Wagnerian sturm und drang here, a higher calling to art that most bands simply choose not to recognise or ignore through the sheer fear of failure. There isn’t a duff track on the album, but tracks like The Throne are, quite simply, among the best you’ll ever hear in this genre, ever. Layer upon layer of vocal interaction, a melody you’ll be failing to rid yourself of for aeons after hearing it, orchestral flourishes and a simply stunning guitar solo from Andre Olbrich – I’m getting breathless just typing this, such is the excitement this song engenders.

Euro power metal is undeniably a cluttered, over saturated market, but with the release of Beyond the Red Mirror all the wannabes, never will bes, has beens and never weres have a new industry standard to look up to; Now that this album exists the bar has been significantly raised. Good bands will see this as a source of inspiration, great bands will seek to match the commitment to excellence that this album represents; But it will be a truly magnificent band that produces an equal to Beyond… in the future. Quite simply brilliant.