Promising to be one of the most ambitious projects in metal history, Blind Guardian’s upcoming release will be well worth the wait.
The idea of recording an orchestral album originally formed in the minds of the two leading lights of the Blind Guardian universe – guitarist André Olbrich and singer Hansi Kürsch – during the 1990s when Blind Guardian started to use orchestral elements to enhance their opulent sound. In recent years the giant project started to take shape, and parallel to its epic sound cascades, the lyrical concept was developed. For this, Blind Guardian was able to find support in German bestselling author Markus Heitz, whose latest novel “Die Dunklen Lande” was released on March 1st 2019. The book is set in 1629 and contains the prequel to Blind Guardian’s opus Legacy Of The Dark Lands, which will be out on November 8th 2019.
Expect grandness because Legacy of the Dark Lands is grandness personified. 24 tracks and coming in at 75 minutes long, this incredible effort from Blind Guardian is like nothing we’ve heard since Nightfall in Middle-Earth.
It shares a lot in common with that release too. Not just in scale but in how the story is told. Just like the Blind Guardian classic from 1998, Legacy of the Dark Lands has spoken word story-telling interjected between the actual tracks. These voices will be familiar to long-time listeners but may not be is the actual story being told.
Playing out more like a movie soundtrack then say a ‘traditional’ Blind Guardian album, the orchestration is front and centre here as you’d expect. Combined with Hansi Kürsch’s great vocals we get a simply wonderful piece of music here. One that can drain the blood from faces through the pure emotional weight of it all while also lifting the soul and getting the blood pumping that little bit faster.
War Feeds War makes the head rise that little bit higher, the melodies of Dark Cloud’s Rising are gleeful, The Great Ordeal is darkly mellow that continues to grow in stature as it goes on and In the Red Dwarf’s Tower is utterly spell-binding in just how gargantuan it sounds.
Simply amazing and all of that’s just the first half too.
The story continues through more spoken-word with Into the Battle as the voice talks of an army of giants and someone who has changed before Treason gets going. Led by the encouraging vocals of Hansi, the sense of epic danger is at hand here.
Elsewhere the folksy and playful melody of Point of No Return is a nice change of pace although it’s the harmonious singing that really excels here. Nephilim builds wonder in the starry-eyed way that only Blind Guardian can manage, Harvester of Souls is an earnest and more energetic listen that drops into glorious epic moments on a whim.
Reaching the climax, Conquest is Over is confirmation that the story is playing out as we hear heartbreak and deception play out. Before Hansi declares that “we better run, we better hide” for the playful and powerful This Storm.
The actual final track on the album excluding the final spoken word section (A New Beginning) is Beyond the Wall. You can’t help but wonder if fatigue would be setting in at this stage but simply put, it’s so spectacular, so huge and epic that it holds the attention from the start to the very end. A spelling-binding finale that entrances the mind and lifts the soul as only Blind Guardian can do.
There are so many excellent moments across the album to point out that a person could be here all day talking about all the little nuances that excite or intrigue. The better idea is to just encourage all, even non-Blind Guardian fans to experience this.
Blind Guardian Twilight Orchestra – Legacy of the Dark Lands Full Track Listing:
1. 1618 Ouverture
2. The Gathering
3. War Feeds War
4. Comets And Prophecies
5. Dark Cloud’s Rising
6. The Ritual
7. In The Underworld
8. A Secret Society
9. The Great Ordeal
11. In The Red Dwarf’s Tower
12. Into The Battle
14. Between The Realms
15. Point Of No Return
16. The White Horseman
18. Trial And Coronation
19. Harvester Of Souls
20. Conquest Is Over
21. This Storm
22. The Great Assault
23. Beyond The Wall
24. A New Beginning
Blind Guardian Twilight Orchestra - Legacy of the Dark Lands (Nuclear Blast)
- The Final Score - 9/109/10