without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
After a few years of having one's mind blown by the band's 6th album Nightfall in Middle-Earth, the anticipation for its followup was running extremely high, as Blind Guardian were a band that could do no wrong. The single for And Then There Was Silence was released a full 4-5 months before A Night at the Opera, and it's an unusual single as the title track is 14 minutes long. There is no radio edit here, and since I'm accustomed to the advent of the 'single' as a direct vehicle for radio promotion, I'm at a loss to think that anyone outside a devout college radio metal program would have aired this. More likely it's a well planned teaser for fans, giving them 17 minutes of new material far in advance of the full-length.
Was Blind Guardian's ode to the fall of Troy a great idea to get the blood running in the band's legions of fans? More or less. Like any track pushing such a huge length, it requires a lot of patience to digest, and not all of the 14+ minutes here glint with brilliant steel or fresh ideas. But if you enjoyed the Germans' Queen-influenced operatic power metal on the past two albums, surely there are moments of satisfaction, like when the band finally builds to the glorious chorus, the drums rolling along to a march beat and the multi-tracked vocals soaring. Ideally there are 3-4 minutes of fat here that could have been trimmed off without the song losing any emotional impact, but then you'd be left less time to get involved...
Also included on the single is the English version of "Harvest of Sorrow", a gentle ballad with flute and synthesizer that recalls "The Bard's Song" or "A Past and Future Secret". The track is fairly catchy (a leftover from the previous album), and was released in different languages for separate regions, an obvious bone cast to the band's rabid international following. It's a pleasant ballad, almost as smooth as "A Past and Future Secret", but I can see why they'd (initially) reserve it for this single and not the core album. A "Born in a Mourning Hall" multimedia video clip is also included with the single, but as there are other means to see it and it's the same collage of live and backstage footage we've seen already from thousands of other bands, this was not a huge draw for me.
As a preview placed well in front of A Night at the Opera, this was actually not bad for tiding the fans over until they could get their claws around the full-length. I know I bought it. Looking back though, there is simply little reason to purchase it. "And Then There Was Silence" is on the album, and there are multiple versions of "Harvest of Sorrow" available as bonus tracks, depending on which pressing you own. Assuming you don't, then that would be the sole reason to pursue this release.
Good old times, when "power" was often said together with "speed", and Helloween were ruling the power metal scene. If they were the kings, the princes were Blind Guardian. Speedy, powerful and "poshly rude". During the march through time they have lost a bit of that rudeness and have made their sound much more sophisticated, and sometimes more progressive.
The ultimate progressive movement in BG history is And Then There Was Silence. Ordinary power metal fans should be aware that this song is all but ordinary BG one. Released as a single of the "A Night at the Opera" album, ATTWS is an epic ride lasting 14 minutes, telling about the end of Troy from the Trojan point of view.
Power, epic and progressive metallers are invited to enjoy it, since there is all they need to hear in a song. Powerful vocals, epic choirs, and so many changes of rythm, ranging from up-tempos to ballads part, that prevent the listener from annoying.
The structure of the song is quite traditional, despite the length. But every part was made majestic. So we have very long verses and a chorus of about 30 seconds repeated three times. No bridges, but who cares?
The lyric is deeper than any other story-based one of BG, it really catches the feelings (angst, desperation and even happiness, as you can see in one of the final parts) of the Trojan people.
Instrumentally, the riffs are mostly very inspired and well-fused with Hansi Kursch vocals. The most impressive element is the drumming, on which Thomen really goes crazy more than once, making you hear and "feel" its light-speedness and fantasy making this session one of his best performance of his career.
One of the best points of all is that there are no time-excedeed and annoying instrumental parts, there are only two stops in the whole song, that wouldn't cause this to be boring. You should appreciate this aspect, since many other long suite have this “little” problem.
On the bad side, the choirs may appear over-used, because Hansi has mostly never left alone to sing. This could cause too many not to fully appreciate the singer's vocal performance, which is damn good. In my opinion, choirs are made so “invadent” in order to make it seem that the Trojans are truly singing. Another particular aspect is the
In the end, ATTWS is also surprisingly good to play live, of course, without the nearly-omnipresent choirs (it would be good sometimes), as the BG have shown many times on stage, often inviting the metallers to sing along with them in order to sobstitute the absent back choirs.
The b-side of this single is the track called Harvest of Sorrow, which was originally meant for the Nightfall in the Middle-Earth album, as it again deals with the Silmarillion. It is a tragic love ballad, where keybord symphonic sound predominated, with some acoustic guitar riffs and the vocals of Hansi are so soft and kind. A very good ballad, yes, but every BG ballad is very good or better, so Harvest of Sorrow doesn’t represent the surprise like The Bard’s Song or A Past and Future Secret were.
The last track is a multimedia video of Born in a Mourning Hall, from Imaginations from the Other Side album. It is an exceptionally good up-tempo, but it seems a little out-of-its-right-place here, since the sound is very different and doesn’t fit with the rest of the single, for it is more “rude”, as even so Hansi vocals. But it still can be good in order to understand differences between yesterday and today, which are many. While ATTWS is more epic, here there are more “violent” vocals and more fast and “assassins” riffs guitar and drums, where Thomen shows once again who is the master. Too bad that it can be listened with a normal CD player… you must have a PC in order to play the video, which was already spread via the internet. So nothing new.
So you get a great epic suite, a nice ballad and an already-seen video. This may seem a little low content considering that the most important track is on the ANATO album. I don’t care if you buy the single or the album, but you should definately listen to this song, by one way or another. If you are a purist of old-times BG you could prejudge this, but it would be a mistake. This is evolution. Those who like long suits, epic choirs, and changing rythms should welcome and enjoy And Then There Was Silence.
Riding off the coat tails of their most amazing album yet (Nightfall in Middle Earth) Blind Guardian gave us the first offering off their 2002 effort "A Night at the Opera". The primary focus of this single is obviously it's namesake, "And then there was silence". Lyrically this is a rather brilliant retelling of the Iliad told from the point of view of the Trojan side. Musically, this song is basically a self contained opera drama in the Wagnerian mold.
One of the primary mistakes made in approaching this song is with the template of a traditional/power metal song, this is clearly an effort meant to rival the progressive efforts of the likes of Adagio and Symphony X, both of whom write heavily complex music. Consequently this song, in addition to most of "A Night at the Opera", did not sit well with many traditional fans whom are more prone to the Speed/Power Metal era that Blind Guardian had in the early to mid 90s.
The other track on this release is titled "Harvest of Sorrow", a song that would appear in multiple languages depending on which edition of "A Night at the Opera" you got (my version had the lyrics in French). Pretty much a traditional Blind Guardian ballad, very melodic, and some pleasing acoustic guitar lines mixed with some good orchestra support. In addition, there is a multi-media video of "Born in a Mourning Hall" that is rather interesting, although I had already seen it via the internet before hand.
As far as recommendations go, if you are a speed metal purist who had some reservations about the changes that were made on "Nighfall on Middle Earth", then you may want to steer clear of this single, as well as the full studio release that followed. But for those of you whom are fans of more Progressive Metal, and whom liked Nightfall on Middle Earth, this is as good as they come.
And Then There Was Silence is an epic song, at 14.07. The song starts with this triumphant keyboard/power chord intro. The drum fills on this track are pretty damn good. Hansi's voice is top notch. There is a thrash break around 1.30. So many time changes in this song. It really does not get boring. At 2.45 it totally changes pace, with just a keyboard and Hansi's voice. There is some mid-paced thrash riffing in this song at some points. The chorus is a sing-along. A 'you NEED to put your fist in the air', power metal chorus. Gotta love it. At 7.40 there is another break, with a cool vocal melody. Then back into the chorus. The section at 12.10 is excellent. Hansi really has a beautiful voice.
Harvest of Sorrow is a ballad, and a very good one at that. The acoustic work is nice, and it gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling inside. Our maybe that's just my heartburn? Anyway...the vocal melody is once again excellent. This is not bang your head METAL, but it's a nice change. The chorus is triumphant and moving. Above average song writing. Guardian played this song live when I saw them, and it managed to be even more moving then.
The final track is the music video for Born in a Mourning Hall. It's basically just a live clip, with Hansi wearing a Charlotte Hornets t-shirt...yeah, I don't understand that one either. It's a decent video for a great song.
Okay I know what you are thinking! And the answer to your question is Yes! I do collect singles. The first track on this single is the long epic of Homers Illiad, And then there was silence! This song is well written, both lyrically and musically! Sure the song may be 20 minutes long, but it is worth hearing every word of Kursch's and every note picked by Olbrich! If you ever read the story you can go through the song and say "Oh I know what they are talking about, this is the part where..."
The second track is Harvester of Sorrow, another great song written by Blind Guardian. Awsome riffs and solo's, and once again A+ for outstanding lyrics. And if I am not mistaken, this song appears on no other album, but only this single! They also played this song at there last concert....talking about concerts, the next song isn't really a song. It is a multi media track! You have to download Quicktime, if you don't already have it, but it is worth it. It shows Blind Guardian playing Born In a Mourning Hall live!!!!! If you thought these guys were amazing, wait till you see the video! You will be sure to order your next tickets to see Blind Guardian in concert! A single worth getting if you are a Blind Guardian fan!!!!