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“Battalions of Fear”, Blind Guardian's debut is also, together with their second opus, “Follow the Blind”, the rawest and most aggressive album they ever put out. You're very wrong if you think that their first album also contains the symphonic/progressive elements that fill their latest offerings. This album is pure speed metal, quite thrashy at times, but very melodic at the same time.
The most important characteristic of the album is the kick-ass guitar work... Really amazing! It's a shame how they now bury Olbrich in the mix, his riffs are very catchy (see the main one of “The Martyr”) and his solos are absolutely godly! See the little instrumentals that are present on the album, they will comprove everything I've already said. “Trial by the Archon”, which also serves as a little introdutory piece to “Wizard's Crown”, is the perfect example. Just hear the solos... Gosh! Amazing stuff here, they are so fast yet melodic, it's amazing, I tell you. I know I sound like a Blind Guardian fanboy but I assure you I'm not, Olbrich is THAT good on this record.
Hansi's vocal performance is very good too and it shows that he sounds even better without all those choirs and vocal layers surrounding him (I'm looking at you, “A Night at the Opera”). During most of the time, he is singing in a very aggressive way and, as i've already said, his work is top notch on this album. The drumming is simple, with lots of double-bass and thrashy beats. Nothing that special. The bass playing is also very generic even though it is very audible (yay!) on some songs.
So, highlights? There are lots of great songs to be found here, friends. “Majesty”, the longest and more ambitious tune of the album, immediately get things going, with some kick-ass metal riffs and a really catchy chorus. Yeah, all the choruses are pretty damn strong, Blind Guardian always knew how to write good choruses and they don't need to add 3567423 vocal layers to make them catchy (again, I'm looking at you, ANATO). “Guardian of the Blind” begins with some drum riffs, leading us to an authentic riff onslaught. Ah, and the chorus of this tune possibly is the best of the whole album, I'm sure you'll remember Hansi screaming “Guardian, guardian, guardian of the bliind!” forever. “Wizard's Crown” is, again, very catchy and almost borderline thrash: the riffs are fast and very raw, I just love them. “Run for the Night” is quite strong, but not as strong as the other tracks though. “The Martyr” is another strong piece, leading us to the title track, which is another highlight. The instrumental little songs aren't very memorable but still are work well and add something to the whole listening experience.
So, a very good Blind Guardian album, all in all. This is MANDATORY if you enjoy speed/early power metal and, why not, thrash (if you like it melodic and catchy). Ah, and don't forget to check out “Follow the Blind” if you enjoyed this piece; basically, it's the same thing with better production.
Best Moments of the CD:
-the choruses of “Guardian of the Blind”, “Majesty” and “Run for the Night”.