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Fast, heavy and epic. - 87%

Nightcrawler, May 5th, 2003

Blind Guardian's later albums are all essential power metal classics (well, A Night At The Opera sure isn't essential...) but in the early days, this was a true speed metal band. The album does have its influences from epic power metal, but mainly it is speed metal played really fucking well.
The production is pretty nice. It's not as clean and polished as their later albums; it's quite raw and heavy, which suits the music and atmosphere of this album very well.
All the musicians show the great talent they possess in many ways. Most remarkable is the guitar duo of Marcus Siepen and André Olbrich. The riffwork is fast as hell throughout pretty much the entire album, and each song contains a variety of riff changes, keeping the listener interested. Each song has a few very well played guitar solos and some nice melodic leads, which is a trademark of any Blind Guardian album.
Vocally, it's rawer and less melodic than their later offerings, but Hansi Kürsch's epic voice is instantly recognizable, and the album does have it's fair share of singalong choruses, although they're not nearly as big as Blind Guardian would make them later on in their career.

The CD version has 9 songs, although two of them are short instrumentals and one is just an intro.
The six remaining songs are all killer speed metal. To name a few highlights, I'd say Guardian of the Blind, Battalions of Fear and what might be the best Blind Guardian song up to date, Majesty. It's the most epic track on here, reaching over seven minutes. But the epic feeling comes not mainly from the length, but more from the vocal lines and melodic lead guitars, which are of course accompanied by a variety of speed metal riffs.
Yes, that song owns.

But the three remaining songs are not bad at all either, in fact they all rule. Wizard's Crown rocks, Run For The Night is the shortest and catchiest of the non-instrumental songs (although the vocal lines are ripped off from Helloween - Judas) and The Martyr is a bloody great piece of quite epic speed metal.

Then we have the two instrumentals. By The Gates of Moria is pretty nice, although nothing remarkable. But Gandalf's Rebirth is pretty fucking bad. It's way too happy, uplifting and melodic for it's own good. It sounds completely out of place, and totally ruins the flow of the album. So, be careful to press the stop button just before this song starts playing, and you'll be fine.