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So, here we have the latest single from Blind Guardian. The large gap between this single and the upcoming album makes this single the only thing we'll get to know from the album for a long time (the reason for that, by the way, is that Hansi caught a flu and hence couldn't continue the recording of the album. However, since the single was already done by then, the band has decided not to delay its scheduled release). The only real glimpse of what Blind Guardian are cooking in their musical pot is the title track, since the other 2 songs are an acoustic ballad and a cover.
The way I see it, after hearing the negative opinions on the last album and with Thomen (the former drummer) leaving the band, Blind Guardian have decided to go back and try a slighltly different path. I can't say I'm pleased, since in my opinion, on their last two albums Blind Guardian have reached new musical heights - for themselves and for the world of metal alike - and I would want to see them continue their progression in that direction. However, I seem to be in a serious minority with this opinion.
The song Fly shows Blind Guardian returning to the more straightforward style of the 90s but with a lot of goofing with electronics and various effects. Personally, I'm not really fond of such effects and don't think they add any depth to the song. They don't really bother eventually, though, and overall the song is very good power metal, much like what we've come to expect from Blind Guardian, and the acoustic bridge is especially sweet and sounds great. The song is not astonishing, and I do hope to see better material on the upcoming album, but it's still very promising and shows that Blind Guardian still have a lot to show and new paths to explore.
The second song is Skalds and Shadows - the semi-mandatory acoustic ballad in the vein of The Bard's Song (In the Forest) and A Past and Future Secret. It's very sweet, well done and played, and it is as if we're being conveyed the message of "don't worry, we're still the good old Blind Guardian". The acoustic version of this song featured on the single will appear on it only - the album will instead offer us this song played with an orchestra. We shall see, we shall see. Meanwile, this acoustic version is great on its own right.
The last song on the single is In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, a cover of Iron Butterfly. Before the release of the single, Blind Guardian said that while they liked stoner music, they'd turned the song into a speed metal tune. Metal? Yes. Speed? Hell no. Amazingly, they've managed to make this song sound even more doped than the original did, and this already deserves noting. However, I feel the song lost a lot from being cut down from 17:02 to 3:37. Expectedly, they took only the main part (I'm not really sure if it can be called a chorus), while removing all the instrumental ones. I believe the cover would've gained a lot if it'd be at least 8-10 minutes long, since the way it is, it's almost an insult to the original. Not that the 3 minutes are bad, they are in fact quite an interesting listen once you get used to the vocals - but just imagine someone taking ...And Then There Was Silence and turning it into a 3 minute song.
Finally, a word about the new drummer: while Thomen Stauch remains one of my favourite drummers, Frederik Ehmke does a great job too, and sometimes it's quite hard to tell that the drummer has changed. I have the feeling though that the electronic effects on Fly were mainly his idea, albeit maybe it's just me.
In conclusion, the single leaves us with high expectations for the upcoming album, so let's hope they'll be meeted.