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Nightfall in Middle-Earth was the very first Blind Guardian album I bought. It wasn´t new at the time, in fact A Night at the Opera had been released already. I got it due to my fandom to fantasy literature, than to BG. I knew some songs of them (like Into the Storm, The Bard´s Song – In the Forest, The Script of My Requiem, among many others) because a friend of mine passed them on. But even so, I was never truly attracted to them, not because they were bad, in fact I liked them, but they did not struck any nerve. Boy, was that going to change.
At that time I had already read The Hobbit, and was in the middle of The Lord of the Rings, and missing The Silmarillion; but I was well aware of this concept album based on the later book. After hearing it, I was an instant Blind Guardian fan.
As aforementioned, Nightfall in Middle-Earth it is a concept album based on Tolkien´s The Silmarillion, particularly on the Quenta Silmarillion (The Silmarillion itself contains 5 different stories, being the Quenta Silmarillion the main one), which tells of the first age of the world, the Silmarils, and of the first Dark Lord Morgoth, of which Sauron was a mere underling. The album tells the story focusing more on events and chaining them together, so it doesn´t follow the chronology of the book. It comprises 22 tracks, 11 intros and 11 songs.
Into the Storm – first track after the War of Wrath intro, in which Morgoth tells Sauron to escape, while the hosts of the Vala attack them, quite a good intro, with war sounds and soldier´s screaming. After the dialogue, the song kicks in quickly and aggressively with a guitar part, the Hansí´s vocals enter. Drums mark the speed of the song, and the chorus is quite catchy. The lyrics tell of Morgoth refusing to give Ungoliant the Silmarils, most beautiful of the gems, that encase the light of Valinor, land of the angelic powers. Quite a good power song, and a perfect starter for the album.
Nightfall – after the Lammoth intro, called after Morgoth´s scream being attacked by Ungoliant. A slow but great guitar and orchestrated start, it slowly but surely turns into a powerful song with a hymn like chorus; chanting Nightfall!!! along with Hansi is almost inevitable. At the start, I tended to consider this song a ballad, but its more of an hymn, with a good I SWEAR REVENGE scream about halfway the track, which most definitely urges us to war. The lyrics are about the darkening of Valinor, after Morgoth and Ungoliant kill Finwe, elvenking of the Noldor and the first blood spilled, and destroy the trees of Valinor. An excellent song, one of the best songs in the album. “The enemy of mine, isn´t he of your kind?”
The Curse of Feanor – the beginning is literally a fast blast of drums and guitar, which sets the pace for most of the song, although in the bridge and the chorus it gets a bit slower, not as catchy as others though, but still worthy of remembering. The lyrics deal with the curse that befell Feanor and his followers for daring the Vala, by swearing war against Morgoth for stealing the Silmarils, which Feanor wrought out of the light of the trees of Valinor. This song is great, and I really don´t know why this song is not a fan favorite because it is a really good song, although a bit similar to Into the Storm in the beginning. This song stands on its own, but sadly eclipsed by others in the album. Well, maybe that´s why it is not a fan favorite.
Blood Tears – after Captured, intro about the chaining of Maedhros to a mountain. It’s a sad ballad, with a memorable start with a guitar tune that feels really epic. Although it starts a bit slow, it kicks in after the first chorus, with the infamous line “Welcome to where time stands still, no one leaves and no one ever will” (I´m reminded of Metallica´s Master of Puppets), and then, paces low into a regular speed. Its lyrics are about an elf (whose name is important, and goes unremembered by my twisted memory) rescuing Maedhros, by cutting off his hand, since he cannot break the chains that bind him to the mountain. At first I got tired of this song because I listened to it often and started boring me, but its really a good song.
Mirror Mirror – ain´t this the show closer. One of the best songs of the album, although it took me a while to digest it. The start is almost like a march… well it is, but quite a catchy one nonetheless. Then it quicks fast and happy… yes, happy; I don´t know but the guitar tune only inspired my that word and feeling – happy. The chorus is catchy, on par with Nightfall and Time Stands Still, no surprise is a crowd favorite. The lyrics took me a while to figure them out, but at last I know. They speak of Ulmo, lord of the water, appearing before an elf and revealing him the impending destruction to befell on his kingdom(I think it refers to the destruction of Gondolin, but I´m not so sure). The single of the album, it’s a great and memorable song, worthy of being show closer.
Noldor (Dead Winter Reigns) – a similar start than Nightfall, it’s a more somber song. The very first lines, which are the second part of the chrorus, kept me from listening to the whole song at first, for they seemed monotonous to me. Until I decided to chain myself to the chair and listen to it entirely. The pace maintains itself all of the song. The lyrics tell of the Noldor, mightiest of the elven race, but also the most tragic. It’s a song with good moments, and low moments, it’s the longest track, clocking in at 6:51. Not epic by any means, but is worth mentioning… well it isn´t but I wanted to. A good drum and scream part two minutes before the ending is the best part, such a good one that is worth listening to the song just to get to that part, afterwards it’s the same as before. Don´t get it wrong, it is actually a great song, but it was one that took me the longest to like, it wasn´t that I forced myself to like it, but it definitely took me a time to appreciate it. Good song.
Time Stands Still (At the Iron Hill) – the catchiest song of the entire album, and also one of my favorite songs of Blind Guardian. The starting guitar reminds me of Into the Storm, but not as aggressive. Then Hansi´s vocals narrate us the epic tale of the brave march of Fingolfin, elvenking, daring Morgoth out of Angband to face him… “the elvenking´s broken, he stumbles and falls, most proud and most valiant his spirit survive…” The bridge and the chorus are the catchiest of the album, and the guitar tune and solo are definitely memorable. One of the best songs of the album.
Thorn – after the short but great The Dark Elf intro, Thorn enters slowly at first, but enthralling with the acoustic and orchestrated guitar. The vocals are more tragic than in Noldor, and when the chorus comes in is a definite sing along, screaming AT THE EDGE OF THORNS is impossible to avoid, quite similar to Nightfall. The lyrics speak of Maeglin, an elf born of an evil parent, and the apple does not fall far from the tree in this case. Two minutes before the end, the PLAY THE SONG OF DEATH part comes in, truly memorable. Excellent song, and one of my favorite, closing in with the initial guitar tune; truly memorable.
The Eldar – this is the truly emotive track of the album, bearing us listeners to cry and share in the elves´ pain of having to leave the earth. It is a ballad, consisting of piano and Hansi´s vocals all the way. This truly proves that Hansi has the gift of voice, making him inarguably one of the best metal vocalist, hell; one of the vest vocalists ever. His voice truly sounds sad and moved by pain, as if he himself were an elf. The tragic part, second half, is most appealing; Hansi´s vocals soar to heights only he can reach, and the piano gets truly sorrowful, accompanied by back vocals. As can be inferred, this song is apart from the others in the album. Truly, one of the most compelling and emotive songs, if not the most, Blind Guardian has composed.
When Sorrow Sang – ironically, this song is the fastest of the album, wondering where is sorrow singing? Starting with drums running fast set the mood of the rest of the song, which remains unchanged. The chorus is also most catchy, but not as Time Stands Still, but really close. The lyrics are the reason for the title, for they speak of Beren & Luthien, affair between man and elf, what could be most tragic? Although at first, I would´ve preferred this song to be more like The Eldar, as the theme is most suitable for that mood; but as a song its great, and does reflect the despair of the tale. A great song, truly.
A Dark Passage – after two intros, it starts off with an epic beginning with choir, an evil tune. It speaks of Morgoth and his glory and power. At regular pace, there are lots of screaming here, with RISE OF FALL, A DARK TALE ENDS after the first chorus being the most memorable. It’s the album closer, before an outro, but still it’s a good song and does get the feeling of and end, as it speaks constantly of Morgoth´s power, and even fades out with the lines “slowly marching on…” a great ending, a great song.
As you may have noted, I keep saying “it’s a great song”, because lots of songs are reminders of others within the album, some more similar than others. The Eldar would be the only song that is truly different, no surprise since its only piano and vocals. But even so, this is truly an amazing album.
Lyrically, it’s one of the strongest albums of BG. Obviously, being a concept album gives it an edge. It includes very few excerpts from the books, but it contains some great lines, like “A star in the night and a bearer of hope, he rides into his glorious battle alone, farewell to the valiant warlord”, or “I tasted poison when I drank the wine of fate” among several others. The adding of spoken intros is a great detail immersing one into Tolkien´s world, giving the album a narrative edge others lack, and a more epic feeling.
Put aside the concept, it’s one of the best BG albums, no doubt. Most recommendable if one is a fantasy fan, common among BG fans, as they themselves are huge fantasy fans. As my first BG album, it submerged me into BG world and it made me fan. As of today, Blind Guardian is one of my top bands, if not THE top band. Supreme.