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This album has been slammed by many for a mainly non-musical issue: interludes. Interludes on any album are an acquired taste. While I found the interludes to be a particularly nice touch, this is beside the point.
The metal on this album, its composition, and its crafting are BG's best. During their concerts, they are the songs people cheer for the most, and for a reason: if you read Tolkien's timeless epic, the Silmarillion (which is the 'Old Testament' of the Lord of the Rings trilogy), the interludes will make sense and will be appreciated for their addition because they help anchor the narrative of the concept in the mind of the listener.
Hansi and co. sing and play on NIME with a passion not found on any other BG release. The singing is EVIL on 'Into the Storm', sorrowful on 'Nightfall', urgent on 'Mirror Mirror', and commanding on 'Thorn' and 'Time Stand Still' , all backed by galloping drums and furious guitar interplay soaked in tasteful orchestral arrangements that give the majesty these songs need.
Melodies evoking ancient elven and dwarven realms and their folk remain in your head forever. There are no weak tracks, and every single song offers a new atmosphere while staying faithfully lodged within the main context of the Silmarillion epic. The music on NIME alternates from solemn and lamenting 'Nightfall', the gothic and ominous 'Blood Tears', the cavalry charge of 'Mirror Mirror', to soaring passages like in 'Thorn' and 'Time Stand Still'. The wide palette of feelings and atmospheres results in a brilliant slab of power metal and one of my top 10 best power metal albums ever. For Tolkien fans, it also serves as a tremendous tribute to the Silmarillion. Blind Guardian never regained the passion and fury of NIME on subsequent albums and only recently managed to brush NIME's greatness with their excellent 'At the Edge of Time'.
We can argue endlessly about the 'cheesiness' of this album and even some have called it 'goofy'. It's a matter of perspective: those who AREN'T interested in epic sagas translated into metal music will surely laugh this band off and this is really a matter of taste. Can't argue about tastes and colors.
This is grade A epic power metal and for the fans of the genre, a must in their collection.
Amazon reviewer: Torquemada 'Sweating Demon'