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Far better than Destiny or Visions - 90%

ijy10152, May 2nd, 2012

In the '90s, a bunch of metal bands really came to life and began making some noise. Among these are Stratovraius, Blind Guardian, Rhapsody of Fire, Kamelot, and Nightwish. Unfortunately, it seems to me that too much emphasis is put on Stratovarius with the peak of their career being '94-'98. While Dreamspace, Fourth Dimension, Visions, and Destiny are all good albums, they're not amazing. They seem kind of formulaic and a bit repetitive to me. But Blind Guardian I think deserve THE spotlight of the '90s. Somewhere Far Beyond was their best album until At the Edge of Time and I think it was the best album to be released in the 1990s. The style of this is mainly power metal with a little symphonic edge and even some awesome Scottish tones thrown in.

The highlights of this album are Theatre of Pain, The Quest for Tanelorn, The Bard's Song - In the Forest, and Somewhere Far Beyond. Theatre of Pain is a really good example of '90s symphonic power metal, like just about anything from Stratovarius's Fourth Dimension. Quest for Tanelorn is one of my favorites as a bit of progressive metal goes a long way with me and this one definitely has progressive elements and a fun chorus to boot, making this a definite winner and one of Blind Guardian's best songs. The Bard's Song is one of the most recognized and beloved metal ballads of all time, and if you watch some live performances of it, particularly the one from Imaginations Through the Looking Glass, you will notice that the crowd sings half the song, showing you how well most of them know it. I has that same folk feel found in most Blind Guardian ballads, slowed down a bit and with a really, really catchy chorus. Also, the emotion in this song is done very well and really adds to it as Hansi's voice really developed on this album and sounded better than any of the previous albums. Now the best song on this album and probably in the top five Blind Guardian songs of all time is Somewhere far Beyond. The chorus and refrain of this song are just so much fun and the whole song is fast, but upbeat and enjoyable from start to finish. My favorite part is when the bagpipes come back in halfway through and offer a brief, fun interlude.

All in all, this album is really fun without any real weak points and some of the best material the band has written to date. In my opinion, this album was the best album released in the 1990s and deserves so much more recognition. Also, it ages fairly well. It's 2012 and I'm not mortified by the production at all (unlike a certain album called Dreamspace) and it's still really enjoyable, but the new 2011 recordings of both Bard songs are really good and even better than the originals.

Dark, polished, progressive speed/power - 91%

Jophelerx, March 26th, 2012

It would be hard not to be a Blind Guardian fan in 1992. With four albums under their belt, and every one of them good, if not classic, the band could seemingly do no wrong. Since they began experimenting with a softer, slower approach with 1998's Nightfall in Middle-Earth, they've become pretty controversial, and virtually everyone found A Twist in the Myth pretty lackluster at best, but man, I bet being a Blind Guardian fan in 1992 would have been fantastic. I certainly would've liked to hear Somewhere Far Beyond blow away any of the expectations I could have had for it after hearing only the first three albums.

Sadly, that was twenty years ago now, but the album remains no less excellent. It's similar in style to Tales from the Twilight World, but it looms over that album in every way possible; it's more ambitious and has a sharper production, better riffs, sharper and more refined vocals, and more atmosphere overall. While it's not quite as consistent as its successor, Imaginations from the Other Side, at its highest points it soars over Imaginations, and quite possibly over everything else Blind Guardian have ever done.

From the beginning of the album it's clear that this is leaps and bounds beyond Tales, as we are serenaded by an emotive, mystical acoustic guitar solo. Immediately afterward, we're introduced to the powerful, atmospheric, fantasy-drenched riff-fest that is "Time What Is Time". As the first Blind Guardian album to be devoid of songs written through collective band jamming, it's pretty clear from the get-go that the songs are a lot more complex and completely stray from the traditional verse-chorus-verse-chorus song structure. The riffs change quickly and often, with songs generally possessing several sections, albeit still with choruses and some other repetitions. This is the style Blind Guardian would eventually become well-known for, as they continue to practice it to this day, although At the Edge of Time was a bit of a step back towards simplicity.

"Journey Through the Dark" is a darker, more aggressive number that is savage and relentless, not failing to deliver in a large quantity and high quality of riffs. Here we're also introduced to the accompanying group vocals, which are, not surprisingly, better than they've been in the past, sounding almost like an ancient council warning of danger on the road ahead. The song is slightly more traditional, but definitely still more progressive in structure than the average power metal song.

"Black Chamber" is a somber, passionate, keyboard-driven passage that, despite being only about a minute long, stands pretty nicely on its own and fits well with the album.

"Theatre of Pain" is the only departure from the rest of the album, a poppier, simpler song than the others that, while good and well-executed, detracts from the relentless speed metal assault the rest of the album brings. In addition, it's merely good for what it is, not great, as most of the album is. It's not without its merits, just not up to par with nor on the same page as the other songs.

"The Quest For Tanelorn" is definitely in the category of songs with more progressive song structures, with a dark, foreboding intro and a nasty opening riff that won't fail to keep you headbanging. The biggest complaint here is the chorus, which is slower and a bit cheesy, sounding closer to a Helloween-inspired europower chorus than a dark speed/power one. Not all the riffs are fantastic here, but they're all at least solid and not overused, and the song doesn't fail to disappoint.

"Ashes to Ashes" is possibly the darkest song here, starting with a fantastic opening riff and continuing without pause nor dip in quality for the remainder of the song. The backing chorus is used to maximum effect, creating a feeling of utmost dread and foreboding that fits perfectly with the rest of the song. The chorus is probably the highlight here, remaining dark and ominous while still being infectious catchy.

"The Bard's Song - In the Forest" is the mandatory ballad of the album, and while decent, feels unnecessary and a little forced. There is some enjoyable acoustic soloing here, and the atmosphere is good, but, like "Theatre of Pain", it is less ambitious and ultimately falls short of the rest of the album.

"The Bard's Song - The Hobbit" is a darker, heavier take on the previous ballad, and it's much better. It's a bit slower than most of the album, but no less excellent, in the vein of "Time What Is Time" with its fantasy-dripping atmosphere. It feels almost like an anthem, with its story-based lyrics and more traditional song structure. The acoustic outro hearkens back to the previous song, and it works well, closing out the pair with a chilling passage that's slow and somber, evoking feelings of some ancient crypt or spell or something.

"The Piper's Calling" is a poorly though-out introduction to the title track, consisting entirely of bagpipes that are completely inconsistent with the atmosphere of the album. Luckily, it's short enough.

"Somewhere Far Beyond" is quite possibly the best song here, over seven minutes long and never failing to keep my attention. It has a vast, epic atmosphere, like some dark wizards from long ago are casting forbidden magic that has a lasting impact on the world. The lyrics fit the atmosphere well, with lines such as "Somewhere far beyond...the march of time, it has begun!" They're apparently about Stephen King's The Dark Tower series, but as I haven't read them I can't really comment much. The only problem here is the bagpipe solo partway through, but it's short. The highlight is probably the chorus, which is layered perfectly and just has a grandiose, epic, important feel to it.

Overall, with perhaps Hansi's best vocals ever, a fantastic production, and great riffs, this is one of Blind Guardian's strongest efforts, and I highly recommend it.

Speed/Power metal at its very best. - 100%

Folkemon_, September 25th, 2011

What we have here is an album that became my favourite of all time in a VERY short amount of time.

I wasn’t really into power metal at all until i came across Blind Guardian but after listening to “Follow the Blind” and hearing classics like Banish From Sanctuary and Valhalla, well i was fucking hooked.

Where as the first 2 albums were pure speed metal, they began experimenting with power metal on Tales From The Twilight World, and while that was still pretty much a speed metal album it introduced us to Blind Guardians epic tendencies and amazing chorus’s, Somewhere Far Beyond expands on Tales From The Twilight World and is probably their last real speed metal album before they started focusing more on the vocals and melodies, in this album the speed metal assault of the first 3 Blind Guardian album remains mostly and they throw in a few mid paced songs and a few ballads.

This is the first album where the mid paced stuff begins to really shine, “Theatre of Pain” is maybe their first pure power metal song and my god is it amazing, a glorious whirl of intertwining melody, solo’s and keyboards and not to mention Hansi’s amazing operatic vocals and an absolutely gorgeous chorus which will be stuck in your head the next few days(the whole fucking album will be).

Now the fast stuff which is what Blind Guardian do best in my opinion, we start the album off with a duo of two brutal bangers they would be two of the best songs on the album and two of Blind Guardians best songs of their career, “Time What Is Time” and “Journey Through The Dark” and like Autothrall says, “Journey Through The Dark” is probably the greatest song on this whole cd and is probably Blind Guardians fastest song ever, the whole song is just balls out speed metal of the highest order and with another beautiful chorus you’ll be sucked into another world.

The album also features Blind Guardians first full out acoustic song “The Bards Song – In The Forest”, i know this song isn’t really very popular with hardcore old Blind Guardian fans but i really don’t see anything bad about it, its a fan favourite and no matter where they play it the whole crowd actually sings the whole damn song, to get the whole of Wacken singing your song word for word, you know you’re doing something right.

I do find its counterpart “ The Bards Song – The Hobbit” a much better song though, this song like “The Quest for Tanelorn mixes the speed metal of the first two songs with the mid pace of “Theatre Of Pain” to great effect.

Now a special mention must go out the closing track “Somewhere Far Beyond”, you’d think they’d have run out of steam by the end of the album right? Think the FUCK again, this song almost rivals “Journey Through the Dark”(maybe it does i just prefer that song), anyway...here we have 7:28 of bombastic speed/power metal which even clocking in at that time it seems so short, the song starts off in typical Blind Guardian fashion, thrashing riffage, soaring melodies and a surprisingly aggressive vocal approach by Mr Kursch, the song comes complete with ringing bells and halfway through we’re treated to a fucking bagpipe solo!, this is small but adds so much to the song and breaks it up nicely before going back full speed ahead and THEN we’re treated to the best fucking solo on the album, i dont know if André and Marcus share soloing duties on this song but it sounds like a battle to see who can come up with the best solo, and then just when you thought the song might lose some steam they change the song up again with the whole band coming in with backing vocals for an epic and PERFECT closure to the song.

Now a special mention must be given to Thomen Stauch who just pounds the hell out of the double bass throughout the whole album with amazing precision, and also Hansi who i think really his peak on this album, he is actually pretty damn aggressive and strains the hell out of his voice, i’m surprised nearly 20 years after this album he’s still an amazing singer and should be revered as much almost as much(if not as much) as Dio.

The lyrics on the album mostly deal with Hansi’s obsession with fantasy literature but with a slight twist, a few of the songs deal with a person who is lost in these fantasy worlds for example Time What is Time deals with someone lost in the Blade Runner world, Black Chamber deals with someone lost in the Twin Peaks world, they’re in first person and they’re almost like small stories themselves which is really cool and adds some uniqueness to the cheesiness of usual power metal lyrics.

If you like your power metal with BALLS then this should not be missed and sadly they wouldn’t continue this route getting slower over the next few albums, although “Imaginations From The Other Side” comes close.

100/10.

Join us at the road to fate - 90%

autothrall, January 9th, 2010

Up to this point Blind Guardian had merely been a good band with a ton of promise...but it would be Somewhere Far Beyond that would vault them into something far more, and initiate a string of releases that showcase an epoch of creativity that transformed them into a reliable, go-to, must buy type of artist. This album is a seamless hybrid of tranquil, folksy moments and explosive, inspirational speed and power that nearly steals the breath away, and aside from the first of the "The Bard's Song" tracks (which others seem to laud, but I find a little dopey), it's a flawless exercise in songwriting, nicely rounding out the force of Follow the Blind with an increased wealth of vocal hooks and ballistic balladry.

It was the third consecutive album with a 'Time' track, in this case "Time What is Time" which christens the album with some graceful acoustics, perfect for a spell by the river (of water, or time...), which escalate into the dominant chords, then the thrashing outbreak, and the surge of the chorus, with Hansi hitting some higher vocals that truly cultivate the dirty soils of his throat. This is a great song, but very few tracks in the Blind Guardian discography can compete with the following "Journey Through the Dark", an eruption of speed metal emotion so powerful that it has drawn tears from me on more than one occasion. The flighty opening riffs are complex and wonderfully written, melodic speed metal, while the verse is like a bristling of spears and arrows straight to the heart, Hansi going wild as he screams through the melodies. The chorus is a climax over but three perfect chords, and once the track hits about 1:30, you are about to experience some of the most emotionally jerking moments in metal, with the pretty vocal breakdown over the guitar melody, the successive, thrusting eruption and subsequent return to the chorus. But the fun isn't over yet, for this track has some of the best solos of Blind Guardian's career, performed in a sauteed Helloween/Judas Priest style. Holy shit!

Yeah, there's pretty much nothing that can top this. But that doesn't mean the Germans are about to let their album trail off. Allowing you to compose yourself, they next hit you with the Queen-like, brief rock operetta "Black Chamber" and then the orchestral "Theatre of Pain", which soars through some great leads as it morphs into its trudging, beautiful verse, Hansi twisting a deep, solemn gothic tone in among his normal growling melodic bite. "The Quest for Tanelorn" is a wonderful tribute to Michael Moorcock's Elric series, though Hansi's low resonance in the word 'Tanelorn' might seem slightly dorky. The track has a great 70s feel to the leads that really conjures up the mental imagery of the original books, and the chorus is once again similar to something Queen might perform.

"Ashes to Ashes" brings back the hard rocking from earlier in the album, another surge of melodic, post-thrash speed with more of the soaring leads and vocals that few other bands can pull off with such aplomb. After this the album takes a slight nosedive with the first half of "The Bard's Song - In the Forest", and I say slight because it just feels a little corny to me, as I picture men in tights lilting about a woodland as they court satyrs and dryads (depending on their preference). It sounds like a minstrel's song, surely, but I don't like the self-referential title and lyrics...even if the acoustic guitars are decent. The second half, "The Bard's Song - The Hobbit", is a folksy metal anthem that trudges along at a majestic pace, with a catchy guitar melody weaving over the chords. There would be many folk metal bands later (of the Northern, woodland or Viking variety) who simply copy this song over and over.

"The Piper's Calling" is a resonant bagpipe track, under a minute, that sets up the album's original closer, title track "Somewhere Far Beyond", an excellent scorcher that continues the path set by "Journey Through the Dark" and "Ashes to Ashes". 7 minutes 30 seconds of raging guitar rhythms and powerful vocals later, you know you've just had a serious face rocking. There are also several bonus tracks on the CD version, including the band's decent cover of "Spread Your Wing" by Queen, and an even better cover of Satan's "Trial By Fire". How fucking cool is it that Blind Guardian actually cover a Satan song? Along with their Demon cover, it's one of their best renditions, sounding perfect in the hands of the Germans. Additionally, the fully orchestral edition of "Theatre of Pain" is nicely handled (some of these bonus tracks would appear once more on The Forgotten Tales compilation in 1996).

With the exception of "The Bard's Tale - In the Forest", this was a pretty stunning album for its day, by far the best power metal of 1992 and the best Blind Guardian album to date. The production is top notch, and regardless of how much dust might gather on the CD case, "Journey Through the Dark" will always be one of my favorite songs from this band, if not THE favorite. It shocks me to think that the band would top even this album with their next two releases, which are overall that much more solid, but Somewhere Far Beyond is the crossroads where Blind Guardian upgraded from pretty damn good to essential.

Highlights: Time What is Time, Journey Through the Dark, Ashes to Ashes, Theatre of Pain, Somewhere Far Beyond, and another vote for Journey Through the Dark!

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com

Blind Guardian's masterpiece - 100%

Thiestru, August 24th, 2009

Here it is: the peak of Blind Guardian's career. With 'Somewhere Far Beyond', Blind Guardian summed up everything they represent and, in doing so, created one of the greatest albums in metal.

While today they are best known as an epic power metal band who likes to sing about Tolkien and other fantastical (and historical) topics, they began as a full-on speed metal band (still singing about the same subjects, incidentally), and gradually added more and more epic elements to their sound. The album before this ('Tales from the Twilight World') is usually seen as either their last speed metal album or their first power metal album, but 'Somewhere Far Beyond' combines both approaches seamlessly and in perfect measure.

They were still a relatively young band in 1992, and it shows - and that's a good thing. While the music on 'Somewhere Far Beyond' is quite refined compositionally, the band's performance is youthful and vigorous, and their enthusiasm is infectious. Blind Guardian really started hitting their stride here, and judging by the confidence with which they play, I have to think they knew it, too.

André Olbrich (lead guitar) and Marcus Siepen (rhythm guitar) compliment each other perfectly, melding melody and aggression very naturally; even the folksiness that emerges in several places is right at home with the overall sound. One of my favorite aspects of Blind Guardian's music has always been the wonderful solos. While often shredding and technical, they are always melodic; in fact, fans (including me) have been known to sing along with them during shows. Thomen 'The Omen' Stauch (drums) tears it up on the kit, pounding away mercilessly during the fast parts, easing up during the slow parts; but the chief characteristic of his playing is tastefulness. Typically during tremolo-picked speed metal songs, the drummer is content to sit back, thunder endlessly on the double bass-drum pedal, and call it a day. Not Thomen. While he's not afraid to hammer away at the double bass when appropriate, he usually employs a more restrained style, using the bass drum rolls in short bursts, if at all. He seems a great fan of the D-beat, as well. His cymbal work is also very good, never overpowering the guitars or vocals with excessive crash cymbal smashing, but playing them just enough to make every riff and crescendo explosive and exciting. And now for the most well-known (and usually most-lauded) member of the band: Hansi Kürsch (vocals, bass). Dear Lord, is this man awesome! On early records, his voice was very raw, and on later ones sometimes too polished, but here, it is perfect. For the metal parts, he has a scratchy and raspy voice, and he cuts through the music in a piercing but melodious way. For the quiet parts, he uses a soft and minstrel-like voice, and his German accent really helps to set a mood of fantasy and wistful nostalgia for the mythic past. If his singing in 'The Bard's Song - In the Forest' doesn't make you feel like you're sitting around a campfire in the woods while a bard sings and plays his lute, I don't know what will.

So far I've said very little about the songs themselves - but really, what is there to say? They're amazing. You have fast, thrashy songs ('Time What Is Time', 'Journey Through the Dark', most of 'Ashes to Ashes', 'The Bard's Song - The Hobbit', and 'Somewhere Far Beyond'), midpaced songs ('Theatre of Pain', 'The Quest for Tanelorn'), ballads ('Black Chamber', 'The Bard's Song - In the Forest'), and a completely epic masterpiece ('Somewhere Far Beyond'). (I don't mention 'The Piper's Calling' since it's really just an intro to the title track.)

The production? Flawless. It's a bit quiet by today's standards, but then again, every album today is too damn loud. Here every instrument is heard clearly and powerfully - even the bass.

This album is so close to perfect it's unbelievable; in fact, the only thing keeping it from a 100 is that it's a little too short, I think*. If you only get one Blind Guardian album (a mistake - get them all!), make it this one. It really is one of the best metal albums of all time.

*Edit: Upon reconsideration, I've decided that this album is perfect. Please disregard my criticism that 'Somewhere Far Beyond' is too short.

The War of Knights -vs- Minstrels Lasted One Day - 100%

Hidius, September 13th, 2008

And there was a really good reason for it, too. Somewhere Far Beyond is representative of that.

This album combines the best of both thrash metal and power metal. From power metal it takes the expansive, bombastic chorus work and clean melodic singing, as well as the high fantasy lyrical subjects. From thrash it takes the dark, morbid atmosphere and the aggression, and balances out all the clean singing with just as much harsh singing. Hansi’s voice gets particularly harsh in the first verse of Theatre of Pain, if you listen to it loud enough it gets just within range of splitting your skull. All that is topped off with a dash of folky-ness in the instrumentation to complement the general sense of metal minstrelsy.

Tragedy happens to pique my interest, and there is no shortage of that on here. This is what darkness in power metal is all about, this is darkness in power metal taken to its highest quality extreme. It never gets cheesy and it avoids pure depression. There’s no boredom inducing parts anywhere on this album. There’s more soloing on this BG album than on any other, and it’s more intense, but the music overall is intense. The riffing is still as high speed as these guys can play—and without getting stale.

There are a couple of slower moments here with Black Chamber and In the Forest, but they do not disappoint. On Black Chamber Hansi’s voice maintains its ability to cut right through your head, while on In the Forest he goes for his minstrel style almost in full. The only thing that would have made this album’s ballad stand out would be if they had taken it to the next level as they did with Lord of the Rings and A Past and Future Secret. On those songs the music is dense and Hansi is in full-on Rennaissance mode. This is mere acoustic work with Hansi’s voice flowing normally, the structure isn’t that adventurous. But I don’t consider this a flaw, just a possibility that went unexplored here, unlike on the other albums. This is still one of my favorite albums.

Another song that was very well done and easy to enjoy but that could have been a little more adventurous was Quest for Tanelorn. It seemed sort of standard, as far as songs go, and BG’s strength is playing with the songs in unusual ways, creating oddly structured songs. Most of the rest of the songs on here are unusual and offer much for the ears to catch, that all flies by at lightning speed, but without going overboard on happiness. Actually none of this is upbeat in any way, it’s just that sometimes the mistrel style of the music makes all these tales of dread and woe seem lighthearted, the way a Rennaissance guy with a flute would prance around in a skirt singing poems to women who always ended up with the hunky knight instead. It didn’t matter what that guy sang about, he always seemed happy about it. When you take into account his record for getting laid you’re left wondering if he was on drugs, or what.

This is much meatier, much more manly. This is the equivalent of hearing the hunky knight kill the minstrel and take over his duties. This is how the knight—who has been laid, and who has been to battle—would sing the poems. The knight is thrash metal and the minstrel is power metal. I like both genres, but this is what I want to hear more of from thrash—an epic sensibility—and what I want to hear from power—snarling aggression and, well, a real acknowledgement that there is more than just idealistic super-happiness to write about. There are bands in both genres that do some of this, but none so well as Blind Guardian, and on SFB they reached one of their career zeniths with one of their loudest, most intense and yet melodic albums.

Time, what is time? - 81%

Nhorf, August 17th, 2008

Often regarded as a classic, “Somewhere Far Beyond” represents also an important transitional point for Blind Guardian, from the relatively straight-forward speed metal music they were playing, in the beginning, to the more ambitious path they went through with this record and all its sucessors. All in all, “Somewhere Far Beyond” contains, at the same time, elements from both phases of the band; the songs are quite fast and, at times, aggressive, but the album also carries an interesting epic vibe, similar to the one present on the most recent Blind Guardian records, like “Nightfall in Middle-Earth”.

“Time What is Time” is the perfect example to describe this album's sound. The tune begins with a little acoustic intro, reminiscent of the intros of the early Metallica albums, getting heavier then with a nice aggressive riff which is also repeated throughout the song. The track sounds pretty much like the ones featured on some of the early Blind Guardian records until the chorus is sung for the first time; it is quite anthemic and wouldn't sound out of place on, say, “A Night at the Opera”. As you can see, “Time What is Time” is a perfect representation of what this album is: the point where they, while still playing the traditional speed metal, began adding the so-called 'epic' elements to their music.

So, “Somewhere Far Beyond” seems to be the 'perfect', so to speak, Blind Guardian album: the fans of both phases off the band can be pleased and will certainly like the record. Those who loved the power metal anthems featured on “Nightfall” will love the choruses, the vocal layers present and the whole atmosphere of the album, while those who prefer “Follow the Blind” will still love the aggressive riffs, raw drumming and blazing guitar solos featured on many of the tunes.

There are some nice interludes present here, but they are not in the vein of the ones present on, say, “Follow the Blind”; while the so-called 'interludes' of that record were more like little instrumentals, generally filled with some solos, this time they are different and are used to improve the atmosphere and the whole listening experience. “Black Chamber” is a quite somber piano piece, featuring some heartfelt vocals by Hansi and “Piper's Calling” works perfectly well as a folk-ish intro, leading us to the title track, the longest song of the bunch.

Returning to Hansi's vocals, he always was a great vocalist and, again, his performance doesn't disappoint. He is extremely talented and his performance is quite varied on this album. Examples? On “Time What is Time” he adopts a more aggressive approach, the same thing going for “Quest for Talenorn”; on other hand we can found him singing very emotionally and melodically on the already mentioned “Black Chamber” and on “Bard's Song – In the Forest”, which is one of the most popular Blind Guardian ballads (and, for a damn good reason, since it absolutely rules). At times he even delivers some high-pitched screams, a la Halford, which just confirms how amazing his vocal range is.

Production-wise, this album is damn competent. All the instruments sound pretty clear, even though I have some problems at times with the double-bass pedals, they are almost inaudible on some songs. The guitars sound pretty good though, which kind of compensates. The bass isn't as present here as on their debut and is, unfortunately, inaudible during most of the times, but I've already got used to it (generally, the metal bands bury their bassists), so I won't complain that much. Comparing to the other Blind Guardian works, I actually prefer the production of this album to the one of the so-called magnum opus of this act, “Nightfall in Middle-Earth”, as the latter highlights the vocals too much, the guitars being quite inaudible during most of the times.

As a whole, the album flows really well, there aren't many fillers present here, the only one being “Bard's Song – The Hobbit”, a weak tune I never really understood. Its structure is quite generic and so is the guitar work. Overall, a pretty worthless track. The other songs are all quite strong, despite not being absolute masterpieces. My personal favourite is the before-mentioned opener, “Time What is Time”; the great “Bard's Song – In the Forest” (one of the best Blind Guardian ballads, together with “Lord of the Rings”) is also absolutely worth listening too, and so are all the tracks pretty much from “Journey Through the Dark” to “Ashes to Ashes”. They all have powerful choruses, good guitar work and impressive vocal performances. The title track is also very similar to those tunes, despite being a little more elaborated and ambitious. There's also a constant use of acoustic guitars throughout the record, “In the Forest” is the perfect example, being a 100% acoustic song; “Time What is Time” and “Ashes to Ashes” also contain some acoustic lines. Personally, I think that the presence of acoustic guitar is excellent, giving more variety to “Somewhere Far Beyond”.

Concluding, one of my favourite Blind Guardian records, a good mixture of power and speed metal, and highly recommended to fans of both genres. If you intend to buy this piece, I'd recommend you to get the remastered version; the sound is better and there are some interesting bonus tracks (the covers of “Trial by Fire” and “Spread Your Wings” are both excellent and deserve a listen, that's for sure – the two demo versions included are both a bit worthless though, oh well).

Best Moments of the CD:
-the beginning of “Time What is Time”.
-the transition between the interlude “Piper's Calling” to the title track.

The path European power metal should've taken? - 90%

Xeogred, June 23rd, 2008

In my humble opinion this is essentially and easily Blind Guardian at their peak in terms of creativity. Even though it's usually a tie between this and their debut for my personal favorite pick from them in terms of releases, there's no denying that this is one of those albums that defines "Blind Guardian" and was truly innovative during the time. Their first two albums were straight up German speed metal with the occasional epic factor here and there, while Tales From The Twilight World was certainly transitional and a hint to what they'd do here with Somewhere Far Beyond. With this one, they nailed their own style and got everything right. Riffs prevail and the speed is always furious with a majestic atmosphere and epic elements making this a one of a kind gem.

Usually I tend to believe Germany (or just the entire European) side of things were having an easier time during the 90's, compared to other places like the US where metal was sinking a bit and some genres were just completely dying out altogether. This album kind of came out of nowhere and what were some of the other big German names doing around this time? Let's see, Helloween were in between Pink Bubbles and Chameleon ... yikes, let's not even get started on that. The newly born Gamma Ray were in between Sigh No More and Insanity & Genius, how about another "yikes"? Well at least Running Wild were tearing things apart with Pile of Skulls in between their older classics left and right. Aside from them though I think it's safe to say around 1992, Blind Guardian were at the top of their game and smashing most other legends around.

As it was already pointed out by some of the previous reviews, one of the greatest aspects to this album is the incredible production. The mix is very consistent and hey, this is something you can still call real heavy metal! The special effects and instrumental stuff is definitely abound on several tracks but unlike their later albums, the main instruments such as the guitars, drums, bass, and vocals are still the dominant forces and rightfully so. The guitars in my opinion are an absolute highlight, as I also mentioned in my review for Battalions of Fear but on here they're even tougher than before and those leads/solo's are downright razor sharp. The tone on them should instantly make anyone familiar with the band say "That's Blind Guardian alright". The riffs here really stand out and that's a connection you can make to my title for this review. For all the generic European power metal out there, what happened to the riffs!? (and don't get me wrong, there's still a chunk of stuff within this realm I really enjoy). All members are in top form here and by this time Hansi had fully developed his odd, semi-raspy, and aggressive melodic vocals. I also absolutely love his spoken segments where he pretty much just talks as if he's telling some tale or something, with his cool accent it adds a lot to the music and atmosphere (the Bard's Song is a good example of what I'm talking about). It's obvious, but Blind Guardian wouldn't be Blind Guardian without Hansi.

As much as I want to say this album is nearly flawless for Blind Guardian's sake, the choruses are something I have an issue with and are typically a hit or miss for me personally. Some of them are just a little too sing-along/sappy for me, I think a more aggressive approach to a lot of the choruses here could've worked better (since the music itself is typically pretty tough). It also gets a little predictable at times, on a lot of the tracks you can just tell "that chorus" is coming. Quest For Tanelorn is probably an example of one that bothers me that I could do without, regardless however Hansi's vocals and rest of this song (especially the excellent solo!) are its saving grace. That's why I still give this a pretty high rating overall. As I said though, they're a hit or miss. There's some here that I actually think work pretty well like Journey Through The Dark, Ashes to Ashes, Somewhere Far Beyond - multiple layers and choruses on this one and wow, it actually works incredibly well.

All the way through this album is a great experience. It's extremely consistent and chances are you'll walk away easily remembering half of the songs after your first listen. This is the path European power metal and even Blind Guardian themselves should've stuck with, the aggression and "metal" is still there with some nice epic elements that sets it apart from normal traditional/speed metal. Imaginations From the Other Side is often regarded as their finest and it's definitely a solid follow up, but I've always preferred Somewhere Far Beyond since they still had an emphasis on straight up aggression and speed. After that one though, the instruments slowly started to rot away. Anyways, it's also worth noting that all of the extra tracks along with the re-master are pretty awesome, especially the cover of Satan's Trial By Fire. Of course it's not superior to the original but I commend Blind Guardian for covering it so well while at the same time giving it their own flavor, it really goes along with the rest of the album pretty much perfectly. Overall, if you think European power metal is a little too "cheesy" for you or whatever and haven't heard this one yet, well you really need to give it a shot. Definitely one of the best out of the genre and easily one of the bands finest. Highlights: Journey Through The Dark, Ashes To Ashes, and Somewhere Far Beyond.

The best power metal album I own - 96%

OakenHelm, May 18th, 2008

Blind Guardian are legends in the power metal scene, and for a damn good reason: they're utterly amazing. I was never the biggest power metal fan, but something about Blind Guardian and this album in particular just clicks with me. Usually power metal is far too cheesy, not heavy enough, or just too flat out stupid and unoriginal for me to care. However, everything about this album, from start to finish, is exactly how power metal SHOULD sound. I could listen to this album every day and never get bored with it; it's that good.

Of course, the main draw to this band is the strong vocals of Hansi, and he is in fine form here. Later on, Hansi would have too much fun experimenting with vocal layers and such, but for the most part here, he's fairly restrained and never feels as over the top as he has been as of late. Hansi's voice commands the music, and without him, Blind Guardian would be a good, but not great, band. He has charisma, power and emotion; in short, what every power metal vocalist should aspire to be. Like earlier reviewers have mentioned, he sounds like a Middle Ages bard that has somehow found his way to our time. Standout track "The Quest for Tanelorn" shows how versatile Hansi is, and is one of the instances where the choir vocals are used properly in Blind Guardian; the chorus is simply spellbinding. Of course, I may be slightly biased as I love the Eternal Champion novels this song is based on, and this song is a fitting soundtrack for parts of them.

The other main draw of this album, for me at least, is the guitars. Moving effortlessly through great riffing, melancholy quiet parts and blazing solos, the guitars are all over the place. André Olbrich really is one of the best in the business, and he shines here. His solos are tasteful and have just enough shred to make you really sit up and take notice without getting bored by excess wankery. Drums and bass aren't really noticeable, although there are some awesome double bass runs here and there that build tension in the music; the rhythm section is solid, nothing more needs be said.

The acoustic parts and ballads are also really well done; usually, ballads are the downfall for most PM bands, but the combination of Hansi's emotional output and André's skillful playing make them work. Although later on in their career Blind Guardian would veer a bit too far into melodramatic territory, everything just works here. Even "Black Chamber," which is just Hansi and a piano, is stunning. It is rare that a vocalist can put such genuine emotion into their music.

The icing on the cake for this album is the production. It is, hands down, some of the best production on a metal album I have ever heard. Heavy, crystal clear guitars, a nice, even mix, powerful and upfront vocals, it's really great. I wish more metal bands had the skill and money to get a production like this. It's a pleasure to listen to.

Even for someone who doesn't particularly like power metal, this album is utterly amazing. I can't find a single bad thing about it. I love it.

Amazing, Yet Rather Overlooked - 99%

Head_Shot, July 13th, 2007

To start, Blind Guardian are my favorite band, everything about there music is just mind blowing, the vocals, guitar, bass, drumming. The first album that got me into them was A Night At The Opera, then I went back, I found Somewhere Far Beyond and it just hit me. The production was not to high and not to low, just right in the middle where it would be perfect. But why is it overlooked?

Somewhere Far Beyond is the transition from speed metal to power metal for Blind Guardian, incorporating aspects of both genre's such as speed, lyrics, style, etc. All the songs on the album are perfect, the only thing that wanes on it is that I noticed the guitar tone sometimes overtook the vocals on several parts of the album. This is pretty much a must have to any power metal fan, it contains what most bands would later use for there music. There is no reason this album should be overlooked, no reason what so ever.

The album starts out with Time What Is Time, after a bit of acoustic playing goes straight into what the album will be set for, exciting, powerful and filled with kickass power speed metal. The Black Chamber is a filler track only spanning 58 seconds of only Hansi and a piano interlude, this filler appears again as The Piper's Calling which is soley all bagpipes, and heads straight into the closing track (unless you have a special edition version with the bonus tracks), Somewhere Far Beyond. The song itself is the longest on the album at 7:30 seconds, but its filled with energy and amazing vocal work from Hansi showing his stellar range as a singer. The only thing that gets me is that 3:50 into the song is theres a bagpipe part that startles me because its louder than shit and its unexpected.

There is a re-issue that contains about 7 bonus tracks, one of them a "classic" version of Theater Of Pain, and a cover of Queen's Spread Your Wing's. This version also includes a cover of Satan's Trial By Fire, and demo versions of several songs. Overall this is a must get album, it contains the essence of metal, energy, instrumentation, and killer production.

Usually overlooked - 97%

danyates, July 2nd, 2007

When people ask about Blind Guardian, the usual answer is "Listen to Nightfall in Middle Earth!" or "Listen to Imaginations!" I always find myself being the only one to recommend this album as a starter album. This is probably my favorite power metal release of all time.

First of all, the production is amazing. The overproduction on later releases, such as Night at the Opera, is what makes me stop listening to that album and turn this one on. The same for the releases prior to this, with their underproduction. Pretty raw recordings, although they are great. This one is right in the center of the spectrum, and it's their best produced album to date. I don't think that will change, with the way their albums are going now.

Second, the vocals. Hansi is one of the most respected power metal vocalists ever. His vocals are just as great on this one as their are any other album. Not too much harmonization on this one, although there is some; and in all the right places too. His vocals show emotion, like during aggressive songs like Somewhere Far Beyond, or ballads like The Bard's Song - In the Forest. They always seem to fit. You can always sing along to Hansi.

The leads are my favorite part of Blind Guardian. I'm a bass player, and I really hate when guitarists try to be flashy just for the sake of being flashy. The leads and solos on here are ALL memorable, and catchy. Just like the vocals, you can sing along too. Kai Hansen (ex-Helloween, Gamma Ray)

The rhythm section works. Nothing spectacular. Hansi still plays bass on this one. The drumming is good, and locks in with the bass. The kick drum work provides a foundation for a riff, and they're usually galloping along or doing a fast 16th note run.

Blind Guardian really shines when writing memorable songs. They're all catchy, and they are the perfect power metal band for introducing people to the genre. If it was up to me, this would be the first power metal album everyone heard. I love this album.

I don't have the remastered edition that just came out, but my edition has three bonus tracks. They are a cover of Queen's "Spread Your Wings," which is better than the original in my opinion. There is a fast, thrashy cover of Satan's "Trial By Fire" and a different version of "Theatre of Pain," which I honestly don't like that much compared to the album version.

Favorite songs: Journey Through The Dark, Theatre of Pain, Quest for Tanelorn, The Bard's Song - In The Forest, and Somewhere Far Beyond.

Transitional, yet obviously a classic. - 95%

hells_unicorn, February 25th, 2007

They often say that when a band starts to transition that you get a large amount of contradictory sounds appearing on the albums where it occurs, but they obviously didn’t listen to “Somewhere Far Beyond” when they said this, or the album that preceded it. One thing that Blind Guardian did differently from their fellow German Power Metal brethren Helloween was realize the transition from Speed Metal into Power Metal gradually, phasing in the folk and epic influences in little by little on “Tales From the Twilight Hall” and this release along side songs that are geared towards their older style.

Many of the Speed metal tracks have acoustic intros and interludes reminiscent of Progressive acts, although they are otherwise dominated by some very aggressive speed riffs. “Time what is time” and “Quest for Tanelorn” are the two best examples of this, the former highlighting blazing speed and a classically inspired intro, the latter showcasing some guest solos courtesy of Kai Hansen and a powerful chorus. Both parts of the Bard Song give an acoustic and electric take on the more folk oriented side of the band, the first one being a less atmospheric version of the more polished acoustic epic “A Past and Future Secret”.

“Journey through the dark” and “Ashes to Ashes” are a good deal heavier and more dissonant, the latter hinting a move towards the sound on “Imaginations from the Other Side”, while the first seems like a better produced version of something from the previous release. Meanwhile we also have a collection of interesting little short caprices that function as segues between songs. “Black Chamber” is a rather somber and dramatic vocal number by Hansi with a piano behind him, and seems to function more as an attached ending to “Journey through the dark”. “The Piper’s Calling” functions as a 1 minute intro to the riveting title track, dominated by Scottish pipes, which one could only be found of when they are pulled off properly, which is the case here.

The two highlights are the ones that hint more towards the Progressive sound that would follow, both using a more epic atmosphere to push them over the top. “Theater of Pain” is a nice slower rock/metal track with a catchy keyboard theme and some amazing guitar brilliance ala Andre Olbrich. The title track is one of the longest and most powerful speed driven epics they’ve put together, clearly the influences that resulted in “Nightfall” are to be found here, be it the dueling guitar solos or the smooth yet frequent transitions from section to section. The Irish pipes used during one of the instrumental sections are a nice touch, as I tend to be fonder of the pipes of my ancestors’ abode as they are less raucous and obnoxious sounding.

The bonus tracks are a nice touch, as BG has always been superb at marrying older rock and metal songs to their own brand of power metal. The classic version of “Theater of Pain” is not all that different from the one found earlier on the album, save perhaps a slightly larger keyboard presence. No complaints about any of these songs, but they are not quite as good as the bulk of the original work that is found on here.

Fans of older Blind Guardian will still be able to respect this, even though it is the first release they had on Virgin Records, which oversaw their transition into a different entity altogether. But fans of newer Blind Guardian should also check this out, particularly for the two highlights mentioned. I can’t say it’s the best they’ve done, but it is superior to much work they have done up until now.

Absolutely essential - 99%

Empyreal, February 8th, 2007

Blind Guardian is one of the essential power/speed metal bands, and one of the founders of the genre in the first place. This is their best album (that I've heard---still missing their first 3 albums), and there really isn't much wrong with it. The opener "Time What Is Time" is fantastic, and sums up Blind Guardian for those who have never heard them before. The solo is energetic and the riffs are precise and totally killer. "Journey Through The Dark" is another speedy killer, with a bombastic chorus and speedy riffs that never let up.

"Black Chamber" is a little interlude that I can't really say much about, leading to "Theatre Of Pain", a midpaced song with a fantastic, majestic chorus and great lyrics. One of my favorites here. "Quest For Tanelorn" is another midpaced one that sounds like something straight out of the Middle Ages. That chorus is really catchy, and the solo provided by Kai Hansen is amazing, soaring and uplifting. "Ashes to Ashes", another classic, very good speed metal here.

Then we reach the essential Blind Guardian song "The Bard's Song - In The Forest", a nice little acoustic ballad. It's an album standout, and Blind Guardian always seem to play this one live. The second Bard's Song, "The Hobbit" is a step down, heavier without any real standout parts. It's still Blind Guardian though, which means it never sucks. "The Piper's Calling" is a bagpipe intro into...

The title track. What an epic song. It's perfect in every way possible. Blind Guardian hit a high point with this song, and not many other things they've done can even touch it. Just go listen to it, it's classic and essential power metal. Just like the album as a whole.

The production here is absolutely amazing. It's softer and calmer then later releases, but you can hear every precise note, every little riff and solo piece. If only every BG album had production like this. It carries with it a strong feeling of arrogance, of sureness. Blind Guardian had truly hit their stride here, in full force. Highly, highly recommended. I wish I could find some bad things to say about this to balance the review, but this album is just far too good. Solid, professional, and classic.

The sound of Greatness - 98%

northern_cross, December 9th, 2005

The album is just the finest of the band, Power Metal as it should be. Just take a look to the cover; first thing you would notice is that is a kind of scene taken from a Tolkien´s story; well when you hear it is not different.

One of the things that surprise me most is the atmosphere that Blind Guardian created in this album, the acoustic guitars are used in a magisterial way, they don’t abuse of them, but only appear to emphasize the mood of the album. The lead guitar in the other hand makes an incredible work, and the voice of Hansi Kürsch is at their best, powerful and mighty when it had to be, and catchy in other cases as a medieval taleteller.

We start with “Time what is Time”, great song, strong, fast and with a great chorus, calmly at the beginning and in the end, but catchy as the middle part, just a great opener. “Journey Through the dark” is another fucking amazing song, just continuing where the previous one left us. The album continues with “The Black Chamber”, “Theatre of pain” and “The Quest of Talanorn” all are very well done, and can stand by their own, even that they are not the best of Blind Guardian.

Then we pass to “Ashes to ashes” another highlight, again the band demonstrate their domain of melodies and never gets boring in its six minutes of duration, without mentioning the kicking ass chorus.

Now we have the two “Bard’s Songs” the first one is very calmly but not weak, and resemblance quite a bit a medieval story, remembering the past with a comforting feeling and seeing the future as an eraser of the existence, but at the same time accepting that fate. The acoustic guitar and the voice of Hansi complete the scene. The other song is based in the novel “The Hobbit” by Tolkien, the song reflects a lot the essence of the story, even that for some ones this can be one of the weakest songs in the album, nevertheless being one of the worst in this mighty album is not that bad, and this is a great song. Passing by we found a nice song of bagpipes, nothing special really but not bad.

Now we finally get to the climax, the title track, well what can I say, is just the best song in here and one of the best of Blind Guardian, powerful, fast and with a great structure. Since the beginning the guitar take the song into an ass kicking sound, then the voice of Hansi takes the lead and it only gets better and better. With an intelligent lyrics, great vocals, changing tempos, powerful guitars and a spectacular chorus that intercalate among the seven minutes and half that it poses it truly convert this into a jewel not only of the genre but to all metal.

The cd comes with three bonus tracks that are brilliant done but even if they are removed that don’t affect the strength of the album.

In the medieval times the bards were poets or singers that tell stories and were very admired. Now we have Blind Guardian, the bards of metal, the only ones that can take you Somewhere far Beyond…

It'll take you Somewhere Far Beyond - 100%

simonitro, April 27th, 2005

This might sound cheesy, but this is the best album ever. (Sorry DragonForce, I only have one champion). After listening to Blind Guardian's music for about 3.5 years, I figured out that this is their best album they had ever did. All the songs are catchy from the beginning to the end, and even the last 3 bonus tracks sound really special.

This album is a mixture between speed and power metal but the power metal section is more dominant than the speed metal section unlike the first few albums but this isn't a bad thing but there is a great atmosphere going with this style of mixing.

About the members and the music, Hansi's vocal has always been amazing with this some sort of a harsh and heavy German accent that makes it special than any high pitch vocals that are surrounding the power metal scene, and his bass playing is good in this album. The guitars are amazing flowing together and the amazing harmonies that goes between Andre's leads and Marcus's rhythms. The drum patterns of Thomen are fast and technical. There are couple of keyboard parts are in some of the album going here and there but they had not credit the guest keyboardist.

For the tracks, this perfect album begins with an acoustic section by Andre and gets heavy and you are having a clue that you're listening to "Time What Is Time". Very catchy vocal lines with amazing change of guitar riffs and the choruses are memorable. This is an example of a perfect opener for a perfect album. "Journey Through The Dark" opens up with a fast drumming and an amazing riff comes building on it. What impressive about this song is that the different variations in the verses to make the music feel like an epic. The choruses are very catchy and sing-along. "Black Chamber" is a short vocal/piano song and it is nice to recite the lyrics while Hansi is singing throughout the song.

"Thearter of Pain" is beyond words. The first time I've heard it, it took my breathe away by the atmosphere created within the music and the background keyboards. If you had never heard Hansi's best vocal performance, then listen to the part after the first chorus when he starts singing "The sea was clear...But I can't change it, forever" and it isn't like he did an amazing high-pitch but it is made in an emotion to make you feel like you're in the middle of the sea. This is my personal favorite on the album. Another acoustic opener comes in which is for "The Quest For Tanelorn" and this is one of these songs that Blind Guardian is famous for, and that's when the song has these that keeps on building up that makes a great mood. The chorus is short but it is sweet. There is spoken section (and I think it is in German) and it is chilly.

"Ashes To Ashes" has to be one of the darkest power metal songs and the intro is very creepy. This is a big highlight on this perfect album. The chorus is filled with energy when Hansi screams "TIME" and the entire song freezes for 3.4 milliseconds "Isn't here to say" and the chorus continues in a higher and exciting tone. "The Bard's Song - The Forest" is BG's popular ballad and it is very catchy and happy. Amazing sing along and the atmosphere is nice when it is sung live. "The Bard's Song - The Hobbit" is the heavy version of the previous song.

BANG YOUR HEAD IN BAGPIPES SOLO on "The Piper's Calling", he he! "Somewhere Far Beyond" is an ultimate number one epic. A 7:30 minute song that never gets boring and the march of time will always begin. Everything is perfect on the title track and it is a pure classic. Great leads, great vocals, and great atmosphere. There is a beautiful bagpipe section which better than "The Piper's Calling" in the middle. This is my second favorite and the composition is flawless and the ending of this song is like that catchiest song ending ever. Dammit! I can't stop praising this perfect album.

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Bonus Tracks:

"Spread Your Wings" is the first of the bonus tracks, and it is a cover from Queen. It’s sweet and enjoyable. I haven’t heard the original version but this one sounds nice. Nice vocals by Hansi, as usual. Leads are very catchy in this song.

“Trial By Fire” is the best between the three bonus tracks. This is pure speed/thrash metal. It is covered from Satan, the U.K heavy metal band. It is fucking heavy plus there are like three blistering guitar solos. Blind Guardian tops it.

“Theater Of Pain (Orchestral Version)” has is more melodic than the first version, but I prefer the original one. In this one, there is more orchestration in the background and it is still good.

All in all, THIS IS THE BEST FUCKING ALBUM OF ALL OF METAL EVER! There is not a slight mistake and the bonus tracks are not even fillers. If you want perfect power metal, then this is it. Every band member does a great job on this album and this is an ultr-masterpiece. THIS IS THE BEST ALBUM FROM THE BEST BAND IN THE FUCKING UNIVERSE. If you don’t buy this, then hang yourself with shame. It is highly recommended for every power/speed metal freaks.

“Somewhere far beyond
The march of time it has begun
Somewhere far beyond your reality
And then the march of time begins”

The best production they ever had... - 90%

Warmaster, October 15th, 2003

This album has some of the best production i have ever heard. the songs sound beautifully clear and yet very powerful. As such, the later albums, to a veriying degree, get panelled by me for having only average/poor production. Still, production of course is not everything about an album, thus, to the songs...

Opening with "time what is time" this album gets off to a blast. a nice acoustic intro quickly enters in to an amzing song, one of the best the band have ever done, the lyrics are very catchy, and the main solo is brilliant. truelly amazing song.

Then its on to "journey through the dark" a nice little speed monger this one. nice riff work there.

Then we get a little instrumental "Black chamber" ok, pass there, the same sort of reaction goes partially with the next song as well "Theater of pain" which is a bit of a plodder. not a bad song, but it takes a while to appreciate it. but the orchestral sounds carry the day, saving it from being boring.

Then it's "the quest for tanelorn" after the little intro this song speeds up nicely. its main grabbing point is its catchy as hell lyrics, as well as some nice soloing, the drumming is quite noticeable as well, which is always a good thing for BG, even the latin chanting adds to the atmosphere. all in all, very good song, but not a patch on the following...

Yep, "ashes to ashes" Cheesy? no, Catchy as hell? Damn right. it takes a while to build up, but when it gets there, hell, it gets there. Those guitar riffs are crunchy and fast as hell, nicely done on that department. of course though its the lyrics which carry this. i can honestly rememeber humming this track for weeks and singing the lyrics to myself. i'm not sure if they ever played it live, but it would make one hell of a sing along song this!

Then we have their "Title" song if you will, the ballad "the Bards song - in the forest" of course, having listened to two live versions of this, i can understand the value of it live, i would love to see the band live and chant along to this. But the studio version seems flat in comparason. its a good ballad, not as good as "lord of the rings" from Tales... and as such it gets only average marks from me here (unlike the live versions)

Then its "the other bards song" i.e, "the hobbit" Not a bad song, some nice solo work, and its certainly a good telling of the story, but the lack of catchyness causes it to suffer, especially when thats what's good about power metal. i'll give it average.

Ignoring the other silly little intro "the pipers calling" we are shoved right into the title track, and to be blunt, its my favorite Blind guardian song of all time, rivalled only by "the curse of feanor" This song is fast, cathcy as hell, tells a good story, and has some amazing guitar and drum work. hence, all in all, a classic song, Hansi is at top form, and the chorus is just unforgetable. at 7:30 minutes long, it is perfectly balalnced between length and intrest, Best Blind guardian song ever, nuff said.

The main problem with this album, is again, the length. this time the "acutal length" is better, at about 45 minutes (ignoring the bonus tracks) but there are only 8 songs proper, which is too little. the bonus tracks try to balance it somewhat, but only "trial by fire" is a good song. still, i can't complain to much.

All in all, i would say this is the bands best album. None of their Albums are perfect, this one included, but it has Three absolutely brilliant songs with three more close behind, leaving only two average numbers. The prodcution is the best on any of their albums, and though i like "Nightfall in middle earth" equally as much because of my love of Tolkien, that album is slightly too mellow in parts for me. Hence, My favorite BG Album, a definite classic.

One of the best Power Metal Albums ever - 93%

Brentwood, September 14th, 2003

Power Metal is just like any other metal genre..there are some great power metal bands, and they are some bad and incredibly cheesy ones as well , such as Manowar and the like. These "cheesy" bands are cheesy becuase they take the idea of Power Metal and just go too far, and can even make themselves look like glam rock. I like Power bands such as Iced Earth and the like..and Blind Guardian is one of the few bands that can write songs about J.R.R Tolkien books and other fantasy themes without being cheesy at all. That's why I think they are one of if not the best modern power metal band out there. And " Somewhere Far Beyond" is an album that truly shows this.

Things start up with " Time What is Time". The beginning features a strange acoustic spanish inspired intro, which progresses into a thrashy riff that starts off a great song. The chorus of this song is one of the catchiest I've ever heard. " Journey Through the Dark" also blends in with the mix of Power Metal and Thrash Metal, and like the previous track , has a catchy chorus as well. " Black Chamber" is a bizarre song because in retrospect it is pretty much a 50 second ballad. I really enjoy the song and find it catchy, but you sometimes want to think what drugs Blind Guardian were really doing when they came up with the idea for the song. " Theatre of Pain" takes things back to normal with an excellent power metal track. " Quest for Tanelorn" does the same, with Kai Hansen from Gamma Ray/ Helloween playing lead guitar as a guest musician.

" Ashes to Ashes" has a weird introduction for a power metal band that could easily be used in a Black Metal band's song. Pretty good song as well. " The Bard's Song-In the Forrest" is one of the songs when you want to get high/drunk with your friends and sing along to it. A beautiful, 3 minute Acoustic ballad is one of the best on the album. The album continues as " The Bard's Song-The Hobbit" and the intro " The Piper's Calling" go by, and are both great songs. The title/final track is one of the best on the album. I love the " Sommmmeeewhhheerrre Farrr Beyyyonnd" rhythm. If you have the Remastered version, then you have the cover songs " Spread Your Wings", " Trial by Fire", and " Theatre of Pain( Classic Version)" . All are great songs and I actually prefer the classic version of Theatre of Pain.

Overall, Somewhere Far Beyond is a great album that I reccomend to any metalhead.

One of their finest albums, definitely - 88%

Nightcrawler, October 19th, 2002

Somewhere Far Beyond, Blind Guardian's fourth studio album, features a great mix of their early speed metal sound and their later power metal sound. It has slow, melodic parts and backing choir-based singalong choruses, but also insane speed metal riffs with some damn fine headbanging moments.
This is overall one heck of an album, and BG's third best, in my opinion.

Time What Is Time opens up with an atmospheric acoustic melody, leading into a truly amazing song filled with insane riffwork, melodic leads and killer solos. There are as usual for Blind Guardian a great variety in the vocal lines, but unlike the previous album which was quite forgettable at times, everything here works excellent.

Journey Through The Dark, the second song, is probably the fastest on here. Totally fucking insane would be a good description - Killer singalong chorus, too.

The third song, Black Chamber is a dumb and pointless piano interlude. Sounds nice in it's places, but the album would be better off without it...

Theatre of Pain next, it is a ballad, and easily the best one the band ever wrote. Hansi delivers an enchanting vocal performance, and the song features a slight but very tasteful use of kehyboards, and overall has an incredible atmosphere all over it, which is something that no other ballads by this band has.

The Quest For Tanelorn next. Holy fucking shit. This is definitely one of my top three Blind Guardian songs of all time.
From start to finish, this song is completely fucking amazing. Many dark melodies create an evil atmosphere, at one point backed up by latin backing choirs. There's a bunch of time changes, and the song always keeps interesting. All the vocal lines are very memorable, and overall, this is one of the darkest songs the band ever wrote.
But, there is one major complaint I have about it. The chorus. It's too goddamn happy, and sounds completely and utterly out of place,
Such a shame, if it wasn't for that this would probably be my favourite Blind Guardian song of all time.

Ashes To Ashes next, and it maintains the dark atmosphere created by The Quest For Tanelorn, while still being very melodic and memorable.

Next up is a true classic. The Bard's Song: In The Forest. I must admit, I didn't really appreciate it until I saw it live. But it was truly amazing when the whole damn crowd were singing along; it was a mighty feeling.
It's a ballad-oriented song, with some lovely acoustic guitar melodies, and a classic singalong chorus á Blind Guardian, and beautiful vocals by Hansi Kürch.

The Bard's Song: The Hobbit is by far the worst song on the album (except for Black Chamber of course, but it doesn't really count...)
It begins pretty nicely with a quite good guitar riff and great drums. It's not a very bad song, but the riffs don't seem carefully written, and it feels quite uninspired. It has it's highlights, but overall it just doesn't match up with the rest of the album. I also find the lack of chorus rather... disturbing, considering it's a Blind Guardian song.

The Piper's Calling is a bagpipe intro to the title track, Somewhere Far Beyond. Coolest. Instrument. Ever.

Next up is Somewhere Far Beyond. This is a truly asskicking song. The songwriting is a mile ahead of The Hobbit, much more inspired. Crazy guitars, insane drumming, mighty vocals, and dark vocals.
But it's not all fast, it contains lots of tempo changes, as one would expect from Blind Guardian.
There's just one thing I don't like about the song: The chorus. It's a great chorus, but the lines of the chorus appear randomly in other parts of the song, and decreases the strength of the chorus, so it's all watered out before it even appears.

The CD version of the album contains three bonus tracks. The first of them is Spread Your Wings, a cover of a Queen song. I haven't heard the original, so I can't compare them, but it's a fantastic ballad.
It has a beautiful piano intro, great vocals, and despite that this is somewhat of a ballad, they manage to pop in some really nice, heavy guitar riffs without making them seem out of place.

Next up is another cover, this one of a band called Satan. The song is another fast one, called Trial By Fire, and this is a truly amazing song.
Just listen to the drumming at the intro! Wicked!
It's a very fast and heavy song, with insane drumming and guitar riffs.
The chorus is pretty weak, unfortunately. It's really nothing bad about it, it just sounds more like a prechorus instead of a chorus, it builds up before a mighty chorus, which never comes.

The final song is just another version of Theatre Of Pain. Not much of a difference here, no need to review this one as well.

Overall, this is definitely one of Blind Guardian's strongest albums, my third favourite in fact.

Speed Metal Classic - 95%

FatalStrike, August 31st, 2002

Although the Blind Guardian of today is producing high quality power metal, there roots lie in a much more fast paced history, and this album is evidence of that. Hansi Kursch can reach high notes at times, but always has a gruffness to his voice that adds to the great music found on this album. Fast intricate guitar work, as well as good support from bass and drums make this a Blind Guardian classic.And now for the song reviews.
The album begins with Time What is Time. The songs begins with a melodic acoustic intro, but swiftly shifts into its true form, a fast paced ass kicker. The second song, Journey Through the Dark continues this theme, having a very cathcy chorus, and pure speed. Black Chamber is a short song featuring Hansi and a piano. Theatre of Pain follows this song, it isn't fast, but moves along at a nice pace and is pretty catchy. A melodic haunting opening awaits the listener on the next track, Quest for Tanelorn, a somewhat fast song, with some nice guitar work, especially towards the end. The creepy intro to Ashes to Ashes should shadow the all out shredder that follows. Definently a highlight of the album. Then comes the two Bard songs, In the Forest is a slow melodic song, while the Hobbit has a much heavier sound, its based on Tolkien's book the Hobbit, nice example of Blind Guardian power metal, as the song couples speed with melody. The Piper's Calling is an all out shred fest... if you consider a slow song played with bagpipes to be a shred fest. It's a skipper. But dont skip over track 10, The title track is the definite highpoint of the album. At over 7 minutes the song is an epic amount of shredding, and a great offering from the band.
On special versions of the cd you will find some bonus cover tracks. A cover of Queen's Spread Your Wings and Satan's Trial by Fire. The better being Trial by Fire, which fits the bands style much more than Queen's. There was also a different version of Theatre of Pain.
In all this album is a definite buy for any fan of Power/Speed metal.