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Better than I first gave it credit for. - 61%

ConorFynes, May 28th, 2015

Although my listening and reviewing habits used to be driven by the tendencies of an unhealthy completionist, I've since all but thrown 'single' releases to the curb, in all but the most exciting cases. It's sometimes interesting to see what song a band (or label) has chosen to represent its native album, but in genres where real radio play is a fever dream and the rest of the album is usually another click away, singles have little more relevance than best-of compilations. The irrelevance is triply applicable to singles after the hype of their flagship album has come and gone. Regardless, I feel like A Voice in the Dark has been worth revisiting as a single, if only because it was a rare case that informed, or more accurately dissuaded my experience of the album it promoted.

Blind Guardian was one of my favourite metal bands when At the Edge of Time dropped in 2010, and my love for them has only grown. Although A Night at the Opera and Nightfall in Middle-Earth both ranked among my favourite power metal albums (and still do), listening to "A Voice in the Dark" was actually enough to keep me from checking out the rest of the album. It sounds strange to say, but I was put off by the sterile sound of it enough that I lost interest in seeing what the rest of the album had in store. As it turns out, I got around to listening to At the Edge of Time five years later. Indeed, a lot of my apprehensions were confirmed on the album-- it felt overproduced, and more of a fan-pleaser than forward-thinking art-- but my opinion on the song itself has changed. I think "A Voice in the Dark" is a pretty good song now; it was one of the few songs of their newest period that may have fit comfortably on an older Blind Guardian album, factory furnished production notwithstanding of course.

Although it doesn't have one of their better choruses, the structure of the song feels both urgent and sophisticated. I would have thought "Tanelorn" too be the best teaser for At the Edge of Time, but "A Voice in the Dark" carries a lot of the things one would expect in Blind Guardian-- lavishly overdubbed vocal arrangements, speed and epic scope among them. If there's anything yet of value to the present-day listener, the b-sides would be the thing. Although their cover of John Farnham's "You're the Voice" ranks among the most middling interpretations they've ever recorded (the original isn't good to begin with) the unplugged take of "War of the Thrones" is worth a listen; I do think the fireside intimacy of acoustic guitars works better for their minstrelsy tunes than the bigger arrangement featured on the main album.