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An accurate preview. - 80%

hells_unicorn, August 3rd, 2010

At one point or another, every band with a lengthy career will repeat themselves. Blind Guardian are no exception to this rule, although the primary way that they continually repeat themselves is in their approach to promoting albums. Be it the ever memorable ballad lead off to single to “Imaginations From The Other Side” aptly titled “A Past And Future Secret”, or the deceptively powerful lead off to the somewhat lackluster “A Twist In The Myth” known to the common man as “Fly”, a typical formula of providing a memorable and hard hitting fanfare, and two counterpoints in a folksy acoustic ballad and a genre-bending cover song, always emerges. Naturally there are nuances between each of these singles, and “A Voice In The Dark” tends a little bit closer to “Fly”, except in that it is a little bit more indicative of how “At The Edge Of Time” sounds as a whole.

Whether or not the title song is a reaction to disappointment among the fans in this band’s lighter approach of late, “A Voice In The Dark” is a clear nod back to the transitional blend of chorus-oriented power metal and older guard speed metal that defined the band’s early 90s releases. It’s faster, heavier, less drenched in harmonic lead guitar passages, and much simpler in its presentation. In fact, apart from a somewhat more processed and squeaky clean drum production and a slightly less gravely vocal delivery, this song is radically similar to several heard on Thomen Stauch side-project Savage Circus’ debut album “Dreamland Manor”. It’s a bit formulaic and predictable, but also a fun listen and a very good indicator of the harder-edged nature of the recently released full length it’s drawn from.

The accompanying music is a little bit more of a mixed bag, particularly if one wants a good impression of what is to come. The folk-ballad “War Of The Thrones” bears a heavy resemblance to “A Past And Future Secret”, featuring the same sort of plain strummed, melancholy ode to arcane storytelling, but with a happier sounds chorus the resembles a military march. Perhaps its biggest flaw is a little less distinctiveness to it than the dancing “Skalds And Shadows”, the epic and complex “Lord Of The Rings” and the deeply memorable “In The Forest”. The John Farnham cover is where some remnants of the progressive rock influences of “A Twist In The Myth” start to reemerge. There’s an interesting hodgepodge of techno and folk music additives that lighten the load quite a bit, not to mention that the guitar tone sounds a bit more spacey and mechanical, but it’s carried fairly well for what it is.

Those who jumped the gun and purchased this single, at the very least, got some good upfront advice on what they should purchase next. It might be a bit cliché, but Blind Guardian has definitely made a comeback here, at least insofar as those who want more of their roots showing in their music. But those who held off, picking up a copy of the new full length album will suffice, as this doesn’t serve much purpose apart from promotion except for those interested in hearing the uncharacteristic cover song found on here.