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And then there were the Guardians - 93%

Lucian, June 18th, 2007

Good old times, when "power" was often said together with "speed", and Helloween were ruling the power metal scene. If they were the kings, the princes were Blind Guardian. Speedy, powerful and "poshly rude". During the march through time they have lost a bit of that rudeness and have made their sound much more sophisticated, and sometimes more progressive.

The ultimate progressive movement in BG history is And Then There Was Silence. Ordinary power metal fans should be aware that this song is all but ordinary BG one. Released as a single of the "A Night at the Opera" album, ATTWS is an epic ride lasting 14 minutes, telling about the end of Troy from the Trojan point of view.
Power, epic and progressive metallers are invited to enjoy it, since there is all they need to hear in a song. Powerful vocals, epic choirs, and so many changes of rythm, ranging from up-tempos to ballads part, that prevent the listener from annoying.
The structure of the song is quite traditional, despite the length. But every part was made majestic. So we have very long verses and a chorus of about 30 seconds repeated three times. No bridges, but who cares?
The lyric is deeper than any other story-based one of BG, it really catches the feelings (angst, desperation and even happiness, as you can see in one of the final parts) of the Trojan people.

Instrumentally, the riffs are mostly very inspired and well-fused with Hansi Kursch vocals. The most impressive element is the drumming, on which Thomen really goes crazy more than once, making you hear and "feel" its light-speedness and fantasy making this session one of his best performance of his career.
One of the best points of all is that there are no time-excedeed and annoying instrumental parts, there are only two stops in the whole song, that wouldn't cause this to be boring. You should appreciate this aspect, since many other long suite have this “little” problem.
On the bad side, the choirs may appear over-used, because Hansi has mostly never left alone to sing. This could cause too many not to fully appreciate the singer's vocal performance, which is damn good. In my opinion, choirs are made so “invadent” in order to make it seem that the Trojans are truly singing. Another particular aspect is the
In the end, ATTWS is also surprisingly good to play live, of course, without the nearly-omnipresent choirs (it would be good sometimes), as the BG have shown many times on stage, often inviting the metallers to sing along with them in order to sobstitute the absent back choirs.

The b-side of this single is the track called Harvest of Sorrow, which was originally meant for the Nightfall in the Middle-Earth album, as it again deals with the Silmarillion. It is a tragic love ballad, where keybord symphonic sound predominated, with some acoustic guitar riffs and the vocals of Hansi are so soft and kind. A very good ballad, yes, but every BG ballad is very good or better, so Harvest of Sorrow doesn’t represent the surprise like The Bard’s Song or A Past and Future Secret were.

The last track is a multimedia video of Born in a Mourning Hall, from Imaginations from the Other Side album. It is an exceptionally good up-tempo, but it seems a little out-of-its-right-place here, since the sound is very different and doesn’t fit with the rest of the single, for it is more “rude”, as even so Hansi vocals. But it still can be good in order to understand differences between yesterday and today, which are many. While ATTWS is more epic, here there are more “violent” vocals and more fast and “assassins” riffs guitar and drums, where Thomen shows once again who is the master. Too bad that it can be listened with a normal CD player… you must have a PC in order to play the video, which was already spread via the internet. So nothing new.

So you get a great epic suite, a nice ballad and an already-seen video. This may seem a little low content considering that the most important track is on the ANATO album. I don’t care if you buy the single or the album, but you should definately listen to this song, by one way or another. If you are a purist of old-times BG you could prejudge this, but it would be a mistake. This is evolution. Those who like long suits, epic choirs, and changing rythms should welcome and enjoy And Then There Was Silence.