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Bold and intruiguing - 100%

ijy10152, March 2nd, 2012

After listening to Blind Guardian’s other works and getting more acquainted with their sound and earlier material I can now properly review this album and I tell you that it is in my opinion their best album to date. Now 2010-2011 was a crazy time for symphonic power metal. Some really good bands came back after long hiatuses and some bands made really good albums after some very meh albums. The question comes to mind - how does this album fit in with the rest of the albums in that time period? My opinion (not that you all care) is yes, it fits in very well and I think that this could be ranked as the best album of 2010-2011. In general, this is a bit of a turnaround for Blind Guardian after A Twist in the Myth and ANATO, which were both very good albums, but were missing something that can be found in albums such as Nightfall in Middle Earth and Somewhere Far Beyond (which was my favorite album by them until this).

Style-wise, it fits in perfectly with the Blind Guardian music style, perhaps improving on it a bit and modernizing that old 90s metal sound and streamlining and smoothing it out. The best song on this album is Sacred Worlds which opens with a really cool symphonic section that leads into a heavy metal section with the orchestra mixed into the background. Blind Guardian is very good at mixing metal with symphonic elements, which is part of what makes them one of the leading bands in the genre. Every song on this album is really good and worth mentioning, and to be honest, I can't really find any weak points. The main ones that deserve mentioning are: Sacred Worlds, Tanelorn, Control the Divine, Voice in the Dark, and The Wheel of Time. Sacred Worlds is simply superb. It is by far my favorite Blind Guardian piece and is the definition of symphonic power metal. It opens the whole album with a really cool orchestral part that leads into the metal part of the song smoothly while still maintaining the symphonic sounds. It has a very catchy chorus and great instrumental solos. In general, Sacred Worlds is an amazing song and deserves some consideration as one of the best metal songs of all time. Tanelorn is a typical Blind Guardian blazing fast metal song that I wouldn't even bother mentioning if it wasn't for the really awesome chorus. I mean it just sticks in your head and refuses to leave. Control the Divine is probably my second favorite song on this album. What I love about it is that it changes tonality a lot and goes from dark and dreary to uplifting and hopeful smoothly and quickly. The chorus is also worth mentioning; it's very catchy and fun to sing. Also, this song involves some more of that symphonic metal element that I just can't get enough of. Voice in the Dark needs to be talked about because it's the heaviest song on here and also the music video/hit song of this album, and it has everything a hit like this needs, fitting very well with the established classic power metal songs such as Hunting High and Low, Dawn of Victory, Unholy Warcry, Black Diamond, ect. This album really streamlines the style that Blind Guardian was trying to establish in A Twist in the Tale and makes it sound a lot better. The Wheel of Time is the best Middle Eastern-style song since Nights of Arabia. This song really captivates that sound and makes it work in a modern music setting really well. This song didn't really amaze me on its first play, but after listening to it several times it grew on me and now I really like it.

Unfortunately, this album is one of those that you have to listen to at least 2-3 times before you'll really start loving it. Some songs like Sacred Worlds, Tanelorn, and Voice in the Dark will hit you right away, but the rest of it kind of takes some time to grow on you. But once it does, I guarantee that you'll be singing these songs in your head over and over again for weeks.