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Blind Guardian - At the Edge of Time - 85%

whitefrozen, October 29th, 2010

If this album shows anything, it's that after 25 years on the scene Blind Guardian is definitely one of the best bands out there. The last album was pretty weak, but this one more than makes up for it.

First off, Hansi's voice is immaculate. The guy's been singing like this for almost 3 decades and he's only gotten better. There's times here that he'll rip your face off with savage ferocity, there's times he'll shatter glass, and then he'll tone it down for a soothing ballad. The choirs sound perfect, as usual. Everything about the vocals on this album is pitch perfect.

The instruments are the same way; after 25 years these guys know how to play their music flawlessly. Guitars range from ultrafast leads, riffs and solos to more standard chords and riffs. It all sounds amazing and the tone the guitars have here is just fantastic. Crunchy, heavy but not obnoxious. The drums...well, Thomen Staunch is still gone. Frederik has gotten faster...but he's still not the same kind of jaw-dropping drummer that Staunch was. He does a fine job but tends to stick to standard patterns and speeds, which is perfect for the music here. He does play all the flutes and bagpipes you hear though (which are used brilliantly in the ballad "Curse My Name"), so that makes up for the slightly boring drumming. On a more positive note, the drums are used perfectly in "War of the Thrones and "Curse My Name" and add a real bombastic and dramatic feel to both those songs.

The production on this album is absolutely perfect; I'll go so far as to say this is the best mix Blind Guardian have ever had. Everything, from the orchestra to the choirs to the instruments sounds perfect and the louder you turn it up the better. This is such a solid mix, I really have to hand it to them for knocking it out of the park with that.

The songs themselves are all really, really good stuff. From fast and aggressive throwback tracks like "A Voice in the Dark" and "Ride Into Obsession" to huge, bombastic and dramatic ballads like "Curse My Name" and "War of the Thrones" to huge mid-paced numbers like "Sacred Worlds" this album has it all. The choruses are huge, the melodies are uplifting, the build-ups are dramatic and the catchiness still has yet to be rivaled by any other band. There's not really a weak track here, but if I had to pick one or two I didn't like as much, it'd have to be "Tanelorn" and "Wheel of Time," as neither of them really have quite the same power behind them as the rest of the album. "Wheel of Time" in particular spends too much time playing around with a Middle-eastern sound, and it takes away from the orchestral bombast it tries to achieve.

While not the high point of their career, "At the Edge of Time" is a terrific Blind Guardian album that's leaps and bounds beyond the previous album. There's something for everyone on this album, and it's all put together so well that I highly recommend any music fan pick this up. Blind Guardian are masters of their craft and really show it with this album.