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This budding rose's exhibition stage - 93%

TrooperEd, March 30th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2009, CD, Century Media Records (Remastered)

Somewhere Far Beyond continues down the expansion bridge that Tales of the Twilight World (or at least Lord of the Rings) began. A transitional album, although not quite as transitional as say, Killing Machine or Arise, as this album is still about 55% speed metal. Even songs that don't necessarily start that way, like Quest For Tanelorn and The Bard's Song (The Hobbit) can't help but give in to the 200 BPM rhythm Blind Guardian was always chained to. That said, they seem more like involuntary spasms rather than genuine attempts to kick it up a notch.

Not to mention this sound feels like a much more natural evolution of European metal rather than say, Faith No More or the post Operation Mindcrime Queensryche sound. It's very easy to trace the bloodline between this and say, Sad Wings of Destiny and Stained Class. In addition, because of the speed element (not to mention early photos of the band would see them sporting Metallica and Testament shirts), Guardian is using thrash metal as a mechanical modification, such as how an automobile would use a custom engine or fuel intake to increase efficiency. Such an addition would prove to be so useful, most bands with a pure sense for this music would make these features standard issue. Granted you could make the argument that this started with power metal's inception, but somehow Gates to Purgatory, Walls of Jericho, and even the Keeper albums never quite sounded this overtly melodic.

I have just one question. Why the FUCK was Theater of Pain not aggressively marketed to American rock radio? This song could have been the Living After Midnight Guardian needed. All the elements of a classic hit true metal song are here, great harmony riffs, a soaring chorus, a mid-paced rocking rhythm; as long as the band didn't have a video of them prancing around in pantaloons or something stupid like that this absolutely could have been a hit, positioning the band as a worthy successor to the tired sounding Iron Maiden in 1992. It was more perfect than any other song on the album, which would have been written off as too fast by those miserly gatekeepers of radio. Hell there are some 80's Metallica songs that weren't this fast. The Bard's Song (In The Forest)? Yea, ask Extreme how releasing an acoustic heavily melodic based song as a single worked out for their credibility. Don't give me that "Blind Guardian shouldn't make hits" bullshit either. Plus I never cared that much for In The Forest to begin with. However, I certainly won't deny its musical force as a live staple.

Somewhere Far Beyond is essential to any metalhead's collection. Very much worthy of being your first Blind Guardian purchase, as it illustrates the artistic journey between the bands early years and more well known albums like Imaginations From The Other Side and Nightfall On Middle Earth.

Recommended tracks:

Time What Is Time
Theater of Pain
Ashes To Ashes