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Fun, sloppy speed metal with a dash of power - 91%

Jophelerx, April 8th, 2012

Tales from the Twilight World has more in common aesthetically with the unambitious, catchy Battalions of Fear than with the more complex, dark and furious Somewhere Far Beyond. That being said, it has significant power metal influences, and shows the beginning of Blind Guardian's progression towards a more complex, more ambitious, more epic sound, as well as the first time they would write songs through premeditated composition rather than band jamming, which is certainly noticeable in the more intricate, yet still relatively simplistic, songwriting.

Unfortunately, Tales isn't exactly the best of both worlds; it's neither as catchy and headbang-able as Battalions of Fear nor as dark and powerful as Somewhere Far Beyond; however, it still succeeds at what it attempts to do. The guitar tone is strong, the melodies are still pretty catchy, and Hansi's voice is good, if not great; his voice is still largely wild and technically poor, which doesn't work as well for a power metal-y album like Tales as it does for one like Battalions. However, it's definitely not bad and works pretty well for the most part, the major exception being the ballad, "Lord of the Rings".

The album can be broken down more or less into two parts: songs that rely more heavily on the speed metal influence, and those that rely more on the power influence. "Goodbye My Friend", "Altair 4", "Lost in the Twilight Hall" and "Tommyknockers" fall into the former category, while "Welcome to Dying", "Traveler in Time" and "The Last Candle" fall into the latter ("Lord of the Rings", as I mentioned earlier, is the oddball of the album as its only ballad).

"Lost in the Twilight Hall" is pretty strong as well, with solid riffing throughout and guest vocals from Kai Hansen, which are hilarious if nothing else. The guitar harmonies here are fantastic, hearkening back to the likes of "Majesty". It creates a pretty strong atmosphere at times, something we'll see from the band more and more in later releases. "Goodbye My Friend" is a darker song that makes use of a slightly worse opening riff that leads into a mediocre verse but a decent chorus. There is some good soloing, but ultimately the song is merely okay. "Altair 4" is a more ambitious number that, unfortunately, falls flat on its face, throwing out several ideas in the span of two and a half minutes that do very little. "Tommyknockers", on the other hand, is a fantastic song, dark and malicious, with some of the best riffs on the album and a killer chorus. Hansi sounds especially fierce here and it's definitely a song you don't want to miss.

"Traveler in Time" starts out with a fun, if not particularly great, riff that leads into a fantastic verse but a mediocre chorus; ultimately "Traveler in Time" is pretty representative of the album as a whole; good but not great. Still, it's definitely worthwhile, although the poor chorus does really bug me. "Welcome To Dying" is another standout track, with an excellent opening riff and guitar work that, with Hansi's vocal lines, work to maintain a strong sense of power throughout the song. The chorus here is especially good, leaving me many times wanting to sing along. "The Last Candle" starts out with an occult-sounding gang chant that explodes into a vicious riff and then some guitar harmonizing to kick off the verse; this is another strong song. The contrast between the warm first half of the verses and the savage second half works well. Additionally, the chorus is pretty damn infectious. However, the best part of the song might be the outro where the two groups of background singers riff off of each other with "Somebody's out there" and "I know there is somebody". It's a great end to a good album.

Finally, we have "Weird Dreams" which is a short, quirky, dissonant instrumental that serves little purpose and is completely skippable; and "Lord of the Rings", which is a well-written ballad with a passable, if less-then-stellar, vocal performance from Hansi. It maintains a pretty enchanting atmosphere, something we really see for the first time from Blind Guardian, which they'll eventually put in the spotlight in albums like Nightfall in Middle-Earth and A Night at the Opera. For their first attempt at a ballad, it really is pretty damn good.

Overall, this isn't their most consistent release nor their most ambitious, but it is a fun album that at times really shines with its guitar harmonies and savage vocal performance from Hansi. Recommended for any fans of Blind Guardian or power metal in general.