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Even better than the studio versions - 94%

Jophelerx, December 27th, 2011

In 1993, Blind Guardian were still pretty solidly in the speed metal camp, although they had begun to bring in some power metal influences in Tales from the Twilight World and Somewhere Far Beyond, and all of their first four other than Follow the Blind were pretty consistent speed metal albums; people had already come to recognize their catchy guitar harmonies and the powerful, unique vocals of lead Hansi Kursch. Even the drummer, Thomen Stauch, has some pretty unique drum lines in some songs; Blind Guardian stood out from the average speed metal pack in many ways.

That being said, with Tokyo Tales being comprised solely of song from the first four albums, with the slightly weaker Follow the Blind getting only two tracks, the track list is pretty solid. It opens up with "Banish from Sanctuary" (from FtB), which, although probably the weakest track here, still shows off brilliantly the talent of Hansi Kursch, who seems to sound even more powerful here than in any of the studio albums. However, the riffs in this song are pretty repetitive and boring, and although the chorus is extremely catchy, it fails to make up for the rest of the song, making me want to skip to the rest of the album. "Journey through the Dark" is just as awesome here as it is on Somewhere Far Beyond, an aggressive speed metal number with Hansi keeping up to par thorughout the entire song. In fact, most of these songs don't change much at all from their respective albums, expect for Hansi's improved vocals. The fun, slightly lower tier speed metal numbers "Traveler in Time" and "Goodbye My Friend", the blazing epics "Majesty" and "Lost in the Twilight Hall" and the solid power-metalish tune "Welcome To Dying" all sound pretty much the same.

There are a few minor changes, but they hardly detract from the experience. "Quest for Tanelorn features the chant in the second verse from the raspy Hansi, rather than the clean group chant we hear on the album - it doesn't sound as good, but Hansi makes it work without any major issues. On "Valhalla", all the vocals are sung by Hansi, rather than Kai Hansen, who was a guest singer for the song, but this actually fits better with the tight, almost thrashy riffs of the song. Finally, "Time What is Time" is missing both the intro and the outro, both of which were essentially acoustic interludes on the album. I have to say I'm sad to see them go, especially since I know they've done the outro on other live performances, but the rest of the song is perfect, and it doesn't suffer much from the omission.

My only other complaint is the absence of the dark, sprawling "Somewhere Far Beyond" from the setlist, which is easily the best song on the album of the same name, but nonetheless the selection of songs here is good, and the execution is excellent. The only song that you really want to skip is "Barbara Ann" which is pretty laughable, but thankfully not very long, as well as maybe "Banish from Sanctuary". If you're a fan of power/speed metal, or of Blind Guardian's early studio albums, be sure to get this, this is one of the best live albums of the genre.