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Spoiler: There are no guitars - 56%

EzraBlumenfeld, November 8th, 2019

I'm just going to get straight to the point. A band as influential and beloved as Blind Guardian has every right to hype up their upcoming releases; and fans, of course, have every right to expect a band who has consistently put out solid material to deliver on their reputation.

For the past month and a half, I've been eagerly anticipating the release of Legacy of the Dark Lands by the freshly-dubbed Blind Guardian Twilight Orchestra. I didn't listen to the singles released in advance, as I didn't want to spoil the surprise of what I expected to be an epic power metal masterpiece in the vein of the same band's Nightfall in Middle Earth from two decades prior. Instead, when I put this album on today, I was extraordinarily underwhelmed.

This album is not a metal album in any way. The only member of Blind Guardian to appear at all on this release is singer Hansi Kürsch, who delivers his classic raspy high notes while backed by... the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra? Yes, this album is basically an orchestral solo project for Kürsch. There are no guitars, bass, or drums to be found anywhere on the release.

The songs are written in the regular Blind Guardian style: Relatively progressive song structures with few defined chorus, but accented by Kürsch's breathtaking melodies. Unfortunately, without the accompanying piercing guitar harmonies and rapid double bass patterns that typically define Blind Guardian's sound, the whole album just feels strange. While the orchestral parts are undeniably well-composed and thoroughly thought-out, they fail to be truly captivating and instead aim to create atmosphere.

Production-wise, this album sounds great. The orchestra is mixed in a way that all instruments can be heard clearly yet all take a back seat when vocals are present. Unfortunately, all of the songs blend together for the listener and are nearly indistinguishable due to the lack of (any) interesting riffs.

All in all, Legacy of the Dark Lands is a more-or-less unforgivable release. It represents a near-total departure from anything Blind Guardian has released in the past, and is completely disappointing to any hopeful metalheads who had been pleased by the groups other more recent work. I am glad I decided not to pre-order a physical copy of this album, as I'm sure if I had I would now be extremely angry at myself for wasting my money on such a useless and silly purchase.

Best song: "The Great Ordeal"