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Blind Guardian - "A Night At The Opera"
Virgin 2002

At last! The most expected record of the last four years finally came out. Four long years passed since the release of their masterpiece "Nightfall In Middle-Earth", which gave a new standard for this band, known for its perfection. Since their first release "Battalions Of Fear" they have progressed in style from record to record. From classical old school metal to symphonic and epic metal, inspired by fantastic motives, mostly by the literature of J.R.R.Tolkien.

And what about the new album? I expected the same thing, but I was wrong. When I first listened to the record I couldn't understand what was going on and it was all really weird to me. My first question was: "Did the guys from Hamburg finally make a mistake?" The new album contains so complicated songs that they really represent a hard work, even for an experienced listener. But after a few listenings, when I finally came closer to refrains, I was totally amazed. At first I must inform all die-hard Tolkien fans that this album is without concept and there is not a single narration between the songs.

The first song, a great opener, "Precious Jerusalem" is very melancholic but also powerful with lots of back vocals. The second is "Battlefield", a song which I think is the most in "Nightfall In Middle - Earth" style. It really gives you a feeling that you are between the battle of good and evil. Next song, called "Under The Ice" is one of the two songs which are talking about the Trojan war. The fourth song, "Sadly Sing Destiny" gives us a bluesy intro, but after that surprise which fits in greatly, comes a great mid-tempo rhythm, which reminds me of "And The Story Ends" from "Imaginations From The Other Side". The fifth song "The Maiden And The Minstrel King" is a great half-ballad, which also includes baroque tunes. It is a story about non-granted love. When I thought the song was over, there came an unexpected heavy outro. Next song "Wait For An Answer" is one of the most complicated songs on the album, because it includes some progressive elements and a lot of orchestral vocals. With its beginning, "The Soulforged" reminds me on excellent "Mirror, Mirror" from the previous album. This is also a great melodic song with tons of rhythm changes and their typical Blind Guardian riffs. "Age Of False Innocence" is the name of the eighth song. Somehow it's intro reminds me of one of the Virgin Steele songs. This song is about Galileo Galilei and his struggle against inquisition. It's very dramatic but it ends slowly in a psychedelic fashion. "Punishment Divine" is untypical for this band but yet one of the best songs on this album. Here comes the expression of Hansi's great vocal. "And Then There Was Silence", which was also a single is a masterpiece and with no doubt the greatest song from the new album. It is also one of the best songs in band's history. In more than 14 minutes of wonderful melodies, the masters of symphonic metal push us back to the Trojan war. This song is in typical Blind Guardian fashion, but also very different from what they were doing before. It gives you everything you can expect from this band. And those amazing refrains! At the end, there is also a bonus track "Mies Del Dolor", in fact "Harvest OF Sorrow", romantic ballad with Spanish lyrics. The English version can be found on the single "And Then There Was Silence".

With "A Night At The Opera" Blind Guardian proved that they do not fear changes and experiments. And this was a wise choice. Difference in progress between "A Night At The Opera" and "Nightfall In Middle-Earth" means another great step forward for the band. Like ten-years-back difference between "Tales From The Twilight World" and "Somewhere Far Beyond". We have been waiting so long but now we can say that the result is great. If you want to know what the best Blind Guardian album up to date sounds like, go to a CD shop immediately, there is no other choice. The mighty Guardian is finally back!

Author:   Peter

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