Album Review no.17: Battalions of Fear - Blind Guardian

Blind Guardian is a band that I've been interested in recently. A big part of this is the high quality of their debut, blending power and speed metal in a great way while also having the beautiful cheesiness of the lyrics that i haven't heard since Dio.

From a slightly gimmicky opening, the intro blasts in and completely catches you off guard, at least it did for me, I was expecting a less heavy power metal band than this (I didn't know at the time that their first few albums were classified as speed metal). The main verses have a great sound to them, with all round well played instruments and an amazing vocalist (even if he can't pronounce his Rs properly). My favourite thing about this song is definitely that mini solo after every vocal section, it just sounds so cool. The main chorus is also really good, it really shows the vocal talent of Hansi Kursch. I think that this is a great song to open with, it shows of the potential of this band and sounds really good.

Guardian of the Blind:
The drums are consistently strong the entire time, and the solos are great. I find the tempo to be a very strange thing in this song, in the first minute and a half, it changes 2 - 3 times, it does provide something interesting though. I personally couldn't get behind the melody of this one though, it just doesn't sound that amazing to me. I do have to give many props to the instrumentals in this song though, the constant solos really save this from being dull at all.

Trial by the Archon:
Not much to say on this one, as it's purely instrumental, but I find it to fit with the feel of the album as well as souding really good in general. It's a nice, short interlude to break possibility of monotony. It isn't very memorable though

Wizard's Crown:
The chorus in this one is the definite highlight, it may be extremely simple, but you can't deny how great it sounds. As for the rest of the song, I find it to be pretty good, but definitely not as memorable as other songs. The riff is also good, and the solos are great. I wish this one went for a couple of extra minutes though, it feels a bit too short.

Run for the Night:
This is probably one of the most speed oriented songs in the album, it's a great song though. Unlike the previous 3 songs, I found myself loving something more than the chorus and riffs, the main verses also are really good. I like the slower pace of the solo for the most part, I find it better fitting to the rest of the song, and it's not like it completely skimps out on having insanely fast parts to it. The vocals are also particularly strong on this track.

The Martyr:
The song starts off nice and slow, with a riff that honestly wouldn't sound out of place in a classic Iron Maiden album, even the fast parts of this song aren't anywhere near as fast as in previous songs. When everything picks up, the solo that is played is so weird, yet so cool, I love the inclusion of it. The chorus with the multiple voices shouting things is also really cool and one of the few things that I would consider power metal-esque in this album. I do find the song to be overlong though, I think that they could have but about a minute of this out (and maybe put it on Wizard's Crown?).

Battalions of Fear:
I personally count this as the closer of the album, as the true final track is an instrumental. This and Majesty are definitely my 2 favourite songs on the album, they both feel entirely complete, with very little flaw in either of them. The vocals, especially at the start are amazing, with that ridiculous high note. The rest of the song is great, as it's a combination of amazing riffs and what are easily the best solos of the album. The closing section also has a really cool little instrumental piece.

By the Gates of Moria:
Was that really the Jaws theme at the start? Seems a bit odd, but whatever, this is a vastly superior instrumental to Trial by the Archon, the riffs are more memorable, the playing is even better, and this one has a cool part where everything stops except the bass for about 2 seconds. A fun way to close the album, but I think this should have gone right before Battalions of Fear.

Gandalf's Rebirth:
When thinking about the fact that a lot of metal has its roots in classical music, this is the song that makes me truly believe that. If this were played on classical instruments and changed very slightly, I think that it would sound a lot like something from that period of time. This is by far my favourite instrumental on the album, it combines great playing with a good general sound.

4*10 + 3*8 + 7 + 6 + 8.9 = 86/100

Final Thoughts:
This is a great debut, it has a lot of great moments in it, even if many of the songs are slightly underdeveloped, the album as a whole is quite consistent with no moment that is particularly bad. I enjoy the vocals greatly and the instrumentals are also amazing. Something that I didn't mention in the review at all was the fact that so many of the vocals are the cheesiest things ever, and I love that. I missed the fantasy vocals that Dio brought to the table, so this band also scratches that itch for me. All in all, I say that this is a good album, but if you want a first taste of Blind Guardian, get Somewhere Far Beyond first, this sounds nothing like some of their later work.