BLIND GUARDIAN — Battalions of Fear

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3.47 | 43 ratings | 7 reviews
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Album · 1988

Tracklist

1. Majesty (7:31)
2. Guardian of the Blind (5:11)
3. Trial by the Archon (1:44)
4. Wizard's Crown (3:50)
5. Run for the Night (3:36)
6. The Martyr (6:17)
7. Battalions of Fear (6:08)
8. By the Gates of Moria (2:53)
9. Gandalf's Rebirth (2:10)

Total Time: 39:24

Line-up/Musicians

- Hansi Kürsch / vocals, bass
- André Olbrich / guitars, backing vocals
- Marcus Siepen / guitars, backing vocals
- Thomas "Thomen" Stauch / drums

About this release

Release date: February 15th, 1988
Label: No Remorse Records

Thanks to Time Signature, adg211288, DippoMagoo, diamondblack for the updates

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BLIND GUARDIAN BATTALIONS OF FEAR reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

siLLy puPPy
The progressive power metal behemoths today known as BLIND GUARDIAN formed all the way back in 1984 in Krefeld, Germany under the name Lucifer’s Heritage when vocalist and bassist Hansi Kürsch and guitarist Andre Olbrich matched forces with bassist Markus Dörk and drummer Thomas Stauch. BATTALIONS OF FEAR is their first release and is an extremely competent example of how traditional 80s metal was transitioning at the time into different sub genres. There was something going on in Germany in the 80s. BLIND GUARDIAN was on the same trajectory as the other major melodic speed metal band of the day, Helloween. The two bands were intent on keeping the melodic development of their music as the focus of their metal attack while other strains of the genre were deviating in several different directions. BLIND GUARDIAN more than proves themselves as innovators of the future power metal scene by keeping their melodic developments strong and furious on their debut album BATTALIONS OF FEAR.

While the album starts off with a head scratching circus music keyboard riff it quickly blossoms into a full-fledged early power metal extravaganza titled “Majesty” complete with lightning fast riffage and neoclassical Iron Maiden inspired songwriting, but BLIND GUARDIAN were masters of their own destiny from the very start. It is apparent from the very first track of their very first album that these guys were all about quality and despite not exactly delivering a most original sound from the get go, they did exude a very confident delivery of their style that not only displayed their influences but also pointed to an early method of deviation thereof. Yes, the musicianship is more than competently displayed and gives a glimpse into the future but after all is said and done, these tracks are very interesting to listen to.

This has retrospectively been called speed metal but at the time it wasn’t actually known as such. In 1988 thrash and progressive metal were just getting off the ground but a few German bands like BLIND GUARDIAN and Helloween were ramping up the melodic attributes of metal music and have since become two of the major forces in that particular strain of metal magic. While i’m much more partial to the progressively symphonic creativity of later BLIND GUARDIAN releases, i have to admit that i have a special weakness for this debut. While it does exude a sense of sameness thru out the album, all of the tracks are quite catchy in a metal sense and deliver a passionate conveyance of metal energy. While not quite deemed power metal at this point, there is more than enough evidence that a new sub genre of metal would soon gain hold as a distinct and powerful strain of the metal world. BATTALION OF FEAR is one of those major innovators in this development and a ridiculously catchy album that demands repeated listens. Me likey!
Modrigue
Prepare for an epic battle

First studio album of BLIND GUARDIAN, "Battalions of Fear" combines the epicness of 80's IRON MAIDEN with the destruction power of 80's METALLICA. Like their fellow countrymen HELLOWEEN, the music can be described as melodic speed / thrash metal, direct and ferocious. As their debut effort, Hansi Kürsch's singing is a bit rough and the tracks can get a little messy at times, but these small youth flaws are compensated by energy and rage. As you can see with the songs names, Tolkien's mythology is already part of the band's universe, even if the compositions do not possess the refinement of "Nightfall in Middle Earth" yet.

Do not rely on the circus music opening, the powerful "Majesty" is a thundering metal overture, with sharp guitar soli. The best song of the record, and one of BLIND GUARDIAN's classic! The dark "Guardian Of The Blind" also has a devastating riff and a catchy hymn. Very nice. The short instrumental "Trial By The Archon" reminds IRON MAIDEN's "The Ides of March", a little more sophisticated, and introduces the epic and rageous "Wizard's Crown". Wow! Until now, this is nearly perfect. However, the middle of the disc is its weak point. "Run For The Night" enjoyable, but a bit flat, whereas the uneven "The Martyr" has its moments, but is hard to follow and not very coherent.

Fortunately, inspiration comes back with the Maiden-esque title track, a ferocious fast composition with an efficient war hymn. The small melodic thrash instrumental "By The Gates Of Moria" incorporates a few surprises. Not excellent, but not bad either. The other ending instrumental, "Gandalf's Rebirth", is more convincing and coherent, and concludes the record on an enchanting feel.

"Battalions of Fear" is far better than BLIND GUARDIAN's next and other thrash opus, "Follow the Blind" (only "Valhalla" is worth listening in it). Although the music itself is not very original and the band has not crafted their identity yet, the compositions are direct, powerful and epic, without concessions or useless orchestration. What more could you ask for when you're leading your fearless battalions to battle?

An underrated album, one of the best and most aggressive from BLIND GUARDIAN! Very recommended to 80's speed metal, IRON MAIDEN and HELLOWEEN fans!
martindavey87
The first time I heard of Blind Guardian was in 2002, when I'd bought Iced Earth's 'Dark Genesis' collection and they were mentioned a number of times in the biography section. It wasn't too long after that I was in a music shop, coincidently in the bands home country of Germany, where I saw a double pack of 'Battalions of Fear' and it's follow-up album 'Follow the Blind' pretty cheap. Didn't even have to think about what to do.

By this point, I was no longer the young, metal whippersnapper that I was when I'd first heard of Blind Guardian. I had a good sense of what I was into, and, to be blunt, I found this album to be pretty boring and dull.

Fast-forward a couple more years, and MySpace is suddenly booming and it's easier than ever to discover bands. THAT'S when I really got into Blind Guardian! I can't remember which song I heard, but it was big! It was epic! It was bombastic! It was full of metal riffs and glorious orchestrations... it was incredible! How did I not get into this band the first time around?!

I swiftly snapped up most of the groups back-catalogue, then set to work familiarizing myself with their discography...

And that leads me right back to square one; this album is still pretty bland.

There's just nothing really exciting going on here... y'know what I mean? 'Majesty' is an okay song, but most of the tracks are pretty basic power/speed metal. The production leaves the music feeling empty of life, and a lot of the melodies, both musical and lyrical, are just boring and uninteresting.

It's not a terrible album, but if you're looking for some generic and bland 80's power metal, there's much better stuff out there.
Warthur
Blind Guardian's debut album may not be the most original thing they've ever released, the group still grasping towards their distinctive style, but shadows of the symphonic-influenced power metal powerhouse they would eventually become can be glimpsed here and there, and the band bring to the material they have here an energy and enthusiasm which is genuinely infectious. Maybe it is the case that the most classically-tinged track on here is a bonus track (Gandalf's Rebirth), but the thrash and speed-influenced material that makes up the rest of the album represents a more aggressive side of the band that would often be eclipsed later in their career. Blind Guardian would plot a course out of speed metal before long, but if you want an album of them playing in that style rather than the breed of power metal they would make their own this is about as speed metal-ish as they'd get.
Time Signature
By the gates of metal...

Genre: power metal / speed metal

"Battalions of Fear" is the debut album by power metal giants Blind Guardian.

And now for some intertextual reference to another review.

In Valarious' review of this album, Valarious expresses a dislike towards this album because it sounds like a generic 1980s power metal album - and I agree in that description. It does sound a lot like a typical 1980s power metal album, but whether that is a good or a bad thing really depends on what you look for. Valarious was looking for something that the album was lacking and thus found it disappointing, and I totally understand, accept and appreciate that, and most of all, I respect that opinion.

Now, personally I like 1980s power metal, because it tends to be more thrashy and less cheesy than I find a lot of modern power metal to be. Blind Guardian's early releases contain plenty of those thrash and speed metal elements that I like so much, and I actually miss those elements on Blind Guardian's later releases. Fortunately, their first four albums contain lots of such elements, and that is exactly what I like about "Battallions of Fear" - most of the songs on this album are fast paced, yet they are full of catchy guitar melodies and epic-sounding sing-along choruses - all of those things that German power metal bands did so well back in the day - "Majesty" is a good example of that.

Another thing that I like about this album is that, even though it's the debut, and the influences from other bands like Running Wild and Helloween are obvious, there are several Blind Guardian signature elements already, such as the above-mentioned choruses.

I'd recommend this album to fans of power metal and thrash metal.

Members reviews

Mjöllnir
A full throttle debut, moulding harsh thrash into power metal epics that reminds of the harder edged sound of Helloween on their first EP and “Walls of Jericho” album. Coming back to this album from being familiar with their much later output (“Imaginations From the Other Side” onwards), it was nice to hear them with such a stripped down sound, but the over the top tendencies are present and the trademark majestic choruses are already taking shape.

Belting it out in fine style, “Majesty” bursts out after a strange fairground intro. On offer is 7 minutes of blinding speed built around its raw sing-a-long chorus, and riffs slicing to and fro frantically with a youthful Hansi Kursch crying out in his most throaty performance ever (but still recognisable to later fans). Kicking off the chorus with a rousing “whoaaaaaaaah” was the way to go! A good start gets complimented by the menacing and more restrained pace of “Guardian of the Blind”. Sprightly instrumental “Trial by the Archon” leads into a couple of satisfying back-to-basics affairs, “Wizard’s Crown” and crowd favourite “Run for the Night” with such a domineering chorus.

“The Martyr” returns us to the darker, more expansive material at the start of the album, with slower, locked in parts giving way to bursts of forward momentum and the mad flurries of André Olbrich’s leads. Blind Guardian here very much developing their talent for unpredictable song craft with this and the title track. The album closes with two instrumentals, “By the Gates of Moria” and the CD bonus “Gandalf’s Rebirth” utilising similar speed, melody and class, and borrowing liberally from Dvorak’s New World Symphony. A taste of things to come?

An album as straight ahead and so sure of its purpose benefits from a track-by-track review, as a listener could be lead to believe its jolly youthful careering one dimensional, but there’s more at work here if you keep on at it. Raw and wild by their standards, yes, but the ingredients and ambition of the later albums still very much bubbling under the surface.
1967/ 1976
"Battalions Of Fear" is the debut album of Teutonic Speed Symphonic Power Metal wizards Blind Guardian, one of my preferred Classic Metal bands. This debut album is a typical 80's Metal album: poor production and sound mix, great songs, great mentality.

The first song is one of Blind Guardian evergreen: "Majesty". This song is one of the definitive Power Metal songs: power, technique, mix of various genres, feelings in first plan. The correct genre of "Majesty" is Speed melodic Power Metal. As millions of Speed Power Metal songs the neoclassical soli and chorus are the best moments. But this song is a real masterpiece in all moments. "Guardian Of The Blind" is an imitation of US Power Speed Metal and nothing more. "Trial By Archon" and "Wizard's Crown" are a double track. "Trial By The Archon" is the intro of "Wizard's Crown", an enthralling track, a perfect example of European way of Power Metal with great chorus. "Run For The Night", as the title indicates, is an interesting example of Speed Power Metal with an interesting chorus. "The Martyr" is a typical Blind Guardian Symphonic Speed Power Metal with Prog elements. "Battalions Of Fear" is similar at "The Martyr" but present more Symphonic arrangements and a great operatic chorus and a symphonic solo. "By The Gates Of Moria" is a sort of instrumental mini suite with Speed and Symphonic parts that close the original album. "Gandalf's Rebirth" is the CD bonus-track added in 1991 by Virgin and it is a Proto Symphonic Prog Metal song with neoclassical guitar riff.

Certainly "Battalions Of Fear" is only a good debut album. But if good only mean good... Worth listening to an album of this general level.

Ratings only

  • MorniumGoatahl
  • Alex
  • Jbird
  • Pintos
  • TheHeavyMetalCat
  • Necrotica
  • Beyonder
  • powermetal2000
  • Unitron
  • StargazerSlave
  • DippoMagoo
  • yair010390
  • Psydye
  • SevDawg
  • Immortalis
  • Nergal131
  • jsorigar
  • Anster
  • Rendref
  • ninjames
  • jose carlos
  • Tlön
  • 666sharon666
  • Zargus
  • ollischr
  • Vic
  • Tupan
  • IndianaJones
  • CCVP
  • Fantacide
  • adg211288
  • bratus
  • mickemupp
  • earthworm
  • snowman1980
  • Bartje1979

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