Nightfall in Middle-Earth
BLIND GUARDIAN

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BLIND GUARDIAN - Nightfall in Middle-Earth cover
3.92 | 61 ratings | 9 reviews
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Album · 1998

Filed under Power Metal

Tracklist

1. War of Wrath (1:50)
2. Into the Storm (4:24)
3. Lammoth (0:28)
4. Nightfall (5:34)
5. The Minstrel (0:32)
6. The Curse of Feanor (5:41)
7. Captured (0:26)
8. Blood Tears (5:25)
9. Mirror Mirror (5:06)
10. Face the Truth (0:24)
11. Noldor (Dead Winter Reigns) (6:51)
12. Battle of Sudden Flame (0:44)
13. Time Stands Still (at the Iron Hill) (4:53)
14. The Dark Elf (0:23)
15. Thorn (6:19)
16. The Eldar (3:39)
17. Nom the Wise (0:33)
18. When Sorrow Sang (4:25)
19. Out on the Water (0:44)
20. The Steadfast (0:21)
21. A Dark Passage (6:01)
22. Final Chapter (Thus Ends...) (0:48)

Total Time: 65:39

Line-up/Musicians

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

with

- Oliver Holzwarth / bass
- Mathias Weisner / keyboards, effects
- Michael Schüren / grand piano
- Max Zelzner / flutes
- Norman Eshley / voice acting, narration
- Douglas Fielding / voice acting, narration
- Billy King / choir
- Rolf Köhler / choir
- Olaf Senkbeil / choir
- Thomas Hackmann / choir

About this release

Release date: April 24th, 1998
Label: Virgin Records

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

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BLIND GUARDIAN NIGHTFALL IN MIDDLE-EARTH reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

Modrigue
Epic in Metal-Earth

What an evolution from their thrashy debut "Battalions of Fear"! With "Nightfall In Middle-Earth", BLIND GUARDIAN found at least the magic formula they were searching for. This sixth studio album is the achievement of the symphonic epic/medieval metal style the band has been crafting during the 90's. The compositions are now complex and refined, with magnificent choirs, majestic soli and powerful orchestrations. The theatrical impression has been enhanced too, with multiple different atmospheres and instruments. Some early fans can regret that the initial rage and direct approach present in the band's first compositions were left aside in favor of more polished sonorities and arrangements. Nevertheless, the music is like no other and still remains impacting.

Instead of "Lord on the Rings", from which most Tolkien's fan musicians draw their inspiration from, "Nightfall In Middle-Earth" is based on the complex "Silmarillion" collection. Each track relates an episode from the story of Middle-Earth, during a particular age. The record alternates songs and short spoken passages, sometimes with a discrete instrumentation. For this review, I will only focus on the "true" songs.

The thundering "Into The Storm" is gorgeous and haunting, it nearly touches perfection. Beginning softly, The medieval ballad "Nightfall" possesses an enchanting melody, whereas the dark "The Curse Of Feanor" contains fulminating guitar interventions. "Blood Tears" alternates calm, sad and violent moments, and is followed by the best track of the disc, "Mirror Mirror". A brilliant evolving song, catchy and powerful, with a slight medieval flavour. Mindblowing!

In contrast, "Noldor" is rather sad. Not the most remarkable track, but nonetheless pleasant. The theatrical "Time Stands Still" is also enjoyable, while "Thorn" is somber and melancholic. Then comes the piano ballad "The Eldar". Original, however a bit cheesy and out of place. Back to life with "When Sorrow Sang", an energetic and slightly gothic song that rocks! The ender "A Dark Chapter" has a middle-eastern feel but is a little hard to follow and finally uneven.

So, is "Nightfall In Middle-Earth" the ultimate symphonic / epic metal album? To be honest, it has a few flaws and I'm not a big fan of repeated spoken interludes (half of the track-list!). Nonetheless, the music is on par with the superb cover art: majestic, elaborated, heroic, complex... Some songs are just breathtaking. More theatrical, less direct than the former opuses, this disc may not instantly appeal to early 80's fans, but what the band lost in spontaneity has been gained in refinement. Unique.

"Nightfall In Middle-Earth" is an essential album of the genre, as well as BLIND GUARDIAN's summit. A treasure in the land of symphonic epic metal!
Kingcrimsonprog
Blind Guardian had a very difficult task on their hands when they found themselves having to follow up the successful Imaginations From The Other Side album, but in 1998 they released their seminal classic sixth full-length studio album Nightfall in Middle Earth – a monstrously good album full of charm, eccentricity and an absolute ton of brilliant music.

Nightfall’ is a concept album based on Tolkien’s book The Silmarillion (which is a logical move from the band who wrote ‘Lord Of The Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit’). The concept adds an extra layer of interest to things. It is filled with spoken dialogue and sound effects in between the true songs to get you in the mood – It could seem a bit gimmicky to some listeners but it fits very naturally with the band’s style. It also sees the band move even further in the Progressive direction, with very clear and obvious Gentle Giant influences not only in the vocal department but also in some of the arrangements.

That’s not to say that it abandons the band’s trademark Euro-Melodic-Power Metal meets Bay Area Thrash mix, it is still full of fun quick guitar leads, crushing Thrashy riffs and everything else that made the band work up until this point, just further mixing in the elements they’d been hinting at more and more with each passing album. The real thing that hits you about the album, regardless of what style it is in, or what speed the band are playing, is the sheer amount of catchy parts and memorable tunes. This is stuff that sticks in your head for a long time.

Highlights include “Time Stands Still (At the Iron Hill),” “Mirror Mirror” and “Nightfall.” This is some seriously memorable, catchy, enjoyable Metal. Check those songs out if you want to try something before you commit.

Overall; There’s a lot of song writing depth, there’s plenty of bite and edge to the music, there’s a near endless supply of catchy choruses. This is one of the subgenre’s finest records, one of the band’s finest records and one of the best Metal records of its entire decade. Its must-own stuff for sure, and I’d highly recommend checking it out if you haven’t yet.
Warthur
Blind Guardian's Nightfall In Middle-Earth finds the band moving out of their comfort zone and doing something a little ambitious - a lavish concept album drawing on the narrative of the Silmarillion, the body of myth and legend penned by Tolkien which forms the backstory to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Whilst many artists find that the concept album format helps add focus and direction to their music, I feel Blind Guardian stumble here.

Firstly, they inject the album with far too many narrative interludes, ruining the flow of the music; secondly, even with the narrative interludes, the plot is extremely hard to follow unless you're already very familiar with the story. In retrospect, they might have had a bit more success if they'd honed things down to focus on a particular story from the Silmarillion rather than trying to take in as much of the whole narrative as they could.

Finally, when it gets right down to it the music on this album is much the same as on any other Blind Guardian album from this period in their career - cheesy power metal with stirring vocal harmonies are the order of the day and there really aren't that many surprises. In short, what you get here is an alright Blind Guardian album bogged down by the band's attempt to add narrative structure.
Wilytank
Since there are people going around claiming that Blind Guardian is the only power metal band that you can wear a shirt bearing their logo and still get laid, I had to go ahead and buy this album (for around 5 or 6 dollars) at a used CD store. What I can tell you now is that I ended up being less than impressed. 'Nightfall in Middle-Earth' promises a whole, literal fantasy landscape and ends up throwing the listener a book (almost literally with the ridiculous liner notes) and telling them to work off that.

I'll start off with what irks me the most about this album: interludes! Too many fucking interludes! They take up around seven minutes of this album and occur right after almost all the real songs on here. They are totally unnecessary and totally unwanted. I thought this was supposed to be power metal, not German time waste! Hansi Kürsch, if you wanted to bow to Tolkien so badly and convince others to do the same, you shouldn't have put such useless filler in. In fact, stupid shit like "The Minstrel" makes me want to do the exact opposite. "What will be next? I still don't have a clue." Go to hell.

However, there are some really good tunes to be heard among the actual songs. There's excellent songs here with catchy hooks and well crafted variations. When Blind Guardian get it right, they really produce some valuable pieces of gold. "The Curse of Feanor" and "Mirror Mirror" are some awesome fast-paced licks, and "Nightfall" is a pretty epic if you're looking for a slower piece. There is one song here though that really annoys me: "Noldor (Dead Winter Reigns)". You know those slow power metal ballads that nobody really likes? This is by-far one of the worst ones I've listened to. I know these types of songs are supposed to be emotional and whatnot, but this is just unnecessary overkill.

And there are also songs like "Blood Tears" and "Time Stands Still (At the Iron Hill)" that are just okay. It's in songs like these that Hansi's voice gets grating, wearing out my enthusiasm. With the interludes added alongside, the album seems to get old faster than it really should. The Middle Earth vibe that seemed intriguing at first ultimately became too much for me and had me looking for something decidedly less nerdy by the end of the album.

There are single songs or parts of songs that were really good in this album, but ultimately this isn't worth getting if you're just a casual power metal fan. There's plenty of power metal material out there (including other albums by Blind Guardian) that isn't as tiring as 'Nightfall in Middle Earth'. Go find them instead.
adg211288
Nightfall in Middle-Earth is the sixth full length album by German band Blind Guardian. It is a concept piece based on Tolkien’s The Silmarillion. This is a landmark album for Blind Guardian for a few reasons, those being:

a) This is the first album that frontman Hansi Kürsch does not play the bass guitar on, due to his wish to concentrate on singing.

b) This is the point in Blind Guardian’s career where they really shake off those speed metal influences and become a fully fledged power metal band.

c) This is often hailed as the definitive Blind Guardian release by their fanbase and the media alike.

There’s just one problem with that last for me, this isn’t my favourite Blind Guardian album, in fact this may just be my least favourite Blind Guardian album, I haven’t really decided between this and their second album Follow the Blind. However there is a reason that Blind Guardian is my favourite band, they haven’t ever made a bad album, so please don’t think by those words that I’m going to give Nightfall in Middle-Earth a bad write up, it’s actually a very good album, but I need to clear the air about it being their best because even from a neutral standpoint, I just can’t see how this is the band’s best album. To me the real definitive works of Blind Guardian are what I like to call their Big 3, namely the three albums that preceded this one, those being Tales From the Twilight World, Somewhere Far Beyond and Imaginations From the Other Side, with the absolute peek being at Imaginations. So with that out of the way, without any further ado, the album.

There are a lot of tracks on Nightfall in Middle-Earth, a total of twenty-two, or at least it looks that way at first glance, once you take away all the interludes you’re actually left with an album that contains eleven songs. That’s a fairly decent amount for an album and these will be the main focus of this review. The other tracks are the intro (War of Wrath) and interlude pieces designed to help advance the story the album tells. There are spoken words in abundance in these tracks, and that in itself is why these tracks are an integral part of the album’s structure, they could have easily just merged all the interlude tracks into the actual songs, and while the album would still work as a whole like that the end result would actually be poorer overall due to taking away the ability to just enjoy the songs as separate pieces, since there are a couple of tracks in particular on Nightfall in Middle-Earth that really stand out for me as some of the best of Blind Guardian and I know that I for one like to play them on their own.

After War of Wrath is over the first song we get is Into the Storm. The change in sound from the previous album is evident at once right down to the sound of the guitars to Hansi’s vocal delivery. This is a pretty good song but it’s not one of the three that I’d consider the real greats of the album. The first of those greats is Nightfall, which has a very folksy feel to it and is the fourth track on the album. The ninth track Mirror Mirror is my next highlight, mainly because of its frankly excellent chorus. And finally there is Time Stands Still (At the Iron Hill), which makes up my three favourite tracks from the album and what I consider to be its gems.

The Curse of Fëanor was actually the first Blind Guardian song I ever heard, that was several years ago now, and here’s the funny thing, I didn’t like it then and to be honest the track still to this day doesn’t really do an awful lot for me, and I’d go as far to say that it alone is one of the reasons why I consider Nightfall in Middle-Earth is be one of the weaker Blind Guardian releases. The main problem here I think is that I just don’t find it very memorable. With other releases I can usually think of a track and hear it in my head, with this one I struggle, it always manages to pass me by without making any sort of an impression.

There are other strong moments in the album, such as the songs Blood Tears, The Eldar and A Dark Passage (the outro of the latter really has a great feel to it with its haunting vocals gradually fading out), but overall Nightfall in Middle-Earth doesn’t make quite the same impression on me as the majority of the group’s other albums to date, and I’m not just talking about my personal Big 3 there. It’s a solid release, but one that is best taken as a whole in order to get the full benefits from it. The tracks that are songs can be taken separately but to me it’s really the three tracks that I singled out above that have the same power if you do so.

Now for an extra note on the Remastered version of the album. Unlike some of the other albums this one only contains the one bonus track but fortunately it’s a real good one, namely Harvest of Sorrow. This is another of those Blind Guardian songs where they start to get folksy and is possible the only reason to what to own this version, because the track is actually one of the best on the release. The downside to this version is that the originally linear notes which contained notes on the concept have been removed.

(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven)
arcane-beautiful
This seems to be their most critically claimed album, and to be honest I can kind of see why. But theirs one problem…it’s not my favourite. I haven’t heard a lot of Blind Guardian albums, but everyone assures me this is their best, but it’s not to me.

My brother and me have a conflicting side with this, where he feels that this album is their best and I’m not the biggest fan of it, and I feel the same way about Imaginations.

This is a concept album, and it did make the album that little more enjoyable, and there are some songs on this which I feel are their best to date, but maybe its too much material. I mean this album is over an hour long, and the interludes, which I do make the album flow quite well, are a bit confusing at times, and you can’t keep up with it. But besides that, it’s a great metal album, and it is a classic album nonetheless.

1. War Of Wrath – Good intro. 9/10

2. Into The Storm – Epic with an amazing chorus. Great vocals. One of their best songs. 10/10

3. Lammoth – Quite noisy. 8/10

4. Nightfall – Such a beautiful song. The arrangement is amazing and Hansi’s vocals show so much emotion. 10/10

5. The Minstrel – Quite plinky plonky and nice. 9/10

6. The Curse Of Fëanor – Again amazing vocals. Pretty interesting chorus. 8/10

7. Captured – Good interlude. 8/10

8. Blood Tears – Nice chorus and interesting arrangement. 9/10

9. Mirror Mirror – Very celtic. Great chorus. 9/10

10. Face The Truth – Another interlude. 8/10

11. Noldor (Dead Winter Reigns) – Pretty interesting arrangement. One of their most proggiest moments. 9/10

12. Battle Of Sudden Flame – Another Celtic song. 9/10

13. Time Stands Still (At The Iron Hill) – Vocal interlude.9/10

14. The Dark Elf – Great arrangement with some nice vocals. 9/10

15. Thorn – Amazing vocals. Beautiful song. 9/10

16. The Eldar – Nice sad moments, and the piano works well with Hansi. 9/10

17. Nom The Wise – Interlude…blah blah blah. 8/10

18. When Sorrow Sang – Fast and melodic. Pure Blind Guardian really. 10/10

19. Out On The Water – Oh look, another interlude. 8/10

20. The Steadfast – Dramatic dialogue. 9/10

21. A Dark Passage – Quite symphonic. Epic as hell and very interesting indeed. 10/10

22. Final Chapter (Ends Thus…) – And so the album ends with what the album is mainly made of….INTERLUDES!

CONCLUSION: I think I need to give this another listen, but at the moment…It’s great basically haha.
Conor Fynes
'Nightfall In Middle-Earth' - Blind Guardian (8/10)

There is something special about this album. To take on a project as massive as transcribing a major work of Tolkien (The Simarrillion) into a work of music (and do it well) is quite the accomplishment. Blind Guardian have crafted a real classic with 'Nightfall In Middle Earth' and while it may not compare to the band's magnum opus 'Night At The Opera,' it still remains a classic album, and one that every fan of the band's work should have in their collection.

One of the main issues that most people seem to have with the album are the exorbitant amount of interludes and 'dialogue' moments in the album. While I can certainly see validity in the arguement against these plot elements, I think while it certainly does detract from the album on a song-to-song basis, it really helps put the album together as a single work. In other words, this in an album best listened to from start to finish.

If you're a fan of Tolkien's literary works, you'll find yourself enjoying this album alot more then someone who isn't into fantasy literature. I myself love the concept behind it, and appreciate the creative spirit behind it. It's a truly epic work of power-prog metal, and anyone with a taste for fantasy-based metal should certainly check this out. Not as good as 'Night At The Opera,' but certainly a masterpiece in it's own right.
Time Signature
Face the truth...

Genre: progressive/symphonic power metal

Hailed by many as Blind Guardian's best effort, "Nightfall in Middle-Earth" is a bit over the top for my tastes. Well, that is, musically, there's nothin as such wrong with it. I really like how the band makes use of elements from a wide variety of musical styles and traditions, instrumentations and effects. The Queen-inspired choral arrangements also work quite well, and the musicianship in general is stunning.

That being said, I think the album lacks the speed metal energy of the predecessors. There is still some, and that works fine, but it also takes something away from the Blind Guardian sound - then again, I applaud the band for being in a constant process of development, and, choices have to be made, and Blind Guardian has chosen to cut back on the speed metal to make room for the symphonic aspects.

The thing that really gets to me on this album are all the non-musical interludes - especially those that contain narration and voice acting. That's simply just too cheesy for my taste. I simply find them annoying - thank god I can skip them on my iPod.

This still is a good album. No doubt about that. Musically, it certainly is magnificent. But the interludes ruin a bit of the experience for me.

It will probably appeal to fans of power metal, but I think that some people will find it to be too much in terms of epicness and pompousness.

Members reviews

bratus
If I were asked to name 3 best albums of Power Metal ever, my choice would be:

1. Blind Guardian 'Nightfall in Middle-Earth' (1998)

2. Gamma Ray 'Land of the Free' (1995)

3. Helloween 'Keeper of the 7 keys. Part 2' (1988)

'Nighfall in Middle-Earth' is Magnum Opus of Blind Guardian and an example that Power Metal does not necessarily mean 'Kindergarten Metal' which unfortunately can not be said about most of the bands playing mmusic in this style nowadays.

It will definetely take some time before you start to love this album. My first impression when I got it, was 'What a crap'. And now for me this album is Top 1.

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