BLIND GUARDIAN — Tales From the Twilight World (review)

BLIND GUARDIAN — Tales From the Twilight World album cover Album · 1990 · Power Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
The year is 1990. A few years prior the German band Helloween had released a pair of albums, Keeper of the Seven Keys Parts 1 & 2, which have gone down in history as the birth of the metal genre known as power metal. Along with them several other German bands appeared on the fledgling scene such as Scanner, Running Wild and Rage. A thing in common that all these bands have including Helloween is that their roots were very much in speed metal, the genre that spawned power metal. Another band this is true of is of course Blind Guardian. They released two albums in the style called Battalions of Fear and Follow the Blind. Like the others mentioned above, they then made the transition to a power metal band with 1990's Tales From the Twilight World.

Blind Guardian are not only a key band in the genre due to how successful they have been, but because they were one of the ones who really pushed it forward into it's own style. Though there had been several other power metal albums before Tales From the Twilight World the ones that were not still overly dominated by speed metal or heavy metal elements were rare. I would personally count the famous Keeper of the Seven Keys albums as such I have overall always found their production sound to still be very traditional and very much eighties sounding. Running Wild always had a heavy metal side to them while Rage kept both speed and heavy elements on their late eighties work. 1990 was the point where things really started to change for power metal. Former Helloween guitarist Kai Hansen released the first Gamma Ray album Heading for Tomorrow earlier in 1990 of course, during a time when Helloween themselves were gearing up towards the release of the not so fondly remembered Pink Bubbles Go Ape and often loathed Chameleon album, and had also taken the young Blind Guardian under his wing, which resulted in several guest appearances in their early work such as on Tales From the Twilight World during the track Lost in the Twilight Hall. How much of their switch from speed to power metal was his influence is debatable, but what I do know is that with Tales From the Twilight World Blind Guardian were one of the early bands to unify power metal into a distinct style without still have one foot in the camp of another genre.

There are still some speed metal elements on this album of course, but the switch in direction is very evident. The album is hard hitting, admittedly not too polished especially when compared to their following work, but it's that raw energy that makes it a special entry in their discography. Years down the line the power metal genre has become one that certain breeds of metalhead like to snigger at and make jokes about (favourites being that the music is cheesy and that the singers sound like fairies) which makes me wonder what the hell went wrong along the way with the style as it caught on and become standardised, because Tales From the Twilight World is simply fucking metal to the absolute textbook definition. It's heavy, fast, memorable and most of all the vocals are powerful. Hansi Kürsch has not quite hit his peak here even, and he still sounds better than most power metal singers that both came before or since, including Kai Hansen who while I respect immensely as a musician and as the Godfather of power metal, isn't really all that much of a great singer, as evidenced by as his contribution to Lost in the Twilight Hall. I digress, in fact all of the album is powerful work, ballad Lord of the Rings aside. It may seem like a pun to say it, but this album really injected the power into the power metal genre. It's sad how many newer bands don't really have that and how the bands who are harder usually rely on heavy, speed or thrash metal elements to get them there. While there is indeed speed metal on this album it's more of a leftover by-product due to the band's evolution and would be gone completely on their next album.

Blind Guardian's speed metal records were good, but Tales From the Twilight World brought the band onto a whole other level. It's not quite as good as the two albums that they would go on to make next, Somewhere Far Beyond and Imaginations From the Other Side, but it's one hell of a stepping stone towards them. With Lord of the Rings we get the template for the Blind Guardian folk ballad, though sadly they messed up the lyrics, presumably in translation, by singing 'gnomes' instead of 'dwarves', which I'm sure is going to bother any Tolkien die-hards who listen to the song. They fixed this is a later re-recording though. Tracks like Traveler in Time, Welcome to Dying, Goodbye my Friend and Tommyknockers, especially Tommyknockers, are all early power metal classics.

Overall, Tales From the Twilight World really is an essential release. Not only is it an excellent album, but it's also fairly historic in the development of its genre. Awhile I can't quite give it five stars, mostly because there were still a couple of bugs to be worked out of the Blind Guardian sound at this point, it's no less of a classic album. Also if you're one of the people I referred to earlier who think power metal is cheesy and sung by fairies, then listen to this album. This here is power metal with balls!

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more than 2 years ago
It's certainly not my favourite despite the general high regard it has, but I could never consider it their weakest either.
adg211288 wrote:
more than 2 years ago
This was the first Blind Guardian album I bought and they went on to become my favourite band, so this one is definitely special to me. I do prefer the next two by the narrowest of margins. I have the unpopular opinion though that Nightfall in Middle-Earth is their weakest album.
more than 2 years ago
@silly puppy: I'm just passionate about music. I apologise if that can some across as being over-zealous sometimes. Glad you ordered the album. Hope you like it!
more than 2 years ago
@aglasshouse. I like 2000's and later Blind Guardian (At the Edge of Time most of all) but for me the 1990's are their peak. This one through to Nightfall in Middle-Earth.
aglasshouse wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Just realized I said "I think" twice in the same sentence. Whoops.
siLLy puPPy wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Great review! Glad to see you channeling your rage into something more productive. Somehow this is the only Blind Guardian album i don't own and haven't even heard. Just a fluke but i'm ordering it soon because it's lame to have every album but one. For me their canon is hit and miss with nothing being horrible. Just some albums are super strong and others just ok
aglasshouse wrote:
more than 2 years ago
I think this one's pretty great as well. Personally I would probably say I favor it over their monster hits like Imaginations or Somewhere. The 2000's though I think is where I think they started getting REALLY good.
more than 2 years ago
I like him too, I just don't think he can 'technically' be considered a great vocalist. He makes his voice work for his music though and I have always favoured him fronting Gamma Ray over Ralf Scheepers. He's an acquired taste at the very least.
Unitron wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Good review, nice to see you writing reviews! I pretty much agree, though personally I love Kai Hansen and he's always been one of my favorite power metal vocalists.

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