BLIND GUARDIAN — The God Machine (review)

BLIND GUARDIAN — The God Machine album cover Album · 2022 · Power Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
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As my indisputable favourite band, when Blind Guardian releases a new album it is, understandably, one of the biggest metal events of any year that it happens. In 2022, the event is the release of The God Machine, Blind Guardian's eleventh mainline album and twelfth overall, following the long talked about orchestral album that finally appeared as their previous release, Legacy of the Dark Lands in 2019, which was released under the name Blind Guardian Twilight Orchestra. Excluding that album, it has actually been as long as 2015 since Blind Guardian released a new power metal album. The God Machine represents the proper follow-up to Beyond the Red Mirror, ending their longest gap between studio albums – seven years.

Never the most prolific of bands in terms of turning out new albums, Blind Guardian has always represented quality over quantity. There is not such a thing as a sub-par album in their entire discography and The God Machine is of course not the one to break that trend. In fact, it does much the opposite. Despite some fierce competition from especially 2010's At the Edge of Time, what we have here is easily the strongest release Blind Guardian has put out since their golden years of the 1990s. That's in part due to how much this album actually sounds like their classic period once again. This is the kind of record that will likely make their former drummer Thomen Stauch, who left the band after 2002's A Night at the Opera due to be dissatisfied with the less aggressive direction the other three band members were heading in, wish he was back in the band. It's that much like the 1990-1995 era that produced their trio of aggressive power metal classics: Tales From the Twilight World, Somewhere Far Beyond and Imaginations From the Other Side.

This most aggressive side of Blind Guardian isn't like it hasn't been heard since the 1990s. The last two albums most of all had tracks that harkened back to those days, but they were overall very modern Blind Guardian releases of the kind started by 1998's Nightfall in Middle-Earth; more melodic, progressive, and symphonic. The God Machine instead feels like it may be somewhat reactionary to the fact that their last output was the orchestral album, following the non-metal album with an album that's the heaviest they've been since Imaginations From the Other Side. Signs of the more modern Blind Guardian are still here, such as in Secrets of the American Gods, which is a quite symphonic track, and there's also a ballad, Let it Be No More, but mainly this is a Blind Guardian that is all about speed and aggression, with some actual speed metal once again in evidence within the power metal.

The only thing really missing from making this sound like a true classic Blind Guardian album is one of their folksy ballads like A Past and Future Secret or The Bard's Song: In the Forest. Let it Be No More is quite nice but doesn't quite just work in same way. That said, this is still the closest thing you'll hear to a new 1990s style Blind Guardian album. And it turns out that this is just what the doctor ordered. It is, without a doubt, the best album they've done since then. Great songs, heavy as hell and Hansi Kürsch is on absolute fire, singing like he's in his twenties again instead of his fifties. Together Blind Guardian are giving the power metal genre one big kick up the backside.

Despite being my favourite band, or perhaps because of it, I always find it difficult rate Blind Guardian albums when I review them. I could easily put the majority of them on a pedestal and even the weakest among them is still far stronger than the average album, which is why I have to force myself to be more reserved than I might with other bands. Rate them as only Blind Guardian albums and not more generally as power metal albums. Doing it this way, I had long come to the conclusion that the 1990s was Blind Guardian's five star period and other albums, no matter how good, were the four and a half stars, 'best of the rest' ones.

The God Machine is the Blind Guardian album that proved me wrong.
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Nightfly wrote:
2 months ago
Great album. I think it's one of their best.
Tupan wrote:
2 months ago
Ok, now I am looking forward for this!

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