ATF Review: Blind Guardian – Tales From The Twilight World

Location: Krefeld, Germany
Released: October 3, 1990
Genre: Power/Speed Metal
Format Reviewed: FLAC
Feature: Global Conquest – All Time Favorites

By: Kris Kotlarik

When I saw Blind Guardian in Belgium at PPM Fest 2012, I stumbled into a conversation in which fans were discussing whether Nightfall in Middle-Earth or Imaginations From The Other Side is their most complete album. I only love a few of the songs from each of those albums. I heard some discussion for A Night At The Opera, which has some amazing songs, such as “Under The Ice,” “Punishment Divine,” and the epic “And Then There Was Silence,” but a lot of filler material as well. So, being in a new environment and looking for people to talk to, I said “well, what about Tales From The Twilight World?” I received several blank stares and they suddenly started speaking in German.

I probably differ from the vast majority of The Bards, but I consider Twilight World to be their most complete effort, and by a substantial margin. There is not a single bad track on here, Hansi Kursch is stellar, and the hidden feature is the classical influences that are all over. Those who are more trained in classical will probably be able to pinpoint them much quicker than I did, and while I have an appreciation for classical music I would most likely fail a “which composer wrote this piece?” quiz if it gets any more advanced than the obvious classics.

In general, everything you have ever loved/hated about Blind Guardian is on full display here, but with far less symphonic elements than their later materials. For those not familiar, there are guitar solos everywhere, just about every single chorus is catchy, and the lyrics to every song have something to do with science fiction and/or fantasy. If that’s not your thing, you probably won’t like this, either. I’m rather averse to most power metal bands and albums (read: Sonata Arctica), but this hits the spot.

On an album with no bad songs, the two best songs, “Lost In The Twilight Hall” and “The Last Candle,” really stand out. “Twilight Hall” features a back-and-forth exchange between Kursch and Kai Hansen (Helloween, Gamma Ray) that spans several octaves. “The Last Candle” has the best guitar work here, and everything that was said already about Blind Guardian is at its highest level on this track, with a grand “Guardian of the blind” vocal intro leading the way.

There’s two live staples from Twilight World; “Welcome To Dying” is the heaviest song (although “The Last Candle” may make a claim at that title), and has Hansi’s vocals layered all over the place to great effect. “Lord Of The Rings” is Blind Guardian’s other ballad staple, and even though I believe the version on The Forgotten Tales is better than this one (it’s slower, features more symphonics, and has more Hansi than you can shake a stick at), it fits the overall tone of the album better and is still a solid song in its own right.

“Goodbye My Friend” and “Traveler In Time” are both fine songs; “Goodbye My Friend” is comparable to “Welcome To Dying,” while “Traveler In Time” starts the album off with an acoustic lead that escalates into an almost happy-go-lucky feel to it. The two interludes, “Weird Dreams” and “Altair 4,” are both fun, with the former being an uptempo instrumental and the latter being a followup to the excellent “Tommyknockers.” The edition I have also contains a live bonus performance of “Run For The Night” off of Batallions Of Fear and is simply sublime.

There are just two tiny parts that keep it from being a surefire 5.0* album. The ending of “Weird Dreams” clashes with the calm, acoustic sound of “Lord Of The Rings” and could have used a better transition. And then there’s the ending of “The Last Candle.” I actually love the ending; picture more aggressive shades of “The Prophet’s Song” by Queen, except it’s a Hansi choir (a frequent occurrence on A Night At The Opera). But then, it just suddenly cuts out. I will never understand that. On Memories Of A Time To Come, they remixed it with a functioning ending, but butchered the rest of the song by adding some pointless vocals and taking away the power that makes this version so awesome to begin with. If I had the original version and heard that cutoff, I would’ve probably wondered if my cassette was scrambled. I think a Hansi scream (such as the one on “Punishment Divine,” executed in a similar way to Devin Townsend’s Things Beyond Things“) would have made for an excellent ending.

Overall: There will never be a power metal album better than this one. 

Rating: 4.5*

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