"At The Edge of Time"

By Dr. Abner Mality

Blind Guardian is such a polarizing "love 'em or hate 'em" band that it's tough to review them with objectivity. I'm going to give it a shot. I went back and read the review I did for "A Twist In the Myth", to make sure I avoid repeating myself. Sure enough, that review contains a lot of what I felt like saying this time around as well.

"At The Edge of Time" is kind of a "smorgasbord" album for Blind's one where they are obviously trying to display all their facets and songwriting styles in one location. Well, they succeed with flying colors at doing that. The record opens with its most symphonic, bombastic and pompous number, "Sacred Worlds", almost as if they wanted to get it out of the way first. This near 10 minute opus makes generous use of a real orchestra...a first for the band, which contented themselves with synthesizers before. Exhausting and cinematic is the best way to describe this mini metal opera. Almost to atone, "Tanelorn" (Into the Void) is a stirring and relatively stripped down piece of speed metal and one of the best numbers. We also get a typical Blind Guardian medieval ballad ("Curse My Name") that had me ready to put on green hose and dance around the Maypole. This diversity continues throughout the album, with tremendous soaring anthems such as "Valkyries" and "Control The Divine", a grandiose piano piece in "War of the Thrones" and typical BG power metal tunes like "A Voice In the Dark" and "Ride Into Obsession". The album ends with another symphonic epic "Wheel Of Time", where the classical instrumentation has a very Middle Eastern tone.

Through it all, we get the titanic vocal exhortations of Hansi Kursch and the precision performance of the rest of the band. Blind Guardian remains its own entity on "At The Edge of Time", sticking to its proven formula and defying anybody who dislikes their unique style. I find it all pretty exhausting, but have plenty of admiration for the guys, who don't know the meaning of the word "compromise"