Blind Guardian are one of the most prominent power metal bands in the world. The German group’s latest album Legacy of the Dark Lands strips away the metal elements in favor of a full orchestra, hence the band name bestowed upon this record, Blind Guardian Twilight Orchestra.
Legacy of the Dark Lands is not something the band hatched overnight; singer Hansi Kürsch and guitarist André Olbrich have been working on it for 21 years. Kürsch and Olbrich worked with German bestselling author Markus Heitz to develop the lyrical concept. Heitz’s latest novel Die dunklen Lande contains the prequel to Legacy of the Dark Lands.
Kürsch is the only member who appears on the album, but this is a Blind Guardian album, through and through. Sure, one won’t hear speedy guitar licks; however, the inclusion of a symphony makes this recording one of the grandest and most epic affairs in the Blind Guardian catalog.
It also expresses feelings and dynamics not heard through the primary use of guitars, drums and bass. Kürsch possesses one of the strongest voices in rock music, which blends perfectly with the tempo and volume of the recording. The album is split up into songs and narrations. It works like a musical or a play. The narrative seems to set up each song.
Legacy of the Dark Lands features epic vociferations and orchestrations, which instill a heaviness metal fans will look for. These over-the-top sentiments are carefully built, too. “War Feeds War” begins faintly until the kettle drums drop heavy bombs and even further build to chorus lines outlined by military drumming and big brass notes.
As implied in its title, “In the Underworld,” is one of the darkest tracks. The violins catch speed and lend this track an undeniable intensity. “Harvester of Souls” expresses similar intensity with swelling violins and booming brass and drums. There is even a hint of xylophone, which can is also audible at the beginning of “Point of No Return.” This unassuming start becomes so massive with horns and choral arraignments. “The Great Ordeal” contains a British, regal quality. It’s very light at first, but like much of the compositions, finds an epic crescendo.
Kürsch and Olbrich achieved a great accomplishment with Legacy of the Dark Lands. Some fans, especially those of early days, will lament their having no guitars. Also, Nightfall in Middle Earth still seems to be the consensus favorite. Still, Legacy of the Dark Lands will forever stand out as their symphonic album. Being such a massive undertaking of such great time lengths to construct, it might be the only one in their discography. Heavy, bombastic, intricate, dynamic and oh so epic, this album deserves to be heard in a movie.
(released November 8, 2019 on Nuclear Blast)
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Listen To Blind Guardian Twilight Orchestra – “Point Of No Return”