Blind Guardian – Beyond The Red Mirror

Blind Guardian
Beyond The Red Mirror
Release: 30th January 2015
Symphonic progressive metal
Released via Nuclear Blast records

Blind Guardian - Beyond The Red Mirror

I really have to be in the right mood for music centred on specific themes throughout a band’s career. Battle, pirate and fantasy focussed discographies don’t feature highly on my radar, and those that do lose out to more varied catalogues. However, it’s the same as any other genre (or sub-genre) on the go: if it’s done well, it’s done well. Few could argue that Blind Guardian imitators rather than progenitors of their own bombastic soundscapes, but in all honesty, I half lost track of them after the turn of the century.

Beyond The Red Mirror is massively produced to great effect, and displays a new stage of development in Blind Guardian’s sound. Much like A Twist In The Myth and At The Edge Of Time (incidentally, one of the track titles), this new offering is equal parts Iron Maiden, Wagner and Pirates Of The Caribbean, although it has stripped away yet more of the speed metal element that had been at least partially retained from their early incarnation. It favours, instead, bombastic moments which would put Heavy Devy’s most overblown tongue in cheek moments to shame.

There are still plenty of thrashier sections throughout, particularly from the album’s mid-way track Ashes Of Eternity onward, but equally, a surprising industrial edge is brought to bear in songs such as ludicrously epic opener The Ninth Wave, and it’s a good thing! If nothing else, Blind Guardian have always had their own sound, and these changes appear to have further exemplified this. The old dogs have learned new tricks, indeed.

Penultimate number, Miracle Machine, is one of the most genuinely old fashioned pieces I have heard in a crow’s age, harking back to the golden age of hard rock. Strongly reminiscent of Queen (seemingly a major influence on Blind Guardian), it stands alone as a truly intelligent musical interlude between the riffing and heavy orchestral power of the rest of the album.

The whole release has a far more upbeat, positive atmosphere than I was expecting. It lends the affair a very heroic bent, leaning away from the darkness of previous releases. It’s hard not to feel lifted while giving this platter its day in court, and as much as it’s not going to make my top ten, it is both accessible and powerful, and for that reason alone, it is definitely worthy of repeat listenings. If power metal and its ilk is your game, this may well make it into your memorable releases of 2015. Personally, while it’s a good release, I’ll hold my breath a while longer.

3 / 5

Paul Macmillan

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