Album 0153: Blind Guardian – Nightfall In Middle-Earth

Release Date: 1998
Genre: Power Metal

Tracklisting:

1. War Of Wrath (01:51)
2. Into The Storm (04:25)
3. Lammoth (00:28)
4. Nightfall (05:35)
5. The Minstrel (00:32)
6. The Curse Of Fëanor (05:42)
7. Captured (00:26)
8. Blood Tears (05:23)
9. Mirror Mirror (05:06)
10. Face The Truth (00:24)
11. Noldor (Dead Winter Reigns) (06:52)
12. Battle Of Sudden Flame (00:43)
13. Time Stands Still (At The Iron Hill) (04:54)
14. The Dark Elf (00:23)
15. Thorn (06:18)
16. The Eldar (03:38)
17. Nom The Wise (00:34)
18. When Sorrow Sang (04:26)
19. Out On The Water (00:44)
20. The Stadfast (00:21)
21. A Dark Passage (06:01)
22. Final Chapter (Thus Ends…) (00:51)
23. Nightfall (orchestral version) (05:40)
24. A Dark Passage (instrumental version) (06:06)

Total Length: 01:17:24

War Of Wrath begins the story that is told on this album with sounds of a war and Sauron and Morgoth speaking. The actual songs start with Into The Storm which is a fantastically strong opening song. All sorts of melodies to stick in your head with fantastic vocals by Hansi. This is also when the band began incorporating more keyboards and synths into their heavier songs, to great effect. It adds a good bit of interesting things to hear and fills in their arrangements even more.

Lammoth is the scream of a dark lord, and that’s about it. Nightfall is a great track, the chorus always stands out to me, just pretty much classic Blind Guardian. The Minstrel is a short interlude song, I almost wish it could have been expanded on. The Curse Of Fëanor is entirely a heavy song, and it’s similarly fantastic. I do lose a tiny bit of interest by the end, but no big deal. Captured is another story track, nothing much to say about it. Blood Tears is a bit more of a ballad type song. It still brings in some heavy parts, but it builds up to them very well, and is a great track all around.

No interlude this time, right into another song. Mirror Mirror wouldn’t work half as well if the band hadn’t started using some more synths, and is a perfect example of how great the band became once they evolved a bit more. It still has their old fierceness, but everything is polished to perfection. Face The Truth is an interlude track, but these are short enough I don’t mind listening to them so I can hear the whole album through. Noldor (Dead Winter Reigns) is just entirely pleasant to listen to, I have no issues with it.

Battle Of Sudden Flame is basically an intro to how great the next song is. Time Stands Still (At The Iron Hill) is big and amazing and I love every second of it. This was the first album by the band I listened to, and I had no clue what I was getting myself into. The opening song and this track are what convinced me that I needed all the Blind Guardian I could get my hands on, immediately. The Dark Elf is a short interlude as well, just a nice breather between these two tracks I suppose.

Thorn starts off heavy as crap before transitioning into a nice acoustic section. This song goes every which direction, even bringing in a nice piano moment. Very cool track. The Eldar is an incredibly somber track, utilizing only piano and Hansi’s voice. I love it though and feel that it really gets overlooked whenever anyone discusses this album. Nom The Wise continues the downtrodden feeling in this interlude. When Sorrow Sang kicks thing back up a notch though. I sometimes forget this song exists, but it’s not bad at all.

Out On The Water is a pretty nice interlude, I do really enjoy the ones with music. The Steadfast is another story track, but it’s remarkably short at least. A Dark Passage is the most Queen-like song on here, though sometimes I feel a bit disappointed because it honestly doesn’t go enough over the top. It gets up there, but doesn’t quite leap over the pole. Still great though. Final Chapter (Thus Ends…) is story-related, and so I don’t entirely care.

Both Nightfall and A Dark Passage are essentially instrumental versions, with all the backing tracks remaining (including backing vocals), basically just stripping out the lead vocals. This makes them neat to listen to if you wanted to hear certain bits, but since Hansi’s backing vocals are so layered there is still a huge amount of vocals on these two tracks, which is honestly kind of annoying. It’s not one way or the other, it’s in the middle which makes listening to them feel like you’re almost hitting a certain point and cannot quite get there. This album is insanely good though, even if I may personally prefer some other Blind Guardian albums. You are doing yourself a disservice if you haven’t heard it.

Final Rating: 9.5/10

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