The editor thinks it’s hilarious to let me interview Hansi Kursch without a copy of the album to hand. To counter this bold managerial move, my initial review of ATEoT was simply “LOL HOBBITS LOL” but after being threatened with a pointy stick, I apparently have to do a proper one or stay in at lunchtime for a week.
Straight off with things, we’re greeted with a song we already know. Sacred Worlds is an extended, updated and orchestrated edit of Sacred, released last year at some point. As we know, it’s a big pile of happy power metal, and sets the tone for the entire record. ATEoT is an amalgamation of styles that Blind Guardian have used throughout their career. So, if the huge bombast of A Night At The Opera pissed you off, it’s excellently counterbalanced by the Follow The Blind thrash-ness. The lead single Voice In The Dark is surprisingly low down the track list, sandwiched between a song that’s mostly piano and a the nine minute epic of an album closer, especially considering that a band who’d made a worse album than ATEoT would have put it as the opener to lure the listener in to the whole thing.
Curse My Name is the obligatory folk song, but venturing to territory anew as it’s a full band affair, unlike Bard’s Song or Past & Future Secret. Urgent folk instruments, the slight electric guitar melodies and, of course, a massive drunken chorus. ATEoT is perhaps the most diverse album Blind Guardian have produced to date, Road Of No Release providing in no particular order, piano, a classical groove on guitar, and huge massive thrash in the finale. To be succinct, there’s something here for everyone, regardless of which Blind Guardian is their favourite. It’ll give you a hard on if you’re a fantasy novel buff too, especially Robert Jordan with the imaginatively titled Wheel of Time.
Despite Andre Olbrich still not being told that a Blind Guardian album doesn’t mean a one hour guitar solo, ATEoT is an incredibly strong offering from a band who have yet to make a sub par album in their twenty five year career. And honestly, how many bands can you say that about?