Follow The Blind – 1989

Just as Battalions of Fear now concludes with a direct reference to Monty Python, the 1989 sophomore album Follow the Blind opens with one: Inquisition samples the monk’s chant from Monty Python and The Holy Grail (“Pie Jesu Domine, dona eis requiem”) This sets the tone appropriately, for Follow The Blind sees the Bards shifting towards an even more heavily themed and thrash-orientated sound than on Battalions of Fear, apparently brought about by their exposure to U.S. thrash metal royalty, Testament, at the 1987 Dynamo festival. While the Bards’ consider this to be their weakest album as a result of the emphasis falling on musical intensity, fans who also share an affection for this heavier sound are unlikely to depart from Follow the Blind with any disappointment, especially from live staple Banish From Sanctuary and anthemic live sing-along Valhalla, whose studio-take features the stylings of Kai Hansen, of Helloween and Gamma Ray fame. Hansen would lend his talents to the next two Blind Guardian albums too, featuring on the songs ‘Lost in the Twilight Hall’, ‘The Last Candle’ and then‘The Quest for Tanelorn’. Curiously, at the time the Bards were reluctant to include Valhalla on the album, now a fixture and highlight of their live performances; much like Black Sabbath’s hit-single Paranoid, it was written towards the end of the studio session, and was only included to make up the running-time for the album. Revisiting Follow The Blind, dedicated Blind Guardian fans will find the Bard’s first references to fantasy writer Michael Moorcock (“Dammed for All Time” and “Fast To Madness” are based on characters from the Eternal Champion series) and another Stephen King inclusion (title-track “Follow The Blind” is based on the authors collaboration with Peter Straub, The Talisman.) However, listeners of all persuasions will find joy in the closing number, a medley of The Regent’s Barbara Ann and Little Richard’s Long Tall Sally; the very embodiment of the performer’s maxim, “Always leave them laughing.”

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