Nightfall in Middle-Earth – 1998
Blind Guardian’s conceptual inclinations reach an apex on Nightfall in Middle-Earth; a thoroughbred concept album from start to finish, telling a portion of the tale of Tolkein’s Silmarillion – middle-earth’s descent into the dark-age, preceding the events of The Hobbit. It is worthwhile to mention that the album antedates the Peter Jackson film-series by three whole years – the Bards were not riding in the wake of the Tolkein-wave of the early 2000s, but instead had helped to create it. Indeed, in a 1999 interview, Hansi intimated that – owing largely to the praise which Nightfall in Middle-Earth had received within the wider Tolkein fandom – there was some serious deliberation as to whether Blind Guardian might be involved in soundtracking the films. While this project would not – alas! – come to pass, Nightfall in Middle-Earth perhaps stands alone as a heavy metal concept-album adaption of Tolkein worthy of attention. The instrumentation, and arrangement around a core of scene-setting spoken samples, make this Blind Guardian’s most ambitious venture yet – both musically and thematically. This is the first album to be recorded entirely at Blind Guardian’s own studio, aptly dubbed the Twilight Hall Studios. It would not be remiss to say that Nightfall in Middle-Earth is an essential, if not the essential, Blind Guardian album.