Tales From The Twilight World – 1990
While Battalions of Fear and Follow The Blind certainly laid the foundations for what would become Blind Guardian’s signature sound, Tales From The Twilight World builds upon this groundwork substantially. Any pretentions the Bards might have had towards being just another speed/thrash metal band, with some classical and high-fantasy themes, are abandoned. This album is the start of what many would consider to be Blind Guardian’s golden-era, and with it perhaps even the genesis of the power metal style. The album’s cover art marks the beginning of a fruitful working relationship with Andreas Marschall, who would create the iconic cover art for the next three studio albums too. In order to record this seminal album, the Bards constructed their own studio to spend more time working on it, and this time was indeed well spent: we can hear them, for the first time, embracing singalong choruses and rich storytelling verses from track-to-track and incorporating acoustic guitars and synthesized instruments in order to reify their world-building efforts. This album is not yet, however, a full-blown concept album – such as we will see later in the Bard’s tale. Rather, the album’s diverse themes treat of Moorcockian characters, Gandalf’s death at the hands of the Balrog, and subsequent reincarnation, and – supposedly – E.T. (“Goodbye my friend, goodbye!”) The lighter-brandishing melodies of fourth track, Lord of the Rings, stand testament to the maturity of song writing which generally permeates this album. Had the Bards ended their journey at Follow The Blind, one might speculate that Blind Guardian would have been no more than a footnote in the grand heavy metal story: Tales From The Twilight World places them at the genesis of true fist-pumping dragon-riding power metal.