As I realize that summer will soon be giving way to fall, I start to become more excited about October 31 this year. And no, it isn’t just because of Halloween. As much as I do enjoy dressing in ridiculous attire and getting stupid drunk, that particular date holds so much more value this year. That’s because Halloween 2015 will mark the first time I’ll be experiencing a Blind Guardian performance in person. It’s been a long time coming. Naturally, I’ve started to go back and explore the vast reaches of their discography. And in that time, the band’s eighth album, A Twist in the Myth, has emerged as a bit of an unsung hero in my collection.
The German power metal heroes released their eighth studio album in September 2006, meaning this thing turns 10 next year. And that just blows my mind. I very distinctly remember picking this album up on its release date. I was just starting my senior year of high school, and I remember picking this up the day it came out and blasting it with the windows down in my shit-piece 1986 Peugeot 505 GL to and from school everyday for weeks. I freaking loved this album. It was an addiction. But, as quickly as it came, it fell off my radar for a number of years after high school. But it’s found its way back onto my classic power metal radar screen — and not just because I like to reminisce.
To many people, A Twist in the Myth may not be one of the stronger Blind Guardian albums. It’s not as interesting as some of the more conceptual work on 1998’s Nightfall in Middle-Earth or even Beyond the Red Mirror from earlier this year. And it certainly doesn’t have the fascinatingly dark atmosphere of 1995’s Imaginations from the Other Side. But even not being “one of the stronger Blind Guardian albums” doesn’t prevent it from being extremely impressive. A sub-par Blind Guardian effort still tops 90% of everything else out there. That much has been proven over the decades these guys have been at it. Looking at it from that perspective, there’s more than enough to enjoy here.
Track by track, there are few weak points, and each song has its own take on Blind Guardian’s brand of power metal. Cheesy at times, but epic throughout, you simply can’t come out of this without enjoying a significant portion of it. The majority of the album is extremely upbeat and battle-ready. From the opening stages of “This Will Never End,” we are given an image of power, fantasy, and imagination that forms the backbone throughout. The uplifting nature of “Turn the Page,” “Fly,” and “Straight Through the Mirror” supplement the heavy percussive cadence of “Lionheart” and “The Edge” — two tracks that play more like marching war-chants. And if that becomes a little too much for you, they take us in a completely different direction with the whimsical, medieval sounding ballads, “Skalds and Shadows” and “Carry the Blessed Home.” It’s all presented with a massively produced, crystal-clear sound that completely surrounds you in energy, all topped off with Hansi Kürsch impressively covering the entire vocal spectrum as always. It’s a big, powerful piece of music.
I’ve come to love A Twist in the Myth over the years. Despite flying under the radar for some time, the level of enjoyment I get from this fantastically mystical record is undeniable. The sound is perfect; all instrumental and vocal elements are pronounced and distinctive, and create a musical environment as fantastic as the content found in the lyrics. All of these factors come together to form an album that, from start to finish, is simply one quality moment after another. It may not be everyone’s favorite Blind Guardian album, but it’s certainly earned its place in the band’s illustrious discography.
“Ein Bier… bitte.”