Society always celebrates the records that top the Billboard 200 album chart. Back of The Billboards is a Music Times weekly segment that looks at the opposite end: the new record that finished closest to the back of the Billboard 200 for the previous week. We hope to give a fighting chance to the bands you haven't heard of. This week we look at Blind Guardian's new LP 'Beyond The Red Mirror,' the sequel to the power metal band's acclaimed 1995 album.
Week of 02/13/2015
WHO: Blind Guardian
WHAT: Beyond The Red Mirror
Blind Guardian has been around for roughly 30 years now, and at no point was it higher than during 1995, when it released the acclaimed Imaginations From The Other Side, a concept album tracing a typical sci-fi/fantasy storyline across two dimensions. Now, 20 years later, the band has returned to the same narrative.
Figuring out whether you'll enjoy the album or not is simple: Do you love power metal? If so, then by all means proceed. Do you hate power metal? Then get out of here (there's rarely a middle ground). Beyond The Red Mirror stretches more than 70 minutes on the full version, more than 20 minutes longer than the last chapter in the saga.
If you enjoy power metal—perhaps the most bombastic display the genre has ever taken on—then you're in luck. These last few decades have apparently padded the German band's coffer, as Guardian brings in three choirs and two orchestras to aid the epic intents of the group. The respective choirs make Hansi Kürsch's elevated approach, common of the subgenre, all the more operatic. As Blind Guardian doesn't noodle quite as much as its cohorts (which isn't saying too much), the orchestras add to the cinematic style.
If the band could have done anything to improve Red Mirror, it would have been to bring the orchestra more to the fore. It might require some more intricate balancing with the band's instrumentals, but the success of Dream Theater in its use of orchestras demonstrates how well it can be done.