Tag Archives: blind guardian

Rhapsody of Fire – The Frozen Tears of Angels [Review]

Rhapsody of Fire are a band who have not missed a beat since releasing their first album back in 1997, and The Frozen Tears of Angels is no different. Released April 30, 2010 via Nuclear Blast, it is the band’s eighth full-length album.

Rhapsody the Frozen Tears of Angels

Rhapsody of Fire have had an incredibly consistent and productive career over the last thirteen years, even still The Frozen Tears of Angels is certainly their best release in a decade. Technically the third installment of the The Dark Secret Saga (which started with Symphony of Enchanted Lands II: The Dark Secret, which still doesn’t make sense to me). This time however, the album is fueled more by riffs than big orchestral parts, something a lot different than their two previous albums. It also once again features the legendary Christopher Lee doing narration, a welcome addition to any epic power metal album.

Where this album shines, however, is in the production and mastering. All of the guitar tones are incredible, and mesh really well with the orchestral parts. Though the orchestral parts are heavily compressed sometimes, it never becomes overwhelmingly so. I strongly prefer the production on this album to Triumph or Agony, as having the 70-piece chorus/orchestra play such a prominent role in the mix took away from the “metal” aspect of the album. Triumph or Agony was sometimes overly cluttered, but on The Frozen Tears of Angels everything has ample space to breathe in the mix (you can even clearly hear the bass lines in most songs).

And the riffs, dear God the riffs. They are wonderful. The guitar work on this album is the best that Rhapsody of Fire has ever featured on an album. They’ve made a transition from the Trans-Siberian Orchestra styled guitars from their early albums to more of a pure speed metal style similar to that of Blind Guardian. This is known almost immediately by the fierce beginning of the song “Sea of Fate” – as well as other instances on the album. There isn’t a single bad guitar part of the album, every riff and solo is good and they all fit really well in the grand scheme of things. Even in the song “Labyrinth of Madness” where it’s just guitar wankery for the entire four minutes, it’s still a wonderful closing note for the album.

Track picks: “Reign of Terror” and “Crystal Moonlight”

Overall score: 9 out of 10 wizard staffs

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AOTY Frontrunners

It’s about halfway through the year, and you know what that means – we’ve only got half a year left to get new album of the year candidates. There have been some surprises so far this year, both good and bad. We saw a return to form by a few bands, and a fall from grace from others. Here are the five best albums at the halfway point of the year:

Rhapsody the Frozen Tears of Angels

First up, Rhapsody of Fire with The Frozen Tears of Angels. Known as a band who always puts out solid symphonic power metal albums, it’s hard to really step your game up beyond “really good” after seven albums, but somehow Rhapsody of Fire have found a way to do so. In somewhat stereotypical fashion, the album starts off with an ominously narrated intro track, but then Luca Turilli’s fingers catch fire, and he plays the most furious and blistering guitar riffs I’ve ever heard from Rhapsody of Fire. The rest of the band follow suit, delivering what is easily the band’s best performance since Dawn of Victory.

High on Fire Snakes for the Divine

Next is the latest gem from Matt Pike, High on Fire‘s Snakes for the Divine. A bit of a change from the band’s last release, Death is This Communion, the band has delivered yet another record very much their own style and very obviously a solid record. All of the instruments, including Matt Pike’s voice, are as grimey as ever – but at least now it doesn’t sound like they were recorded in a garage. The problem about the production is that it’s a very acquired, but fitting, taste for the music. The whole album sounds very dense, and there isn’t much breathing room between instruments. Snakes for the Divine definitely shows more of Matt Pike’s influence from his days in Sleep, most notably in the slower sludge sections of “Bastard Samurai.”

Overkill Ironbound

Third we have an album that is a godsend in the modern thrash times, a return to form of one of the oldest thrash bands still around, Overkill‘s Ironbound. In recent years, Overkill had put out a number of mediocre thrash albums, and many fans were ready to put them out to pasture. Overkill have definitely quieted the critics with what is their best album in nearly two decades. Finally back to being a real thrash band and playing what they know best, Ironbound is a loud, fast, angry, and pure thrash album that is best listened to at ear-splitting volumes while giving yourself voluntary whiplash from headbanging.

White Wizzard Over The Top

There’s a lot to be said about our next album, but most importantly, you should know that it isn’t actually from the 1980’s. White Wizzard‘s Over the Top is often criticized for its obvious Judas Priest and Iron Maiden influences, something that detracts from the talent of the band. It’s not as if White Wizzard are a crappy cover band, they’re just a band that really loves New Wave of British Heavy Metal and do it well, even if they are a couple decades late to the party. How can you argue with a band that writes lyrics like: “You’re gonna make it, you’ve got the fire, flames of your destiny, burning with desire. You’ve got the dreams, you’re burning higher. On wings wings of steel you fly to heights that will inspire!” (taken from “Over The Top”)?

Fear Factory Mechanize

The fifth album on this list is from a band I thought had thrown in the towel a few years ago, but have returned to deliver the best album of their entire career. Perhaps it’s just the “Gene Hoglan gene” that makes any band with him on drums sound awesome, but either way, it sure is nice to know that Fear Factory‘s Mechanize is a killer album. It takes the old school aggressive and raw sound of Fear Factory combined with the newer sound from albums like Archetype with big drawn-out clean vocal sections. If you ever heard Fear Factory and though “Hey, this isn’t too bad” you will most likely love Mechanize, as it takes everything Fear Factory ever did right, and steps it up a notch.

Surprisingly, there were some great metal bands that put out unenthusiastic and sub-par albums this year, including Arsis, Gamma Ray, and Heaven Shall Burn. The second half of 2010 looks quite promising with new albums from Blind Guardian, Whitechapel, The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza, Iron Maiden, and many more all on the horozon.

Blind Guardian – Imaginations from the Other Side [Retrospective]

Number 48 on Metal Storm’s Top 100 Albums, number 19 on RateYourMusic’s top albums of 1995, and one of the best power/speed/heavy metal releases for all time. That’s right, you guessed it (or maybe not), Imaginations from the Other Side by Blind Guardian.

blind guardian imaginations from the other side

Every legendary metal band from years past have one album that seems to epitomize and embody that band entirely. Perhaps the most prominent example of this would be Black Sabbath’s Paranoid. For Blind Guardian, Imaginations from the Other Side is undoubtably the album that epitomizes them.

In a year in which the Gothenburg sound was bursting on the scene and seemingly taking over, Blind Guardian (along with Iced Earth and Gamma Ray) delivered their greatest albums. For Iced Earth and Gamma Ray, it’s more debatable, but Imaginations from the Other Side really is Blind Guardian’s magnum opus. Hansi Kürsch delivers his best performance of his career on this album (even including his work in Demons and Wizards). The lyrics are incredible, and take the listener on a grand adventure. Beyond that, he pushes the boundary to the extreme with his vocal power and presence. The heat on his voice throughout this album is simply incredible. André Olbrich is on his game in this effort as well. While he may not be the fastest or best guitarist around, his creativity and writing for the guitar parts is on par with the best in metal – ever. Somehow André found a way to stay true to what power metal guitars were supposed to sound like, but still write something that was not like everything else out there. His solos on the album are absolutely perfect. They are not simply sweeping, blistering solos. They have feeling and emotion, which all guitar solos ideally should have.

Now that I’ve established that the album was near perfect in terms of writing, I want to comment on the production of the album. With such a huge vocalist in power metal, it’s a feat to have everyone in check, and no one getting snubbed for the spotlight. Power metal is somewhat notorious for this, allowing the vocalist to overshadow everyone during the more powerful vocal parts – this only happens where appropriate (and written) for the vocalist to be overshadowing everyone. Aside from the balance of the different elements on this album, the sound of the “choir” (the gang vocals) is the best I have ever heard for a power metal album I have ever heard.

From top to bottom, this album is a masterpiece. It capitalizes on every element necessary for a power metal album, and then some. Full of big vocals, fast guitars, pounding drums, and an epic story line – this is easily one of the most quintessential metal albums of all time.

Track picks: Don’t be a fool. On an album this good, every track needs to be listened to. I will say, though, that the two singles from the album were “Imaginations from the Other Side” and “Bright Eyes”

Overall score: 11/10 Devil horns

I hunger for… POWER METAL!!! (see also: Heavy Metal)

Heavy Metal, Power Metal, Fantasy Metal – they’re all a lot alike. Sometimes, you just want it, whether you admit it or not (it’s merely a guilty pleasure for some). Not I!

So, we have all been there – we know what style of music we want, but can’t seem to find just the right band to quench that thirst. Hell, maybe you can – that doesn’t mean you should check this stuff out anyway.

Here’s a list of five power metal and heavy metal albums that I’ve been listening to lately that have tickled my fancy, and could potentially do the same for you.

5. March of the Saint by Armored Saint

Armored Saint March of the Saint

Pretty great Heavy Metal album with some power metal style and influence. Almost always hits the spot.

4. Follow the Blind by Blind Guardian

Blind Guardian Follow the Blind

A great Heavy metal album with, again, power metal influences. Blind Guardian is a pretty famous band, also pretty legendary. This is a must have for any metalhead’s collection.

3. Framing Armageddon: Something Wicked Part 1 by Iced Earth

Iced Earth Framing Armageddon

This is a great power metal album from start to finish. Part one of a two-part theme album speaking of an imaginary people who go through great struggles, wars, etc. Standard power metal topics, though not as fantasy-driven as many.

2. Triumph or Agony by Rhapsody of Fire

Rhapsody of Fire Triumph or Agony

This is your quintessential fantasy-ridden, Dungeons & Dragons-playing, Tolkien-styled, power metal album. Now, there’s a lot of material on this album that just doesn’t cut it as metal, but it’s a great album that falls right in line with a lot of power metal.

1. Chapter V: Unbent, Unbowed, Unbroken by HammerFall

Hammerfall Chapter V

In terms of heavy metal and power metal, it all comes together on this album. Wailing, shredding, speed, pounding drums – all great. This one is a great recommendation, and you can’t go wrong with anything else HammerFall has put out.

So there it is. I hope you might like at least one of these suggestions. They sure hit the spot for me!