Blind Guardian - Legacy of the Dark Lands (2019)
Out Of Tune
There was a lot to be excited about when Blind Guardian announced they were releasing an epic fully orchestral album. With albums like Nightfall In Middle-Earth and especially A Night at the Opera they've shown interest and set themselves up for this kind of release for around 20 years. With how over the top and metal opera-y they've been in the past, performing that bombastic style with a new medium that can handle it was something I was looking forward to.
Sadly Legacy of the Dark Lands doesn't deliver on its promise of a massive Blind Guardian orchestral performance. All the parts are there, with Hansi's vocals sounding as good as ever and the orchestra sawing away at their instruments in the back, but there's just nothing new or exciting here. Each song follows the same Blind Guardian format and doesn't utilize the orchestra's potential in pretty much any song. The verses and slower plucking parts sound hollow and phoned-in, and the swells and climaxes sound horribly mixed and produced, with horns and percussion sounding blown out and very low quality. The plot and spoken word are as laughable as ever which is just a shame considering how much time they had to design and arrange this project.
I really wish they would have realized that writing for an orchestra doesn't follow the same formula as a Symphonic/Power Metal album and took some inspiration from the classics to possibly have this project live up to its potential. For me, there's nothing really to come back for in Legacy of the Dark Lands.
Sometime after my review for the new DragonForce album Extreme Power Metal, I decided to continue my small power metal comeback with a couple new albums from power metal bands I used to enjoy in my epic metal taste. But this wasn't my best choice of bands because both of their new albums didn't have the perfection the new DragonForce album has and they show each band trying a different style. One album has a more hard rock/heavy metal sound, which doesn't make the album fit in with most of the band's previous masterpieces; the other album (this one) is just a long orchestral album that is indeed a great ordeal.
Legacy of the Dark Lands is not the kind of Blind Guardian album heavier listeners expect. It's not an epic power metal masterpiece like Nightfall in Middle Earth, in which that album's success two decades prior might have been what started the band's idea of an orchestral album, and their dream has finally came true. However, it's an underwhelming nightmare for the heavier fans. There's no metal at all. Just singer Hansi Kürsch, the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, and a few actors for the narrations. Would you consider this an orchestral solo project for Kürsch? Yes! No guitars, no bass, no drums, nothing metal.
The songs have the usual Blind Guardian pattern: progressive structure with a few defined chorus and Kürsch's melodic vocals. But it's so strange not hearing any harmonic guitars or rapid bass. While the orchestration is well-composed, it focuses less on captivity and more on atmosphere. There are 5 songs here that I would still give a chance, which I will tell you at the end of the review, but everything else is just... [does a death-growling "BLEH!!" in disgust] But the production though, it sounds great. The orchestra can be heard clearly even when dominated by the vocals. Unfortunately, this blend is too indistinguishable for the heavier listener due to absolute zero interesting guitar riffs that the listener really wants.
Overall, Legacy of the Dark Lands is more forgettable and less forgivable for metalheads. It's almost a total departure of Blind Guardian's 30-year speed/power metal past, and a complete disappointment to metal listeners who have followed the band for many years. I would rather recommend this to fans of epic orchestral music like Two Steps From Hell. By the time Blind Guardian releases a heavy album in a year or two, I would've completely forgotten about power metal. So sad. What an epic fail....
Favorites: "War Feeds War", "Dark Clouds Rising", "The Great Ordeal", "Harvester of Souls", "This Storm"