• Epic orchestral music with skilled vocals - A review of Blind Guardian's Twilight Orchestra: Legacy of the Dark Lands

    Blind Guardian - Twilight Orchestra: Legacy of the Dark Lands (2019)

    Blind Guardian's Twilight Orchestra: Legacy of the Dark Lands has been two decades in the making. It has taken lots of patience, determination and courage to finally bring this project to life. The record is bound to be controversially received. This isn't a metal album at all but an entirely orchestral record with lead vocals by Hansi Kürsch. There are no keyboards, electric guitars or bass guitars to be found on this album at all. The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra has performed all instruments and backing choirs and the only elements that link this release to other Blind Guardian outputs are the lead vocals, the imaginative lyrics and the splendid cover artwork and booklet. One has to wonder whether this record has been released under the Blind Guardian banner for marketing reasons alone.

    More than seventy-five minutes of orchestral music might not be everybody's cup of tea. The only remotely comparable record by a metal band is Therion's Beloved Antichrist released last year. Whether you like it or not, this album is a revolution for the metal genre since something as radical as this has never been attempted before.

    There are a lot of things to be liked here if you like fantasy novels and medieval themes, classical and orchestral music as well as audio books and radio plays. The narrative interludes give the release its concept and are thoroughly entertaining. The longer tracks tell the story in dramatic, elaborate and epic fashion. The orchestral work is as professional as it gets and varies from smooth and enchanting parts over joyous and playful elements to bombastic and epic outbursts that are stylistically close to the essence of metal music. Hansi Kürsch's vocals blend in splendidly as he performs with lots of feeling in the slower parts, mid-paced sections and few energetic passages. This record has the potential to become the soundtrack to a musical that would certainly attract open-minded metal fans and more wealthy, sophisticated and intellectual audiences alike.

    Despite a length of more than seventy-five minutes and twenty-four tracks in total, the record is thoroughly entertaining and dynamic, diversified and creative enough to fascinate with its complex story. The lush production accentuates the stunning orchestral performances, the epic but moderately employed choirs and the brilliant lead vocals that finally get the occasion to shine without having to compete with bumble bee bass guitar sounds, fast-paced guitar solos and double-bass drum patterns. Despite its unusual style, this album might be the easiest to digest in Blind Guardian's discography in that regard as you won't have to process information overload.

    In the end, Blind Guardian's Twilight Orchestra: Legacy of the Dark Lands should be approached with precaution. You must know that this is a conceptual orchestral record and not a metal or even rock album. If you like classical music, orchestral music and soundtracks with narrative parts, you will certainly appreciate this imaginative output. If those descriptions sound horrendous to you, ignore this album even if you are an avid Blind Guardian fan. This is certainly an acquired taste.

    Rating: 90%

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