Sunday, November 11, 2007

Heavy metal fantasy: The wonderful music of Blind Guardian

As a life-long heavy metal fan who writes a blog that celebrates all things fantastic, it was only a matter of time before I got to the subject of Blind Guardian. About all you need to know about this wonderful, semi-obscure German metal band is that they wrote an entire album about J.R.R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion ("Nightfall in Middle Earth").

Need I say more? I mean, look at the picture I've embedded--that's a Blind Guardian album cover, and it looks like it could have been plucked off the cover of a Robert Jordan novel.

I've always been drawn to heavy metal for its power and grandeur. Narrowing that down further, I prefer bands with a clean, epic sound and soaring vocals. Even more specifically, I prefer those metal bands whose subject matter covers the fantastic, be it dark magic and the occult (Black Sabbath), medieval/ancient history (Iron Maiden), or sci-fi (Judas Priest and The Sentinel, Electric Eye, etc).

Blind Guardian fulfills all those requirements. To get an idea of what they like to sing about, all you need to do is view some of their song titles, of which I've included several in the below list. Note that Blind Guardian doesn't just make oblique or occasional references to Tolkien, King Arthur, Dragonlance, etc., like other bands have done (Led Zeppelin's mentions of "The Dark Lord" and "Gollum" from Ramble On spring to mind), they write songs--nay, entire albums--about fantasy, without a hint of satire:

  • The soulforged

  • Born in a mourning hall

  • Lord of the Rings

  • Mordred's song

  • Skalds and shadows

  • The Bard's song

  • The curse of Feanor

  • Noldor

  • By the Gates of Moria

  • Gandalf's rebirth

  • A past and future secret

  • Valhalla

I'm not making this stuff up, folks. These guys are hard-core fantasy fans. Their music may as well be the soundtrack of a Dungeons and Dragons game. In fact, I've seriously considered incorporating some of their lyrics/subject matter into that D&D campaign I'm hoping to someday get off the ground.

In a lesser band's hands, the combination of long hair, electric guitars, and some German dude yelling "Mordor--dark land under Sauron's spell" could be embarrassing. But Blind Guardian is able to pull off this material successfully and with a straight face because a) They're passionate and obviously well-versed in the material; and b) They're damned talented.

Don't believe me? Check out this clip of one of their acoustic numbers, "The Bard's Song," from Youtube. I don't think you'll be disappointed:

The bard's songs do indeed remain alive and well in the capable hands of Blind Guardian.

To read more about Blind Guardian, go to their Web site: