Blind Guardian had a very difficult task on their hands when they found themselves having to follow up the successful Imaginations From The Other Side album, but in 1998 they released their seminal classic sixth full-length studio album Nightfall in Middle Earth – a monstrously good album full of charm, eccentricity and an absolute ton of brilliant music.
Nightfall’ is a concept album based on Tolkien’s book The Silmarillion (which is a logical move from the band who wrote ‘Lord Of The Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit’). The concept adds an extra layer of interest to things. It is filled with spoken dialogue and sound effects in between the true songs to get you in the mood – It could seem a bit gimmicky to some listeners but it fits very naturally with the band’s style. It also sees the band move even further in the Progressive direction, with very clear and obvious Gentle Giant influences not only in the vocal department but also in some of the arrangements.
That’s not to say that it abandons the band’s trademark Euro-Melodic-Power Metal meets Bay Area Thrash mix, it is still full of fun quick guitar leads, crushing Thrashy riffs and everything else that made the band work up until this point, just further mixing in the elements they’d been hinting at more and more with each passing album. The real thing that hits you about the album, regardless of what style it is in, or what speed the band are playing, is the sheer amount of catchy parts and memorable tunes. This is stuff that sticks in your head for a long time.
Highlights include “Time Stands Still (At the Iron Hill),” “Mirror Mirror” and “Nightfall.” This is some seriously memorable, catchy, enjoyable Metal. Check those songs out if you want to try something before you commit.
Overall; There’s a lot of song writing depth, there’s plenty of bite and edge to the music, there’s a near endless supply of catchy choruses. This is one of the subgenre’s finest records, one of the band’s finest records and one of the best Metal records of its entire decade. Its must-own stuff for sure, and I’d highly recommend checking it out if you haven’t yet.