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Blind Guardian- Battalions of Fear (Album Review)
Artist: Blind Guardian
Album: Battalions of Fear
Battalions of Fear is probably the Blind Guardian album that is most fun to listen to. Instead of the power metal that the band would later be known for, this is a raw speed metal album slightly heavier than the other great German bands of the time. It’s consistently awesome throughout and surprisingly good considering it was the band’s debut. It’s also a lot better than the band’s sophomore album.
The song "Guardian of the Blind".
Like so many Blind Guardian albums, the vocals and the guitars are the best elements. Hansi Kursch sounds great on Battalions of Fear. His range isn’t fully utilized here, but he’s got a good voice for the thrash metal influenced side of this release. The guitars are also great. They’re actually a bit less thrashy than on the band’s sophomore album, Follow the Blind. Here, the leads are extremely melodic as are the solos. Songs like “Majesty” and “Run for the Night” make this readily apparent, while songs like “Wizard’s Crown” are built more on blindingly fast rhythm guitar work. The drummer is another notable performer, as he does a nice job. “Guardian of the Blind” is the obvious track that displays this, with a memorable intro played entirely on the drums. The bass is the weakest link, but Battalions of Fear is not an album that needs flashy bass-work.
The song "Run for the Night".
The sound on Battalions of Fear is not a difficult one to describe. It’s kind of like combining the genres of power and thrash metal. In other words, Battalions of Fear is a showcase of unusually melodic thrash metal. There’s quite a bit of lead guitar work in the songs. The rhythm guitar is also just a little more melodic than say Kreator or Slayer for example. If this were a thrash album, the vocals would also be highly melodic for the genre. All of this being said, the album is not fully power metal either. Even at the time the album was released (1988) there were already other albums that embraced the power metal style more than this one.
The song "Wizard's Crown"- one of my favorites.
The album kicks off with the amazing “Majesty”, a song completely deserving its name. Oddly, this was one of the first Blind Guardian songs I ever heard. I liked it pretty much instantly, as it seemed to be simply a more melodic take on thrash metal. It’s one of the catchiest on the album. “Guardian of the Blind” starts with an incredible drum intro. It’s a great song filled with many cool riffs and vocal passages. It too is one of the catchier songs. “Trial by the Archon” is a brief instrumental- it’s cool, but not what I would call a standout- there’s an obvious Iron Maiden influence. “Wizard’s Crown” is one of the hidden gems on the album. As far as I know, it was never a popular song by the band. However, it is wholly fantastic and a definite highlight of the album. “Wizard’s Crown”, in particular, has a very noticeable thrash metal influence. “Run for the Night” is similar to “Wizard’s Crown”, and just as good. There’s a lot of thrash in this track, as well. However, the chorus is far more melodic and closer to power metal. “Battalions of Fear” is the last non-instrumental song on the album, and it’s also very good. “By the Gates of Moria” finishes the album off in style. It’s an instrumental that’s definitely better than “Trial by the Archon”, but still not as good as songs like “Wizard’s Crown” or “Majesty”. Even so, there are lots of good guitar riffs in the song and it’s a good closer. Most versions come with another instrumental at the end called “Gandalf’s Rebirth”, a fantastic display of guitar and bass shredding that’s actually better than the other two instrumentals.
The song "Majesty", one of the most famous from the album.
Was Blind Guardian always such a great band? Yes, Blind Guardian was always an awesome band. This debut album is proof of that. Every song from Battalions of Fear is a catchy display of what the band was doing at the time. I can’t say it’s their best work, but it is amongst the best albums in their discography. It’s certainly way better than Follow the Blind, which seems forced and sloppy by comparison. I can’t say that Battalions of Fear is great for those just getting into Blind Guardian, but anyone who is already a fan should give this one a chance. It may also appeal to thrash or speed metal fans, as it sounds quite a bit like those genres. Battalions of Fear is an excellent album, worthy of the band that created it.
Best songs: “Majesty”, “Guardian of the Blind”, “Wizard’s Crown”, “Run for the Night”, and “Battalions of Fear”.