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Blind Guardian- Follow the Blind (Album Review)

Updated on July 17, 2012
The cool artwork for Follow the Blind.
The cool artwork for Follow the Blind. | Source

Introduction

Artist: Blind Guardian

Album: Follow the Blind

Year: 1989

Score: 8.5/10

Before Blind Guardian became the undisputed masters of epic power metal, they were a fairly raw speed metal band similar to early Helloween. Even at this early point in their career, Blind Guardian was already a great band. They knew how to write excellent riffs and solos, and even the catchy choruses that the band is so well known for. However, Follow the Blind is the worst of their earlier albums. The songwriting isn’t quite as good, and most of the songs fall into the trap of being too long for their own good. Still, it’s a nice thing to listen to… and the musicianship is astounding for the amount of time that the band had existed.

The song "Hall of the King".

The Instrumentation

The vocalist and the guitarists are the most notable performers. Hansi Kursch is a fantastic metal vocalist; what he lacks in range he makes up for in the tone and versatility of his voice. On Follow the Blind, it’s obvious that he hasn’t realized his full vocal potential yet. However, he has a raspier and more aggressive tone than on the later albums of Blind Guardian and it suits this music much better. Aside from the vocals, the guitars are the best element of the album. André and Marcus pump out a slew of breakneck riffs, not unlike those on Metallica’s debut or Helloween’s Walls of Jericho. There are also memorable leads scattered throughout the tracks, and a few brief acoustic guitar portions (the end of “Valhalla” and the beginning of “Follow the Blind”). Finally, the guitar solos are just awesome. Most of them are fast in nature, but they are all memorable and fun to listen to. The drums and bass are both decent, but they don’t really drive the music- and they’re not as impressive as the guitars and vocals.

The song "Fast to Madness".

The Sound

What I really like about Follow the Blind is how it mixes thrash metal with the new (at the time) power metal style. Like I mentioned before, the riffs are quite heavy but the leads are very melodic. The vocals are sometimes rather melodic and harmonize in some places, such as in the song “Banish from Sanctuary”. This mix of sounds is the album’s greatest strength and is what ultimately makes the album memorable. This is way heavier than what Helloween and Stratovarius were doing at the time, and it’s honestly more interesting than what those bands were doing in 1989.

The song "Valhalla"- the best from the album and one of the greatest songs ever made.

The Songs

“Valhalla” is the obvious highlight for many, including myself. It might be the most power metal-ish track on the album, and even features Kai Hansen singing some of the vocal lines. Seriously, though…“Valhalla” is one of the best metal songs ever made. “Banish from Sanctuary”, the first real song on the album, is awesome too- very catchy and melodic with fantastic vocals. “Follow the Blind” experiments with some acoustic guitar at the beginning- but that’s just the tip of the iceberg with what the song has to offer. The guitar solo is fantastic, and the whole thing rivals “Valhalla” as the greatest song on the album. “Hall of the King” is a rapidly paced song with another great solo- it grew on me after multiple listens to the album. “Fast to Madness” is similar in pace and has a great shout-a-long chorus that’s almost thrash-like in execution. “Beyond the Ice” is a speedy instrumental, and is actually more enjoyable than some of the other songs. The only flaw in the songs is that some of them end up being a little too long, “Fast to Madness” and “Follow the Blind” being the most notable two (although both are still definite highlights of the album).

The song "Follow the Blind".

In Conclusion...

Even though every song is at least decent, Follow the Blind is one of the weakest Blind Guardian albums. Some of the songs are overlong, while others just simply aren’t up to par with the rest of the band’s work. For this reason, I would not recommend Follow the Blind to new fans of Blind Guardian. I would suggest starting with Nightfall in Middle Earth or Somewhere Far Beyond and then begin checking out the band’s earlier discography. However, anyone who hasn’t heard “Valhalla” should go listen to it immediately after finishing this review. I really love the sound that the band has on this album, but the execution is not quite as good as on their debut or their later albums. The songs aren’t quite as well written and, as mentioned previously, many are overlong. Follow the Blind is one of the weakest Blind Guardian albums, but it still deserves recognition. I recommend it to seasoned fans of Blind Guardian and fans of 80s speed metal.

Best songs: “Valhalla”, “Hall of the King”, “Fast to Madness” and “Follow the Blind”.

Which album do you prefer: Follow the Blind or Battalions of Fear?

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