After 30-plus years on the power metal front lines, Blind Guardian remain as ambitious as ever. The God Machine, the German band’s twelfth studio album, is a characteristically dramatic collision of Teutonic pomp, trad-metal heft and singer/ mastermind Hansi Kürsch’s klaxon-in-a-wind-tunnel vocals.
But there’s a complexity to this album that sets Blind Guardian apart from most Euro metal cheesemongers. When it shoots for the epic, as on the Neil Gaiman-inspired The Secrets Of The American Gods, Kürsch throws in enough twists and clever sonic detail to avoid raise-your-flagons-high bombast.
Still, there’s nothing here to scare the horses – the kick-drum barrage of Blood Of The Elves could be the soundtrack to a hi-octane Dungeons & Dragons campaign.
There are apparently some concessions to real life here – Kürsch has talked about the album tapping into themes of paranoia, bereavement and modern-day witch hunts – but they’re buried deep. Then again, no one is coming to Blind Guardian for a shot of reality.