A perennial benchmark for power metal excellence, Blind Guardian have arguably tested their fans’ patience in recent times. Although plainly an impressive achievement, 2019’s Legacy Of The Dark Lands (billed as Blind Guardian Twilight Orchestra) offered 75 minutes of drumless, guitar-free indulgence that was big, bombastic and ambitious, but also a bit boring.
In stark and rather glorious contrast, The God Machine has clearly been designed to smash naysayers’ faces in, while reminding the faithful that no one can touch this band when they’re on top form. Seven years on from the last ‘proper’ Blind Guardian album, Beyond The Red Mirror, Hansi Kürsch and his comrades have located a generous supply of the elixir of youth and have each chugged a few pints of it. Their 11th album is an outright, spine-shattering triumph as a result.
Free from any conceptual trappings, …Machine keeps it straightforward and startlingly brutal. These are all ornate and explosive heavy metal anthems – some with overtly progressive leanings and an abundance of drama and dynamics, some with a simple agenda of crushing skulls and exposing everyone else as lightweights. With Hansi’s trademark vocal harmonies sounding more powerful than ever, this also feels like a purposeful restating of musical values.
The opening brace of Deliver Us From Evil and Damnation is hewn from the same raw materials that birthed 1992’s seminal Somewhere Far Beyond, but BG have never punched with this much power before. Even more progressive moments like the Neil Gaiman-inspired Secrets Of The American Gods have sharp edges and dark intentions, while Blood Of The Elves is a shiny speed metal sledgehammer, wielded by European metal’s most skilled assassins. The best Blind Guardian album since Imaginations From The Other Side.