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Blind Guardian - A Twist In The Myth CD (album) cover


Blind Guardian


Progressive Metal

3.10 | 112 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
4 stars 'A Twist in the Myth' - Blind Guardian (79/100)

Whenever a press kit describes a band 'stripping down' their sound or, worse still, 'returning to their roots' on a new album, a part of me wants to hurl. The other part of me has been trained, time and again, to dismiss this claim as a euphemism for the stage in a band's career where they admit they've gone as far as they can go with their ambitions with the album prior. Metallica's infamously accessible Black Album is the first example that comes to mind; I'm sure you can think of many more.

Well, leave it to a band as consistently stunning as Blind Guardian to demonstrate how streamlining a sound can still result in freshly exciting material. Their seventh LP A Night at the Opera still stands as the most ornate, ambitious and ridiculously complex power metal album I have ever heard. Blind Guardian did everything they could to saturate each moment of the album with as much arrangement and detail as possible, and as far as I'm concerned, the effort paid off magnificently. As much as I think A Night at the Opera to be their magnum opus, there wasn't room for surpassing nor repeating it. Think of A Twist in the Myth as Blind Guardian's very own Going for the One; after pushing themselves as far as they could go, they managed to successfully reel themselves back in, all the while covering new territory as they went along. This is Blind Guardian at their most catchy and song-based, and the rare restraint they pulled off here resulted in some powerfully written and delivered material.

It really does make me wonder why A Twist in the Myth tends to get overlooked in favour of its more ambitious neighbours. It was the first album in their history that dared to diverge from the upward trajectory their career had taken for over two decades. It may have been a forced moved considering how exhausted the band must have been after pushing their limits so hard, but it was a risk nonetheless. Especially for a band like Blind Guardian, it seems unlikely the album turned out as well as it did; given that many of their past (and future) albums emphasized the awe of the arrangements, it's easy to forget that they're strong songwriters at heart. "Another Stranger Me" and "Lionheart" are two of the most contagious songs the band have ever penned in their time, and there are several other cuts off the album that could deserve being mentioned in the same sentence. Is it possible not to be swept away by the jovial optimism of "Turn the Page", or the melancholic sophistication of "Fly". Clearly it is possible judging from the opinions some others have expressed towards the album, but to my ears the album's catchiness is pretty irresistible, and cannot be found on anything else the band put out.

Blind Guardian weren't particularly progressive with this album, nor does the style here much resemble true power metal. Genre purists would probably say A Twist in the Myth is generally too slow and rock- oriented to warrant association with power metal. Regardless, it sounds completely like Blind Guardian. It's almost as if they stripped themselves of the pretences of power metal, and instead focused on writing songs regardless of genre. Although detractors and impartial arbiters alike would find common ground in describing A Twist in the Myth as Blind Guardian focusing on the fundaments of verse-and-chorus, these guys have always rocked at writing fantastic choruses. The two singles notwithstanding, "Otherland", "Straight Through the Mirror" and "Lionheart" all stand out for infectious, larger- than-life choruses. It should go without saying that these moments come with the band's signature choral harmonies. Hansi Kürsch gets a larger portion of the focus this time around, and leads the band confidently through each track. His greatest moment here is quite possibly the album's mandatory acoustic offering "Skalds and Shadows", which feels woefully underrated compared with the acclaim of their past minstrelsy. Even with a greater focus on mid-paced songwriting, his aggressive performance injects plenty of life into the music. Most painfully overlooked of all is the bonus track, "Dead Sound of Misery"; although it may be cynically interpreted purely as a variation on "Fly", it surpasses the single with its darker tone, and ties the album together in a way "The New Order" might have otherwise failed to achieve. Long story short; Blind Guardian may have shifted their angle somewhat, but they lost none of the tricks and flair they had picked up over the years.

Such as it is, A Twist in the Myth gets an undeservedly bad rep. Some people have even gone as far as to accuse Blind Guardian of selling out with this album. Hopefully I'm not the only one who knows otherwise. It's not Nightfall in Middle-Earth or A Night at the Opera, nor does it try to be. Hell, it's not even close to their pre-progressive stuff circa Battalions of Fear. What a lot of people seem to forget is that this was arguably a further step for them to take than any of the progressive albums in their career. To continue to satiate listeners with the same degree of bombast was one thing, but to rejuvenate themselves by seemingly going in the opposite direction? By all accounts, A Twist in the Myth should not have worked, nor should I like it as much as I do. And in case my praise is mistaken for preference; I will say I prefer any of the albums they had done prior since Tales from the Twilight World, but that shouldn't be held against the album. Indeed, whenever I've wanted a more grounded experience out of Blind Guardian, nothing but this one will do. It's a shame so many fans don't see it nearly so kindly.

Conor Fynes | 4/5 |


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