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Blind Guardian - Somewhere Far Beyond CD (album) cover

SOMEWHERE FAR BEYOND

Blind Guardian

 

Progressive Metal

3.59 | 103 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Nhorf
4 stars Often regarded as a classic, “Somewhere Far Beyond” represents also an important transitional point for Blind Guardian, from the relatively straight-forward speed metal music they were playing, in the beginning, to the more ambitious path they went through with this record and all its sucessors. All in all, “Somewhere Far Beyond” contains, at the same time, elements from both phases of the band; the songs are quite fast and, at times, aggressive, but the album also carries an interesting epic vibe, similar to the one present on the most recent Blind Guardian records, like “Nightfall in Middle-Earth”.

“Time What is Time” is the perfect example to describe this album's sound. The tune begins with a little acoustic intro, reminiscent of the intros of the early Metallica albums, getting heavier then with a nice aggressive riff which is also repeated throughout the song. The track sounds pretty much like the ones featured on some of the early Blind Guardian records until the chorus is sung for the first time; it is quite anthemic and wouldn't sound out of place on, say, “A Night at the Opera”. As you can see, “Time What is Time” is a perfect representation of what this album is: the point where they, while still playing the traditional speed metal, began adding the so-called 'epic' elements to their music.

So, “Somewhere Far Beyond” seems to be the 'perfect', so to speak, Blind Guardian album: the fans of both phases off the band can be pleased and will certainly like the record. Those who loved the power metal anthems featured on “Nightfall” will love the choruses, the vocal layers present and the whole atmosphere of the album, while those who prefer “Follow the Blind” will still love the aggressive riffs, raw drumming and blazing guitar solos featured on many of the tunes.

There are some nice interludes present here, but they are not in the vein of the ones present on, say, “Follow the Blind”; while the so-called 'interludes' of that record were more like little instrumentals, generally filled with some solos, this time they are different and are used to improve the atmosphere and the whole listening experience. “Black Chamber” is a quite somber piano piece, featuring some heartfelt vocals by Hansi and “Piper's Calling” works perfectly well as a folk-ish intro, leading us to the title track, the longest song of the bunch.

Returning to Hansi's vocals, he always was a great vocalist and, again, his performance doesn't disappoint. He is extremely talented and his performance is quite varied on this album. Examples? On “Time What is Time” he adopts a more aggressive approach, the same thing going for “Quest for Talenorn”; on other hand we can found him singing very emotionally and melodically on the already mentioned “Black Chamber” and on “Bard's Song – In the Forest”, which is one of the most popular Blind Guardian ballads (and, for a damn good reason, since it absolutely rules). At times he even delivers some high-pitched screams, a la Halford, which just confirms how amazing his vocal range is.

Production-wise, this album is damn competent. All the instruments sound pretty clear, even though I have some problems at times with the double-bass pedals, they are almost inaudible on some songs. The guitars sound pretty good though, which kind of compensates. The bass isn't as present here as on their debut and is, unfortunately, inaudible during most of the times, but I've already got used to it (generally, the metal bands bury their bassists), so I won't complain that much. Comparing to the other Blind Guardian works, I actually prefer the production of this album to the one of the so-called magnum opus of this act, “Nightfall in Middle-Earth”, as the latter highlights the vocals too much, the guitars being quite inaudible during most of the times.

As a whole, the album flows really well, there aren't many fillers present here, the only one being “Bard's Song – The Hobbit”, a weak tune I never really understood. Its structure is quite generic and so is the guitar work. Overall, a pretty worthless track. The other songs are all quite strong, despite not being absolute masterpieces. My personal favourite is the before-mentioned opener, “Time What is Time”; the great “Bard's Song – In the Forest” (one of the best Blind Guardian ballads, together with “Lord of the Rings”) is also absolutely worth listening too, and so are all the tracks pretty much from “Journey Through the Dark” to “Ashes to Ashes”. They all have powerful choruses, good guitar work and impressive vocal performances. The title track is also very similar to those tunes, despite being a little more elaborated and ambitious. There's also a constant use of acoustic guitars throughout the record, “In the Forest” is the perfect example, being a 100% acoustic song; “Time What is Time” and “Ashes to Ashes” also contain some acoustic lines. Personally, I think that the presence of acoustic guitar is excellent, giving more variety to “Somewhere Far Beyond”.

Concluding, one of my favourite Blind Guardian records, a good mixture of power and speed metal, and highly recommended to fans of both genres. If you intend to buy this piece, I'd recommend you to get the remastered version; the sound is better and there are some interesting bonus tracks (the covers of “Trial by Fire” and “Spread Your Wings” are both excellent and deserve a listen, that's for sure – the two demo versions included are both a bit worthless though, oh well).

Best Moments of the CD: -the beginning of “Time What is Time”. -the transition between the interlude “Piper's Calling” to the title track.

Nhorf | 4/5 |

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