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Blackmore's Night - Fires At Midnight CD (album) cover


Blackmore's Night


Prog Folk

3.31 | 66 ratings

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3 stars "twiddly-twiddly-twiddle-doo" - Blackmore's acoustic guitar

Oh god, no, What's next? A folk opera about the trials and tribulations of latter day Arthurian magistrates? Shhhh, I'd better be quiet or Rick Wakeman might hear!

Fires At Midnight - Blackmore's Night - 2001 (1648)

Rating : 10/15

Best Song : The Dylan cover? Whatever, man... I STILL REMEMBER, I guess.

I just can't take this stuff like it should be taken. This is just too much generic, mid-tempo medieval folk rock for one man to stand, and there's not even a synth pop tune to mitigate the onslaught! Nope, it's another Blackmore's Night outing, and he's intent on welcoming the new millennium the same way he left the old one, as an innovative jazz metal outfit...

Jus' kiddin', it's all predictable medieval folk rock, but this time with more emphasis on the rock. Certainly, this is the most edgy release from the wee minstrel, and there's even some electric guitar, this time! But, don't expect another Man on the Silver Mountain, or anything, because it's still pretty tame folk doodling. But, I think I like it best out of the first three records. Fires at Midnight is another 70 minutes of material, and I'm obviously sitting here, wishing they'd cut it in half, for my sanity. Sadly, Blackmore's just got a damned muse to create, and create he shall! So sayeth Gandalf the green! Speaking of Gandalf, this stuff would serve as the perfect soundtrack to a Lord of the Rings film, and it can easily fit as your personal soundtrack to the Lord of the Rings books.

For the most part, this is Shadow of the Moon part III, and when they folk it up, they folk it up in the same way they've always folked it up. But there are hints, yes, hints of diversity and progression. Like I said before, there is a larger emphasis on the rock elements of the band, and Ritchie Blackmore even yanks out his electric guitar for a few inspired solos. Again, there are no serious misfires (unless you hate this style, thus rendering the whole thing one big, pompous-ass misfire), but personally, I see signs of artistic maturation and the ideas, when good, are fleshed out and engaging, such as the 'lectrified I Still Remember.

Another queer (but not out of place) move was covering Bob Dylan's classic Times They Are A-Changing. I think it's a good song, within itself, but compared to Zimmerman's original, this one is just gaudy, hollow, and kind of pitiful. It's still a fun song, but it's been completely sapped of personality and bite. They successfully turned a piece of rousing social commentary into a hobbit sex song. The rest of the stuff is really predictable, with occasional bar-room sing-along tunes, or the occasional guitar flourish, or the occasional pretty vocal melody from miss Night. It's all so easily predictable and unoriginal, though.

The majority of the songs are interchangeable with everything from any of their previous releases, and there's simply far too much material here to be easily consumed in one sitting. This atmosphere, however tasteful and stunning, is still too wearing on one's attention span to be anything more than classy background music for spellcasting or live action roleplaying. At seven and a half minutes, the title track overstays his welcome by six minutes, because no matter how quaint and charming that melody is, it's still the only thing carrying the song. Sure, there's a 'progressive' build-up, but a child could guess it was coming ten miles away. What keeps this record from getting haphazardly tossed into my "To never be listened to, again" bin, is the fact that it's all real professional, just like everything else this yokel has done (I guess). That, and it's more diverse than Under A Violet Moon, which makes up for the sickeningly long running time. There are more flute ditties, more violin scratches, and a wider range of speeds (ranging from mid tempo to a kind of faster mid tempo). Maybe if they'd cut it in half, I could more easily recommend this to my friends, neighbors, enemies, and pet dragons. As it stands, Fires At Midnight is a totally redundant, absolutely pretty record for folks in green tights.

*** Stars

Alitare | 3/5 |


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