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Blind Guardian

Progressive Metal

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Blind Guardian Battalions Of Fear album cover
3.23 | 126 ratings | 15 reviews | 6% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1988

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Majesty (7:31)
2. Guardian of the Blind (5:11)
3. Trial by the Archon (1:44)
4. Wizard's Crown (3:50)
5. Run for the Night (3:36)
6. The Martyr (6:17)
7. Battalions of Fear (6:08)
8. By the Gates of Moria (2:53)

Total time 37:14

Bonus track on 1989 & 2007 CD releases:
9. Gandalf's Rebirth (Lucifer's Heritage demo) (2:10)

Extra bonus tracks on 2007 remaster:
10. Brian (Lucifer's Heritage demo) (2:53)
11. Halloween (The Wizard's Crown) (Lucifer's Heritage demo) (3:39)
12. Lucifer's Heritage (Lucifer's Heritage demo) (5:00)
13. Symphonies Of Doom (Lucifer's Heritage demo) (4:24)
14. Dead Of The Night (Lucifer's Heritage demo) (3:45)

Line-up / Musicians

- Hansi Kürsch / lead vocals, bass
- André Olbrich / guitar, backing vocals
- Marcus Siepen / guitars, backing vocals
- Thomas Stauch / drums

- Markus Dörk / rhythm guitar (10-14)

Releases information

Artwork: Van Waay Design

LP No Remorse Records ‎- NRR 1001 (1988, Germany)

CD No Remorse Records ‎- NRR 1001 (1989, Germany) With a bonus demo track
CD Virgin ‎- 0946 3 96512 2 1 (2007, Europe) Remastered by Wolfgang Eller w/ 6 bonus demo tracks

Thanks to MikeEnRegalia for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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BLIND GUARDIAN Battalions Of Fear ratings distribution

(126 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(6%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(28%)
Good, but non-essential (40%)
Collectors/fans only (21%)
Poor. Only for completionists (5%)

BLIND GUARDIAN Battalions Of Fear reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars I only knew this album lately after I have been familiar with "the true music of Blind Guardian" i.e. those coming from "Nightfall in Middle-Earth" as well as "A Night at The Opera". For me the music from this album does not truly represent the unique sound of Blind Guardian. It's just like a power metal music like Helloween (Germany). I think in the beginning the band took a lot of influence from Helloween. The way drum performed is typical of any power metal album with its fast double pedal bass drum. The guitar works had not found its true sound of Blind Guardian. I think the guitar work is similar with those played by Michael Weikath of Helloween or Kai Hansen of Helloween.

The first two opening tracks "Majesty" and "Guardian of The Blind" are pure power metal music with heavy riffs and very fast tempo. "Try By The Archon" starts with electric guitar solo followed with marching drums. The music then flows in fast tempo. "Wizard's Crown" and "Run For The Night" still bring speed into music. "The Martyr" slows down the music with guitar riffs that are similar with Iron Maiden. "Batallions of Fear" brings back full power metal style. "Gandalf's Rebirth" is nice with guitar work that reminds me to the style of Yngwie Malmsteen. Looking at the title, this was the embryo of the band's journey into Tolkien based music.

Overall, this album is suitable only for collectors and especially those who favor Blind Guardian. Throughout the album I can hear clearly powerful and tight bass lines. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by CCVP
4 stars When four kids get together to make some noise and end up creating the biggest power metal band ever

Initial thoughts:

First of all, i must start saying that this is the most underrated Blind Guardian album ever! And it is just because it is raw speed metal and metal is too aggressive to prog ears. Well, imagine what kind of reaction King Crimson would cause on medieval Europe, whose ears were used to bird singing, soft flutes, lute and choirs with their heavy and devilish playing. . . . Its just sad that such a good metal album is so unrated here but, well, its a prog site after all: you can't expect people to like metal.

Well, better change the subject before i get killed by prog extremists. This album right here, besides not being exactly proggy, as i said before deserves a fair rating, for the sake of music and for the sake of moderation and intelligent thinking! Simple and straightforward heavy music can be very enjoyable and pleasant to listen and, since this album marks the beginning of the carrier of four unexperienced youngsters, nothing more logical than a simple, raw and inexperienced album. Battalions of Fear also brings many things that would continue until the present stage o Blind Guardian, 20 years after its release: the fixation in myths, legends and Tolkien's books.

About the songs, musicianship and other features there are some thing i would like to state:

Because of their inexperience, most of the album is played only fast, with no kind of exceptional musicianship whatsoever. This album also featured Hansi playing bass, something that would only last though the early years of the band, when he had stamina enough to sing with his voice of thunder and play as fast as hell.

Songs are mostly straightforward speed metal, with the exception of Trial by the Anchor and Gandalf's Rebirth.

One interesting thing is that some material here on this album was recorded on the 2 demos made by the band named Lucifer's heritage, that would later change its name to Blind Guardian.

Grade and final thoughts:

OK, i must agree that this album is not exactly a masterpiece of anything, but to give it such low grades is just disrespectful to Blind Guardian and its members. A four star grade seem appropriate, since the album is GREAT, but not exactly a masterpiece of prog rock.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Battalions of Fear" is the debut full-length studio album by Germam speed/power metal act Blind Guardian. The album was released through No Remorse Records in May 1988. Blind Guardian formed in 1984 under the Lucifer's Heritage monicker, but after being signed by No Remorse Records in 1988 they changed their name to the current one. The early years of the band saw several lineup changes and produced two demos.

Stylistically the material on "Battalions of Fear" is speed metal with melodic power metal leanings and even the occasional nod towards thrash metal. It´s strongly influenced by the early recordings of fellow countrymen Helloween and also contemporary releases by an artist like Running Wild, and you´ll find very little here to seperate Blind Guardian from other German speed/power artists of the era. The material on "Battalions of Fear" are however well written, relatively memorable, and very well performed. Already this early on Blind Guardian were an incredibly tight playing and skilled unit. They have considerable compositional skills too, and incorporate neo-classical elements and intriguing lead guitar work with ease. Lead vocalist/bassist Hansi Kürsch has a powerful and relatively raw voice, although he isn´t quite as rough sounding here as he would be on subsequent releases by Blind Guardian. Quite a few lyrics on the album are based on J. R. R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" (something they would of course explore much further on subsequent releases), but the band also touch other subjects, which are typically fantasy themed.

"Battalions of Fear" was recorded at Karo Studios, Münster, Germany in October?November 1987, with producer Kalle Trap. Considering the time of release and the fact that "Battalions of Fear" is a debut album, it´s relatively well produced. The album lacks a bit of bottom end and is a little thin sounding, but all details and instruments are clearly audible.

Upon conclusion "Battalions of Fear" is a pretty time typical German speed metal album and while the foundation of Blind Guardian´s great career was laid here, it´s not exactly obvious from listening to this album, how great that career would turn out to be. This is a decent but not excellent quality release and a 3 - 3.5 star (65%) rating is warranted.

(Originally posted on Metal Music Archives)

Review by b_olariu
4 stars Blind Guardian is a famous german speed metal band who was discovered in 1986 by Kai Hansen (the main guitarist and the lead composer of Helloween and later on Gamma Ray). While the first 3 albums of Blind Guardian has nothing in common with later releases, being rought and metal all the way, but good and very original in those times late '80's, the newer material is concentrate more on symphonic metal with a good touch of medieval elements and stunning musicianship as well. Battalions of fear is the first album by this german speed metal band release in summer of 1988. They manage to create with this album a good and solid reputation among metal bands of the late '80 's. They were unique not only in Germany , but also in the world, and that from the first album. Many bands aproaching this kind of music in those times, but some of them never reaches the solid musicianship or intelligent arrangement of Bind Guardian. They are still loved anywere in the world after 20 years of great music. Talking about this albums, is among my fav BG albums, is rough is great played, the twin guitars of Magnus Armin Siepen and André Olbrich are oni present delivering solid riffs and great solos. Another reason that they are so unique is the voice of Hansi Kürsch. Great and powerfull voice, rough , smooth when is needed, Kursch manage to creat something spacial with his voice. He is also the main composer of Demons and Wizards (solo project with the great guitarist of Iced Earth - Jon Schaffer). Now all the pieces stands as great to me, Majesty is classic piece of speed metal genre and is still played at concerts with great joy, and I think is the best from here. The rest are also good , rough but very plesent. The prog elements are missing in first 3 albums , but doesn't mean these 3 releases are bad, not by far, they are among the best in german metal and not only. So to Battalions of fear 4 stars for sure, very underrated album, quite good all the way, among their best, and surprisingly right from the start.
Review by Warthur
3 stars Blind Guardian's debut album may not be the most original thing they've ever released, the group still grasping towards their distinctive style, but shadows of the symphonic-influenced power metal powerhouse they would eventually become can be glimpsed here and there, and the band bring to the material they have here an energy and enthusiasm which is genuinely infectious. Maybe it is the case that the most classically-tinged track on here is a bonus track (Gandalf's Rebirth), but the thrash and speed-influenced material that makes up the rest of the album represents a more aggressive side of the band that would often be eclipsed later in their career. Blind Guardian would plot a course out of speed metal before long, but if you want an album of them playing in that style rather than the breed of power metal they would make their own this is about as speed metal-ish as they'd get.
Review by Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Battalions of Fear' - Blind Guardian (71/100)

On the one hand, we have the Blind Guardian fans who think things only started to get worthwhile circa Tales from the Twilight World, or even Somewhere Far Beyond. Stranger still; on the other hand, we've got the trve metal purists who turn their noses at anything past their speed metal work. The first two albums offer a much different experience than the meticulous arrangements the band are known for, but so what? As incomparable as Battalions of Fear is to, say, Nightfall in Middle-Earth, Blind Guardian's evolution has felt incredibly natural, consistent and steady throughout their decades-spanning career. Even as a speed metal band, they managed to set themselves a block above the average; although they wouldn't begin to find a truly unique personality until their third album, Battalions of Fear already demonstrated traces of Blind Guardian's exceptional scope and intelligence.

For good and bad points alike, there is the inevitable urge that comes with listening to Battalions of Fear; to compare it with latter albums. Although their steady development from speed to prog-tinged epic power was brought about by conscious steps forward with every album (they didn't make the leap from primitive to progressive overnight, after all!) I imagine it would be as unfair and misleading as to compare a professional baseball player to a fresh-faced tween in little league. Or, for the sake of another arbitrary example, as perverse as judging a speed metal album by a prog rock rubric. Genres represent different sets of ingredients; the best sushi cannot be compared to the best burgers, even if most days I'd prefer an Alaska Roll to a Baconator?. It does feel hypocritical to be stressing a point I am trying to stress should not need to be stressed, but needless to say Blind Guardian were operating within a different style earlier on, and direct comparisons only work to a certain point, although there's no helping the feeling of the band's bombastic future hanging in one's head while listening to the debut.

If there's anything that all (read: most) genres hold dear in any case, it is fundamentally strong and memorable composition. Even from their time as Lucifer's Heritage (from which many of the songs on BoF derive), Blind Guardian were working with more ambitious song structures than many of their speed metal ilk. Quality-era Megadeth notwithstanding, it's incredibly rare to see a song in this genre extend past conventional song lengths. In contrast, Battalions of Fear's centrepiece "Majesty" clocks in at seven- and-a-half minutes, and two songs off the second side (including the title track) outreach the six minute mark. While this no doubt stands as a foreshadowing of Blind Guardian's future exploits, what's more impressive is the fact that the songs manage to span these lengths without any loss to speed or excitement. "Majesty" bites just as hard as your average sleazeball metal song, but manages to take the excitement further with surprising hints of sophistication. Just listen to the opening riffs of "The Martyr" and it's pretty obvious that Blind Guardian weren't going to sit in their cradle for long.

The lyrics already demonstrated Blind Guardian's fierce love for Tolkien's Middle-Earth and its derivative fantasies, but the lyrics are arguably the least polished thing about the album. "A burning fire's in my brain / I could feel the deadly flame"-- Hansi didn't exactly stand a chance at winning a Hugo award for his contributions to imaginative fantasy for his lyrics here, but his minor struggles with English don't hinder his vocal performance. Hansi's voice is the only part of Battalions of Fear that is directly recognizable from their latter work, and it's also undoubtedly the thing that made them stand out early on. There aren't the overdubbed choral arrangements yet, but there don't need to be; he's got an aggressive, Teutonic bark to his vocals here that already sounded distinctive.

It's unfair to call Battalions of Fear one of Blind Guardian's weakest albums; even if it's true, it is replete with great riffs, biting energy, good songwriting and a hint of beyond-the-call intelligence. Even if I go against my own advice and give in to the temptation of comparison between eras, I don't necessarily think the comparison is totally unfavourable. There was a gripping, instantly gratifying speed and punch on the debut that was drowned out by the orchestrations by the time of Somewhere Far Beyond a few years later. It was a strong first step for Blind Guardian to make, and even if it doesn't carry the monumental artistic weight of their later achievements, it is woefully underrated, and undeservedly so.

Review by Modrigue
4 stars Prepare for an epic battle

First studio album of BLIND GUARDIAN, "Battalions of Fear" combines the epicness of 80's IRON MAIDEN with the destruction power of 80's METALLICA. Like their fellow countrymen HELLOWEEN, the music can be described as melodic speed / thrash metal, direct and ferocious. As their debut effort, Hansi K'rsch's singing is a bit rough and the tracks can get a little messy at times, but these small youth flaws are compensated by energy and rage. As you can see with the songs names, Tolkien's mythology is already part of the band's universe, even if the compositions do not possess the refinement of "Nightfall in Middle Earth" yet.

Do not rely on the circus music opening, the powerful "Majesty" is a thundering metal overture, with sharp guitar soli. The best song of the record, and one of BLIND GUARDIAN's classic! The dark "Guardian Of The Blind" also has a devastating riff and a catchy hymn. Very nice. The short instrumental "Trial By The Archon" reminds IRON MAIDEN's "The Ides of March", a little more sophisticated, and introduces the epic and rageous "Wizard's Crown". Wow! Until now, this is nearly perfect. However, the middle of the disc is its weak point. "Run For The Night" enjoyable, but a bit flat, whereas the uneven "The Martyr" has its moments, but is hard to follow and not very coherent.

Fortunately, inspiration comes back with the Maiden-esque title track, a ferocious fast composition with an efficient war hymn. The small melodic thrash instrumental "By The Gates Of Moria" incorporates a few surprises. Not excellent, but not bad either. The other ending instrumental, "Gandalf's Rebirth", is more convincing and coherent, and concludes the record on an enchanting feel.

"Battalions of Fear" is far better than BLIND GUARDIAN's next and other thrash opus, "Follow the Blind" (only "Valhalla" is worth listening in it). Although the music itself is not very original and the band has not crafted their identity yet, the compositions are direct, powerful and epic, without concessions or useless orchestration. What more could you ask for when you're leading your fearless battalions to battle?

An underrated album, one of the best and most aggressive from BLIND GUARDIAN! Very recommended to 80's speed metal, IRON MAIDEN and HELLOWEEN fans!

Review by siLLy puPPy
4 stars The progressive power metal behemoths today known as BLIND GUARDIAN formed all the way back in 1984 in Krefeld, Germany under the name Lucifer's Heritage when vocalist and bassist Hansi Kürsch and guitarist Andre Olbrich matched forces with bassist Markus Dörk and drummer Thomas Stauch. BATTALIONS OF FEAR is their first release and is an extremely competent example of how traditional 80s metal was transitioning at the time into different sub genres. There was something going on in Germany in the 80s. BLIND GUARDIAN was on the same trajectory as the other major melodic speed metal band of the day, Helloween. The two bands were intent on keeping the melodic development of their music as the focus of their metal attack while other strains of the genre were deviating in several different directions. BLIND GUARDIAN more than proves themselves as innovators of the future power metal scene by keeping their melodic developments strong and furious on their debut album BATTALIONS OF FEAR.

While the album starts off with a head scratching circus music keyboard riff it quickly blossoms into a full-fledged early power metal extravaganza titled "Majesty" complete with lightning fast riffage and neoclassical Iron Maiden inspired songwriting, but BLIND GUARDIAN were masters of their own destiny from the very start. It is apparent from the very first track of their very first album that these guys were all about quality and despite not exactly delivering a most original sound from the get go, they did exude a very confident delivery of their style that not only displayed their influences but also pointed to an early method of deviation thereof. Yes, the musicianship is more than competently displayed and gives a glimpse into the future but after all is said and done, these tracks are very interesting to listen to.

This has retrospectively been called speed metal but at the time it wasn't actually known as such. In 1988 thrash and progressive metal were just getting off the ground but a few German bands like BLIND GUARDIAN and Helloween were ramping up the melodic attributes of metal music and have since become two of the major forces in that particular strain of metal magic. While i'm much more partial to the progressively symphonic creativity of later BLIND GUARDIAN releases, i have to admit that i have a special weakness for this debut. While it does exude a sense of sameness thru out the album, all of the tracks are quite catchy in a metal sense and deliver a passionate conveyance of metal energy. While not quite deemed power metal at this point, there is more than enough evidence that a new sub genre of metal would soon gain hold as a distinct and powerful strain of the metal world. BATTALION OF FEAR is one of those major innovators in this development and a ridiculously catchy album that demands repeated listens. Me likey!

3.5 rounded UP!

Latest members reviews

2 stars Back in 1988 Guardians were far from being original. Helloween rip-offs here and there plus typical speed metal patterns. That's what this album is. Not a bad one for sure, still below their later shown skills. Majesty is the finest track on the record, some tunes like Wizard's Crown and Run for the ... (read more)

Report this review (#2216790) | Posted by Lore Knowledge | Thursday, May 30, 2019 | Review Permanlink

2 stars The first time I heard of Blind Guardian was in 2002, when I'd bought Iced Earth's 'Dark Genesis' collection and they were mentioned a number of times in the biography section. It wasn't too long after that I was in a music shop, coincidently in the bands home country of Germany, where I saw a d ... (read more)

Report this review (#1679051) | Posted by martindavey87 | Thursday, January 12, 2017 | Review Permanlink

4 stars "'Batallions', musically, was a tribute to Iron Maiden and the old Helloween on speed" - Hansi, Blind Guardian's vocalist. Except for the standard heavy metal track "Run For The Night" (not totally bad, but not progressive or relevant enough to rate as a good track here), Blind Guardian's ... (read more)

Report this review (#1053359) | Posted by VOTOMS | Friday, October 4, 2013 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Battalions of Fear ? 1988 (2/5) 8 ? Best Song: I don't particularly care. Is this some poorly enunciated joke? Am I to take this band seriously? Oh, the world of metal could be a very unforgiving place in the late 1980's. On one hand you had the immaculately processed MTV-ready radio pop meta ... (read more)

Report this review (#441405) | Posted by Alitare | Sunday, May 1, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars "Battalions of Fear", Blind Guardian's debut is also, together with their second opus, "Follow the Blind", the rawest and most aggressive album they ever put out. You're very wrong if you think that their first album also contains the symphonic/progressive elements that fill their latest offerin ... (read more)

Report this review (#182206) | Posted by Nhorf | Thursday, September 11, 2008 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This is the first album of Blind Guardian, dare to say the greatest Power Metal artists. Looking back from year 2007 one can say that there is nothing special about this album. At the same time when I first heard this album, (it was 1990 when Kai Hansen already left Helloween, if it tells anythi ... (read more)

Report this review (#141048) | Posted by Bratus | Saturday, September 29, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Battalions of fear has nothing to do with progressive rock at all, but is one of my favourites not only from the band, but as a metal album too. Blind guardian's fisrt album ,is a typical power/speed metal album of the german scene, full of energy and powerful but melodic riffs. The music ha ... (read more)

Report this review (#137749) | Posted by NICKAR | Tuesday, September 11, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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