Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography


Blind Guardian

Progressive Metal

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Blind Guardian Nightfall In Middle-Earth album cover
4.06 | 316 ratings | 31 reviews | 42% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

Write a review

from partners
Studio Album, released in 1998

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. War Of Wrath (1:50)
2. Into The Storm (4:24)
3. Lammoth (0:28)
4. Nightfall (5:34)
5. The Minstrel (0:32)
6. The Curse Of Feanor (5:41)
7. Captured (0:26)
8. Blood Tears (5:25)
9. Mirror Mirror (5:06)
10. Face The Truth (0:24)
11. Noldor (Dead Winter Reigns) (6:51)
12. Battle Of Sudden Flame (0:44)
13. Time Stands Still (At The Iron Hill) (4:53)
14. The Dark Elf (0:23)
15. Thorn (6:19)
16. The Eldar (3:39)
17. Nom The Wise (0:33)
18. When Sorrow Sang (4:25)
19. Out On The Water (0:44)
20. The Steadfast (0:21)
21. A Dark Passage (6:01)
22. Final Chapter (Thus Ends...) (0:48)

Total Time: 65:31

Bonus track on 2007 remaster:
23. Harvest Of Sorrow (3:40)

Line-up / Musicians

- Hansi Kürsch / lead & backing vocals
- André Olbrich / lead, rhythm & acoustic guitars
- Marcus Siepen / rhythm guitar
- Thomas Stauch / drums, percussion

- Mathias Wiesner / keyboards, orchestral effects
- Michael Schüren / grand piano
- Max Zelzner / flutes
- Oliver Holzwarth / bass, fretless bass
- Rolf Köhler / backing vocals
- Billy King / backing vocals
- Thomas Hackmann / backing vocals
- Olaf Senkbeil / backing vocals
- Douglas Fielding / narration
- Norman Eshley / narration

Releases information

Based on the story The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Artwork: Andreas Marschall

CD Virgin ‎- 7243 8 45899 2 9 (1998, Germany)
CD Virgin ‎- 0946 3 96520 2 0 (2007, Germany) Remastered by Wolfgang Eller with a bonus track

Thanks to MikeEnRegalia for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
Edit this entry

Buy BLIND GUARDIAN Nightfall In Middle-Earth Music

BLIND GUARDIAN Nightfall In Middle-Earth ratings distribution

(316 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(42%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(34%)
Good, but non-essential (16%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)

BLIND GUARDIAN Nightfall In Middle-Earth reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by MikeEnRegalia
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This is one of my most favorite albums of all time ... and it also happens to be one of the most controversial ones in terms of "prog status". Blind Guardian started as a plain speed/power metal band and then slowly developed and refined their style into something very unique ... a blend of medieval/folk, fierce speed/power metal and Queen-like vocal arrangements. The progressiveness lies in the way these elements are combined into a consistent work of art, which they succeeded in doing on some of their albums, most notably Imaginations from the Other Side, Nightfall in Middle Earth and A Night at the Opera. Out of these Nightfall in Middle-Earth is their ultimate achievement as far as I am concerned ... there are people who favor its successor (A Night at the Opera) because it's even more pompous, with slightly better production and more polished songwriting. But then again it doesn't have the sophisticated concept of Nightfall, which is another major asset which sets this album apart from other orchestral metal albums. It is based on Tolkien's Silmarillion ... but rather than re-telling the story of the Silmarillion - which would be rather boring and obvious - they chose to pick key elements of the story for each track and loosely connect them with narrative bits and interludes.

It all works tremendously well, with great dynamics and mood swings - fierce metal is a constantly returning element, but always with great melody and often polyphonic interplay between the melody lines and the guitars, which are another trademark of the Blind Guardian style: Rather than switching between "lead mode" and "rhythm mode" they often play lead-like melodies which are carefully arranged to accompany the vocals ... there are some occasional solos, but they're always concise and focused.

I'm giving the album 5 stars ... in my humble opinion it is absolutely essential for any prog metal collection. That doesn't mean that everybody must love this album ... if you don't like power metal, fantasy lyrics or medieval/folk elements then by all means steer clear. But if you happen to like these elements then you may be in for a treat!

Review by 1800iareyay
4 stars Blind Guardian's previous two albums showed that the band was heading into uncharted territory for power metal. Hansi Kursch decided to go for broke and record a concept album dealing with Tolkien's less celebrated masterpeice, The Simarillion. He also adds medieval sounds, which isn't uncommon in the neo-classical world of power metal, but his arrangements stand out somehow. I'm not sure how to describe it. I guess it's more musical than other bands who use medieval vibes. Hansi doesn't have them there just to prove he's power metal. The result is a tremendous metal album that stands as the peak of BG (and in many ways power metal).

What is very intriguing about Blind Guardian is how they treat the guitars. Much of power metal features blazing rhythms that give way to frantic solos. As Mike said, Olbrich and Siepin instead accompany Hansi's singing. It's almost like an operatic R&B group. For this album Hansi gave up bass duties to focus on his vocals, which are overdubbed so many times they give Freddie Mercury a run for his money. "Into the Storm," "Nightfall," "Noldor," and most of the tracks are incredible, fll of intensity yet never sacrificng the musicality.

Nightfall is BG's magum opus. It's highly enjoyable, and I often discover new things with each listen. However, the middle part of teh album drags a little, even though the songs are good. Hansi is one of the best vocalists in metal, which is full of incredible singers. In my opinion, he is the second most emotional power metal singer next to Iced Earth's Matt Barlow (third if you count Quuensryche as power metal, in which case Geoff Tate reigns supreme). Prog metal fans (especially Symphony X fans) will find a lot to love about the progressive power metal of Blind Guardian. Highly recommended.

Grade: B+

Review by King of Loss
4 stars This is no doubt my favorite Power Metal album with the best Power Metal band in the world producing it! (Blind Guardian). This album is where all the magic of earlier such albums as Somewhere Far Beyond and Imaginations From the Other Side comes together! The brilliance of Olbrich's and Siepen's songwriting mixed in with Hansi Kursch's brilliant multi-layered vocals creates a brilliant sound that is epic in proportion. In Many words, there is not a better written Power Metal album than this Metal masterpiece and as the Gods of Power Metal have produced yet another great album! But this one has surpassed what Imaginations and Somewhere have done. In all words, there is not a single weak moment on this album, but many highlights and a story that is all well dedicated to JRR Tolkein in traditional Power Metal sense.

A great album for any serious music collection!

Recommended for All Metal fans and fans of Prog in general!

4.5/5 really!

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I owned this album long time ago - it's probably three years ago - through my metal head friend, Hengky, who was a big fan of the band. Hearing the band's name, I was not interested at all because I thought that this must be a true metal band full of distortions and heavy riffs. But when I saw this album in the form of cassette displayed at one of local CD stores, I purchased it anyway - to give a try and proved what Hengky advised me. In typical gathering, it's usual that we - all friends who love metal, classic rock, prog rock - influence one to another for certain band's music. Usually I was only interested with those related to classic rock or prog rock. So when I knew that Blind Guradian was pigeon-holed as power metal band, I was not too keen to explore further.

But from the cassette of "Nightfall in Middle Earth" I can grab the nuance and style of the music even though the sonic quality of the cassette was not that good. So, after I had the cassette for a couple of months, finally I purchased the CD as well. BOOM! With CD format I could get the subtleties (not just the nuance!) of the music this album produces. It's so wonderful and I did enjoy it very much. By then I kept repeating to spin the CD over and over in its entirety. That's the beauty of this album: it should be enjoyed in its entirety because the music tells a continuous story - without having to know what the story is all about.

As human being, there is a tendency to review or evaluate something by making a reference to something else. So, when I listen to this album I made a reference to other music and since this is a concept album based on JRR Tolkien's Silmarillion, I don't know why, out of the blue the "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" by Genesis come into my mind. You might be wondeting WHY The Lamb? Isn't totally different kind of music? How can you compare such legendary album by the seniors of prog music with the kids in Blind Guardian? Hold your thoughts for a second!

I have grown myself with such old school legendary prog bands like Genesis, Yes and the like. I adore them and as far as Genesis concern, The Lamb Lies Down is the band's best album throughout their entire music career. I know, the album was created when the band was in shaky situation when Peter Gabriel tendered his resignation to pursue a solo career. But the music created was so wonderful. Even though the story was quite absurd and there were many different kind of interpretations to the lyrics, but the music sounds like telling a coherent story. I still love the album until now!


Is Nightfall as BIG as The Lamb?

Well, it depends .

If you are a die hard fan of old school prog music, you might say that the music that was created after the glory days of 70s is a repetition of what it was made in the 70s. And, it's nothing wrong with that. I understand your situation and I respect it. There were strong elements of old prog music that are repeated in nowadays prog music. You might feel there is no new invention, musically, that the modern music delivers. I have a lot of friends who have this opinion firmly and they dare to say outloud that they hate what Marillion had done in 80s because it's a rip off Genesis. Some of my friends even say that metal music is nonsense because there is no harmony, it's just making LOUD music - that's it. Even some of them say that Dream Theater and progressive metal music are not good at all - so boring. Well, are you in this box? If so, you should not own this album by Blind Guardian.

But, It's not the case with me. Yes, I'm an adorer of old school prog - I even sometimes had tears in my eyes enjoying "Fly on A Windshiled" from Genesis The Lamb album. But in mid 90s started to know Dream Theater and later I liked the music delivered by Helloween, Sonata Arctica, Stratovarious, Royal Hunt, etc. and later I knew Kamelot. So, I have two sides of a coin: the prog site of old school prog and the metal side of modern music. Thanks God .. I enjoy both of them. In fact, I have tears in my eyes listening to Kamelot "Ghost Opera" as well as Blind Guardian's "Nightfall in Middle Earth".

So, right there deep in my heart I can compare this album by Blind Guardian at par excellent with old school The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway by Genesis. It's quite weird statement, isn't it? But, believe me, I'm NOT a weirdo!

So why ..?

Story oriented music. Yes, I said above that this album is very anchored to the story line. You can hear the nuance where the lead vocalist Hansi Kursch sings - in a way like telling something in well designed story line. Look at how he emotionally deliver all lyrical passages with its strong accentuations, nuances of the story as well as the combination of ups and downs in register notes. The lyrical passages sound quite uplifting like during The Storm: "We are following the will of the one / Through the dark age and into the storm / And we are following the will of the one / Through the dark age and into the storm / Lord I'm mean" followed by wonderful music. It's really uplifting.

Powerful storyline. Both The Lamb and Nightfall are pretty strong in storyline. In the case of Nightfall, it's rooted in and inspired by JRR Tolkien's Silmarillion. I have not read the book yet but from the lyrical point of view I can see that the beginning part of the story reminds me to the story of Lord of the Rings. Remember when Smeagle tok the ring from his friend by killing him at the opening of the movie? Basically, the music and the story blends nicely in this Nightfall album.

Tight composition. This album has a pretty tight composition with relatively high density of combined notes in relatively short period. Style wise, this is a prog album because it has many style changes and tempo changes. The choices of melody are also excellent because there are variations from one song to another with thematic bridges between songs.

Under the banner of Genesis The Lamb, I can have the title track, Fly on a Windshield, In The Cage The Lamia, Anyway, Carpet Crawlers as strong compositions. In nightfall, I have powerful tracks as well like Into The Storm, Nightfall, The Curse of Feanor, Blood Tears, Noldor, etc.


You might think I am exaggerating the matter. Honestly, NO. I just want to put thing into perspective that good creation does not necessarily mean something really new that has never been invented before. More importantly, I want to break the barriers or thoughts that generally say: "There is nothing special after the glory days of 70s" because Nightfall proves to be a wonderful album. In other word, good music can even be created under modern days. The old adage says: The great discovery does not lie on inventing new land but looking at existing land with different angle..

Keep on proggin' .! And you MUST BUY this album man .!!

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I actually got Nightfall in Middle-Earth as the last of my Blind Guardian albums which meant that I had enjoyed both Imaginations From the Other Side and A Night at the Opera before this one. But as this is the album in the middle of those two releases it builds a nice bridge between them.

The album is more song oriented than Imaginations From the Other Side and not as aggressive. Hansi had at this point dropped the bas to concentrate fully on the vocals which meant that Oliver Holzwarth ( Sieges Even) was hired to play the bas on the album.

I´m not too thrilled about the short interludes between the real songs, but I guess they help to emphasize the lyrics. Favorite songs are Time Stands Still (At the Iron Hill), Into the Storm and Mirror Mirror.

This is just as good as Imaginations From the Other Side allthough Blind Guardian has emphazised other things on Nightfall in Middle-earth. But the quality remains really high.

Review by Prog Leviathan
3 stars I admit that I am a Tolkien enthusiast of the highest nerdly calibur, which was a big part of why I tried this album out, and which is also why I decided to give it three stars. Honestly, I don't think that the music here is much to be wowed by; there are more bands doing more interesting things than we hear here, but what fun to hear songs about the Morgoth and Feanor!

The first thing Blind Guardian has going for it, is a genuine energy to their performance and songwriting. Into the Storm starts the album with an fiery explosion of metal, complete with screaming hot vocals and constant guitar shredding. This is pretty consistant throughout, thankfully with enough tempo variations and catchy choruses to keep things interesting. Of course, Blind Guardian's schtik is their inclusion of what can only be described as folk/madrigal music into their power-metal songwriting. You'll hear folksy breaks (performed acoustically and as metal) throughout. These come across as... well silly, but if you're listening to an album about the First Age Middle Earth you won't be bothered by a little silliness. As a whole the album is great power-metal fun that nicely dramatizes key moments of the Silmarillion-- with a few gaping holes in the narrative.

My complaints are two-fold. First, Kürsch's vocals has two settings: a gravely scream he uses for the loud parts, and a dancing croon for the madrigal. The listener can practically here him flipping the switch during the transitions. Secondly, is the painful length of this album-- around 76 minutes, which has wild swings in quality, especially in the latter half which seems unfocused and lacks the energy of the first set of songs. This combined with the constant scream of Kürsch makes it difficult to sit though the album's entirety.

So, in my opinion, definintely NOT a masterpiece, but still a great bit of fun power-metal for the occasional tongue-in-cheek litsen. Personally, I would have chosen different parts of the Silmarillion's narrative to write about-- but what do I know, I am just a Tolkien nerd whose read it a dozen times.

Songwriting: 3 Instrumental Performances: 3 Lyrics/Vocals: 3 Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

Review by LiquidEternity
4 stars Definitely a sold album. While I would recommend starting with A Night at the Opera, this one also is certainly quality. The whole Silmarillion concept is swallowable, and actually enables the band to squeak some emotion in there without singing about themselves. Hansi is in fine form, creating epic choirs all by his lonesome. That alone is something worth hearing. The rest of the musicians are spot on, especially their drummer, who always blows my mind with his speed and technique. Not my favorite, but certainly a fun one to listen to.

If you can enjoy the sound of Blind Guardian at all, this is a good album to go for. The interludes are mostly nonmusical, and thus a bit obnoxious, but the songs are worth having the addenda. Heck, buy it just to own a copy of Mirror Mirror.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars No doubt this is BLIND GUARDIAN's most well known and ambitious album. They dedicated it to J.R.R.Tolkien, and in fact this is a concept album about his book "The Silmarillion". There are 22 songs on this record but half of them are made up of short little narration pieces, folky tunes, or what sounds like sound clips from a movie. I feel the music on their two previous albums are better than what's on this one, but it's the concept that takes priority to the music here. And no matter how well this has been done (and it's amazing) I would take a great album of music over a great concept album any day.

I won't comment on the 11 short pieces except for the first one "War Of wrath". This one opens the album with the sounds of a battle. It's so cool to hear the swords clashing and people yelling and everything else going on. What a way to open the record ! "Into The Storm" hits the ground running with a heavy and fast soundscape. Vocals and vocal harmonies are prominant, and I like the guitar solo to end it. "Nightfall" is fairly laid back with flute in the intro and reserved vocals. It does get fuller and more passionate quickly. "The Curse Of The Feaner" is like "Into The Storm" as it's fast and heavy with harmonies. I like the short instrumental section before 3 minutes.

"Blood Tears" is the best so far. It has a mournful soundscape and lyrics until it kicks into gear after 1 1/2 minutes with some ripping guitar. It settles down again before taking off once again. "Mirror Mirror" is such a catchy tune with relentless drumming. Very uptempo. "Noldor (Dead Winter Reigns)" is another favourite. It's mid-paced with powerful vocals that come and go. Excellent guitar before 4 minutes. Killer sound a minute later. "Time Stands Still (At The Iron Hill)" is my favourite track on here. I think you can call this "kicking ass". This is an all out assault folks. "Thorns" openes with heaviness and background synths. Some good guitar in this one. "The Eldar" is basically piano and vocals. "When Sorrow Sang" is heavy duty and uptempo. He's beating the hell out of his drums. "A Dark Passage" is all about the vocals.

If i was into concept albums this would easily be 4 stars.

Review by Conor Fynes
5 stars 'Nightfall in Middle-Earth' - Blind Guardian (88/100)

As much as I love the exhaustive detail and mythic elegance of Tolkien's Middle-Earth universe and most of the stories he wrote around it, I have never been able to appreciate The Simarillion. Keeping in mind it's been years since I last attempted slogging through it, I remember an incredibly joyless read that seemed to make every effort to make an epic struggle between gods and men (and elves) as dry and as academic as possible. That Blind Guardian took the practically unreadable Quenta Simarillion as proper inspiration for such an exciting power metal masterpiece establishes two facts: first, that Hansi Kursch and company are undoubtedly pretty [%*!#]ing hardcore about their love for J.R.R and fantasy literature. Secondly-- and vastly more important-- is that if Blind Guardian were able to adapt one of the most somnolent fantasy epics ever into one of metal's most memorable classics with the source material's seriousness and severity intact, there can be no doubt that the men behind this music are geniuses, the likes of which are so rarely seen in this and other styles of music that Nightfall in Middle-Earth's existence still remains a cause for celebration, years following its release.

I might not think that Nightfall in Middle Earth is the very best Blind Guardian album, but it was my first experience of them, and I can still see why so many fans point the finger at this sombre concept album whenever their name and 'magnum opus' are mentioned at once. In a nutshell; with Somewhere Far Beyond and Imaginations from the Other Side, the band had all but perfected their 'Queen meets Helloween' style of progressive metal. The speed metal roots were long gone by this point, exchanged for a bombastic mode of orchestration that got progressively more intense with each album. Releasing another set of songs in the style of its two predecessors would have met no contest from fans or critics, but they went a step further. They did more on Nightfall in Middle Earth than pad the music with interludes and conceptual narrative; Blind Guardian got surprisingly dark and serious in their tone with this one. Power metal detractors love to bash this genre often on the basis that it's too light, uplifting and flowery, too bombastic and 'cheesy' for its own good. I might be able to see some listeners still thinking those last two things about Nightfall in Middle Earth, but uplifting it is not. There's no denying the sobering tone and atmosphere on this album. It has more in common with a grim Medieval opera hosted in a dungeon than anything by Rhapsody or Avantasia.

In spite of the album's seriousness, the vast majority of the songs here are incredible, and all of them memorable. Following the mandatory intro "War of Wrath", "Into the Storm" hits with a frantic urgency that sounds more energetic than anything from their speed metal days. It's one of my favourite openers ever, complete with an epic chorus that acts as beckoning overture to the rest of the madness on the album. I'll never forget "Nightfall" either, a self-contained six minute masterpiece that lingers between melancholic Medieval-tinged acoustics and thunderous power metal anthemry as you've never heard it before. "The Curse of Feanor", "Thorn" and "The Dark Passage" all earn the impression of smallscale epics in their own rights. Although they are insignificantly longer than an 'average' song, they feel so boldly sculpted that it's daunting to fathom how much time went into their crafting. And then, of course, there are the faster-paced tracks fans of the band's first three albums should love; "Mirror Mirror", "Time Stands Still" and "When Sorrow Sang" all bear their fangs sharply; though they're more visceral than the aforementioned 'epics', there's still just as much detail invested in their arrangement. Medieval musical influences are replete throughout the band's accompaniments, and it's quite easy to imagine the band playing alongside an ensemble of minstrels as the album roars along.

"The Eldar" and "Blood Tears" bolster the album as ballads from two sides of the spectrum. "The Eldar" is gentle and piano-driven; ultimately, it sounds like a Hansi Kursch loveletter to the operatic sweetness of Freddy Mercury; it's not often we hear him sounding so tender and vulnerable. "Blood Tears" is slow, brooding and occasionally heavy, but doesn't excite me like so much of the album. Between "Blood Tears" and the somewhat disappointing mid-pacer "Noldor", Nightfall in Middle-Earth has a couple of less-impressive tunes that keep the album from being excellent from start-to-finish.

Needless to say, there are also the interludes to contend with. As much as I truly believe Nightfall in Middle-Earth deserves recognition among the best power metal has to offer, so many of the little segues are unnecessarily padded. The acoustic minstrel pieces ("The Minstrel" and "Battle of Sudden Flame" etc) add colour and flow to the album, but spoken word tracks like "Nom the Wise" and "Final Chapter" don't appear to serve any purpose, save to add loading time between one song and the next. I can't imagine a concept album about The Simarillion without some kind of padded interluding, but the approach they took to the narrative is misguided. Not to mention, it makes the track listing look like a [%*!#]ing bomb went off.

The interludes are certainly annoying (especially after you've listened to the album a hundred times) but the music itself is often incredible. If there was any overhanging criticism I'd have of Blind Guardian's output here, it would be the production, which seems to struggle a bit in making sure all of the musical ingredients have a voice. A 2007 remaster has largely improved upon that issue however. As I'm writing this, I've listened to and owned this album for near a decade. It was the first Blind Guardian record I ever owned, and it's one of the few albums I've heard in my life where I can precisely remember the occasion I first slid in the disc and sat back to listen. Nightfall in Middle-Earth is imperfect in all of its bombast and ambition, but it's the sort of album only Blind Guardian could have made.

Review by b_olariu
4 stars Blind Guardian at the peak and yet quite controversial album in their career. Released in 1998 named Nightfall in middle earth is a concept album based on J.R.R. Tolkien's Silmarillion. From this album on we can talk about prog metal in musical aproach, the previouses releases were towards speed/power metal, this one has beside usual speed elements some folk/medieval interplays between pieces as narration . So what do I expect from this album: much , because is 3 and a half years between this one and the previous from 1995, so enough time to creat something not necesarly considered a masterpiece but a good and solid album all the way. At first listning more than 10 years ago I was not very impressed, realy, I was expecting the same speedy riffs and powerfull arrangemants, but after many listnings ( I guess since now were at least 30 spins in 10 years) I begun to understand the core of the album, maybe because my musical collection and tastes in music were changing to a more complicated music to listen. Anyway I find this album a real succes in Blind Guardian discography,a real great concept album who fits very well in Guardian's music. The album is divided in 22 pieces, but only half of them are real tracks the other half are short narrations interplayed with folk arrangements or medieval sounds. Not bad at all, BG manage to creat not necesarly over the top, but pleasent all the way and what is more important never boring a second. I said earlier in this review about prog metal on this album, because the musical arrangements are much complex and elaborate then on their previouses albums. Here are beside some mellow parts, up tempo pieces, the real trademark of BG, nice and changing atmosphere from piece to piece. The musicianship is as always top notch, with a plus here, is more complicated and for sure can be considered prog metal. Every musician shine here, n bas is invited Oliver Holzwarth from Sieges Even fame. The best pieces are to me:The Curse of Feanor, Time Stands Still (At the Iron Hill), The Eldar, When Sorrow Sang and from the folky side (the shorter section):The Dark Elf and War of Wrath. So a big album for BG who desearve for sure 4 stars, one of underrated albums in their discography and without a good reason, at least I considered among the best they ever done. Recommended and the prog metal listner can take easy a close listen.
Review by The Crow
4 stars "Nightfall in Middle Earth" is the perfect example of a band in the peak of its career... Sadly, after this album the things would never be the same for this german guys!

Taking the story from some chapter of JRR Tolkien's "The Silmarillion", Blind Guardian managed to make their most passionate, well composed and perfectly balanced album. But there is a clear influence in this album, and it's called SAVATAGE, the marvellous american band. It's obvious that Hansi Kursch and company listened carefully "Dead Winter Dead" and the other Savatage's albums before recording "Nightfall in Middle Earth", because the influence is clear. The way of telling the story throughout the album is similar, and so are the lyrics... The chorus of Thorn talks about "edge of thorns...", just like the famous Savatage's album, and Dead Winter Reigns sounds suspiciously similar to the other named Savatage record. Musically, the influence is also evident... The piano intro of The Eldar could perfectly be one of the Tampa's band ballads, and the use of vocal harmonies to make the choirs in A Dark Passage is also similar.

But this influence is not big enough to fade the personality of this band, because this album is still Blind Guardian... The hard riffing and complex instrumental interludes from "Imaginatios from the Other Side" are still here, but adorned with a lot more variety and changing ambients, and an appropiate symphonic feeling, coherent with the story. This album is not so fast like the previous one, and it has a lot of middle speed tracks, being some of them true gems, like Blood Tears and Thorn. It's has the variety of "Somewhere Far Beyond" and the power of "Imaginatios from the Other Side", but it's better in all aspects.

Another great fact in this album is the Hansi's voice... Although he gained a lot of skills since the last album, he is still using his classical, original and broken voice, wich will always remember me to Savetage's Jon Oliva. This is something he lost in later albums, and I miss it a lot. But here he shines in every track, making his best performance in the whole Blind Guardian's career, just like André Olbich with his distinctive guitar playing and the rest of the band.

Best Tracks: it's really difficul to say... All them are top quality songs. I specially enjoy Into the Storm, Nightfall, Mirror Mirror, Blood Tears and Thorn. But the 3/4 curious rythm in A Dark Passage is also great, The Eldar is beautiful, When Sorrow Sang rescues some of the old style of the band... I really like every track!

Conclusion: "Nightfall in Middle Earth" is, in my opinion, the best album that Blind Guardian ever made... And having listened their last two works, I think the band will never achieve the great quality of this release again. It was a sweet moment, theere was magic in the air, the planets were aligned... The concept and story are great if you like Tolkien's books, the songs are a torrent of great ideas, marvellous interpretation, heart touching progressive moments (in the vein of the best Savatage's albums...) and the sound is also very good. So if you don't want to miss one of the best power/progressive metal albums from the past decade, please give "Nightfall on Middle Earth" a listening.

My rating: ****1/2

Review by Isa
3 stars |C| One of the better cheesy power-folk metal albums out there.

The power-folk metal genre is more often then not an inevitable ball of cheese, for any band. Now don't get me wrong, I have no prejudice against the style. There are bands that pull it off effectively and convincingly, Wintersun being a perfect example, in my opinion. However, this output falls more within the cheese-ball arena, and there are far too many mediocre bands that sound almost exactly like this. However, even with that in consideration, there's some quality work in this album. Certainly an album in the spirit of Tolkien's work is one to check out.

From what I can tell from this work, Blind Guardian is generally more artistic and skilled at their craft than most of their power-folk counterparts. I really like the diverse and effective use of non-rock instruments, especially in the folk sections of the album, and some of the heavier power-metal sections as well. The overall composition has a good sense of detail. What's more there are a lot of good riffs, melodies, sound-effects, etc., and a decent coherent lyrical concept that helps the album hold its own in. I'm sure a read of the Silmarillion and how the lyrics are musically conveyed would be a fascinating study. There are some solid tracks on here as well, Eldar (that pianist has some chops!) and Blood Tears are my favorites, and A Dark Passage was a great ending song.

Quality of craft is certainly less often the case in the all-out power-metal sections of fast rhythm-guitar strumming, fast sweeping scale runs, stereotypical cutting guitar tone, and double-bass madness that sound exactly like every other power-metal band out there (Nom the Wise a perfect example). I also really dislike the vocalist, he has little to no subtly in his singing, even in the soft folk sections. He's either a growling orc or a nasally over-forced minstrel, and as Prog-Leviathan pointed out, you can pretty much hear him switch between the two like an on-off button. And his vocal track could've used some reverberation, it sounds a bit awkward sometimes as naked as it is. Sometimes the effects are used just to be there and add to the cheesiness, as in Noldor (Death Winter Reigns).

Basically this is an artistic album of (literally) Tolkien-ish power-folk metal, which ranges from convincing and great work to painfully unconvincing and mediocre (sometimes downright boring) composition. Some tracks are great, some are cheesy, some are boring. That sums up this album. If you're into the power-folk scene, this album is pretty much essential. Otherwise, there are thousands of albums that would be more worth your time. Get this if you're an avid Tolkien fan, I suppose.

Review by Warthur
3 stars Blind Guardian's Nightfall In Middle-Earth finds the band moving out of their comfort zone and doing something a little ambitious - a lavish concept album drawing on the narrative of the Silmarillion, the body of myth and legend penned by Tolkien which forms the backstory to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Whilst many artists find that the concept album format helps add focus and direction to their music, I feel Blind Guardian stumble here.

Firstly, they inject the album with far too many narrative interludes, ruining the flow of the music; secondly, even with the narrative interludes, the plot is extremely hard to follow unless you're already very familiar with the story. In retrospect, they might have had a bit more success if they'd honed things down to focus on a particular story from the Silmarillion rather than trying to take in as much of the whole narrative as they could.

Finally, when it gets right down to it the music on this album is much the same as on any other Blind Guardian album from this period in their career - cheesy power metal with stirring vocal harmonies are the order of the day and there really aren't that many surprises. In short, what you get here is an alright Blind Guardian album bogged down by the band's attempt to add narrative structure.

Review by Modrigue
4 stars Epic in Metal-Earth

What an evolution from their thrashy debut "Battalions of Fear"! With "Nightfall In Middle-Earth", BLIND GUARDIAN found at least the magic formula they were searching for. This sixth studio album is the achievement of the symphonic epic/medieval metal style the band has been crafting during the 90's. The compositions are now complex and refined, with magnificent choirs, majestic soli and powerful orchestrations. The theatrical impression has been enhanced too, with multiple different atmospheres and instruments. Some early fans can regret that the initial rage and direct approach present in the band's first compositions were left aside in favor of more polished sonorities and arrangements. Nevertheless, the music is like no other and still remains impacting.

Instead of "Lord on the Rings", from which most Tolkien's fan musicians draw their inspiration from, "Nightfall In Middle-Earth" is based on the complex "Silmarillion" collection. Each track relates an episode from the story of Middle-Earth, during a particular age. The record alternates songs and short spoken passages, sometimes with a discrete instrumentation. For this review, I will only focus on the "true" songs.

The thundering "Into The Storm" is gorgeous and haunting, it nearly touches perfection. Beginning softly, The medieval ballad "Nightfall" possesses an enchanting melody, whereas the dark "The Curse Of Feanor" contains fulminating guitar interventions. "Blood Tears" alternates calm, sad and violent moments, and is followed by the best track of the disc, "Mirror Mirror". A brilliant evolving song, catchy and powerful, with a slight medieval flavour. Mindblowing!

In contrast, "Noldor" is rather sad. Not the most remarkable track, but nonetheless pleasant. The theatrical "Time Stands Still" is also enjoyable, while "Thorn" is somber and melancholic. Then comes the piano ballad "The Eldar". Original, however a bit cheesy and out of place. Back to life with "When Sorrow Sang", an energetic and slightly gothic song that rocks! The ender "A Dark Chapter" has a middle-eastern feel but is a little hard to follow and finally uneven.

So, is "Nightfall In Middle-Earth" the ultimate symphonic / epic metal album? To be honest, it has a few flaws and I'm not a big fan of repeated spoken interludes (half of the track-list!). Nonetheless, the music is on par with the superb cover art: majestic, elaborated, heroic, complex... Some songs are just breathtaking. More theatrical, less direct than the former opuses, this disc may not instantly appeal to early 80's fans, but what the band lost in spontaneity has been gained in refinement. Unique.

"Nightfall In Middle-Earth" is an essential album of the genre, as well as BLIND GUARDIAN's summit. A treasure in the land of symphonic epic metal!

Review by friso
4 stars The power-metal genre has produced a few albums that could be of particular interest to progressive rock/metal listeners. 'Nightfall in Middle-Earth' is a good example. Blind Guardian, hailing from the Germany, has expanded on the groundwork laid by Helloween and continued to develop their style until this fantasy progressive folk- metal album was recorded in 1998 - based on the Silmarillion by Tolkien. Though the power-metal chops are obviously still there, the music is enriched with folklore melodies, gothic vocal chants, original twin-guitar chops (every song has multiple sections) and some strong song-writing formats. Notably, the use of the pre-chorus in the songs is extremely effective. The fantasy-world feel keeps the songs tied together and the intermissions, with both spoken word and acoustic folk interludes, add to that 'concept' feel. What makes this album a winner though, is the fact that it offers an uninterrupted flow of simply brilliant, catchy songs running up to 'The Elder'. Melodies, atmospheres, rhythm changes, the sheer energy of the vocal performances and those memorable refrains; the band surely is on fire here. I really couldn't pick a favorite.

This album was originally plagued by an awful mixing job. Flat, loud and simply to dense to listen to. In late 2018 the band released a vinyl re-release that was remixed and remastered. This vinyl record sounds a whole lot better! Even the recording of this vinyl to digital sounds way better than the original cd. Another problem I had with this album was the relative weakness of the last few tracks. This problem was also solved by the vinyl, since you can just skip the fourth side of the 2LP. This brings the album down to what it always should have been; that brilliant string of songs and interludes that last for 52 minutes - which is more than enough for me.

By restoring this album the band created - 20 years after its original recording - a really enjoyable masterpiece in a very tricky genre (fantasy inspired power-metal). In 1999 the first Demons & Wizards album was released, a collaboration of Blind Guardian and Iced Earth, which is also a warmly recommended record for listeners of this genre.

Latest members reviews

5 stars 22 tracks on the record but only half of them are real songs. The rest, just short spoken word pieces nicely put into the concept. The story of eternity I should say however the tale itself is based on Tolkien's Silmarillion. Most of the songs pace around subjects like sorrow, grief and time. A ... (read more)

Report this review (#2218846) | Posted by Lore Knowledge | Wednesday, June 5, 2019 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I'd known about Blind Guardian for a long time. I stayed away from them because the thought of a metal band which had a concept album about Middle-Earth sounded hopelessly nerdy. And, furthermore professing enjoyment of or worse fandom for such an enterprise was the fast track to being ostracized ... (read more)

Report this review (#1236752) | Posted by R-A-N-M-A | Wednesday, August 6, 2014 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Nightfall in Middle Earth ? 1998 (3.5/5) Almost 4 stars! 11 ? Best Song: Any of the full songs could do Thus the realms of evil were opened and a gust of vile blackness enveloped the land. I should probably have read the Simarillion before trying to quote it. That first line has absolutely noth ... (read more)

Report this review (#441410) | Posted by Alitare | Sunday, May 1, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This seems to be their most critically claimed album, and to be honest I can kind of see why. But theirs one problem?it's not my favourite. I haven't heard a lot of Blind Guardian albums, but everyone assures me this is their best, but it's not to me. My brother and me have a conflicting side ... (read more)

Report this review (#378051) | Posted by arcane-beautiful | Tuesday, January 11, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This album is not really a prog album, but rather a power metal album. Either way, Blind Guardian is one of my favorite groups, and I don't believe that the band has released a bad album. This is a concept album that tells the story of the Silmarillion by Tolkien. The album features 22 tracks, ... (read more)

Report this review (#294800) | Posted by Mystery | Tuesday, August 17, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars mean...WOW as perfect of an album as you can get? i think so, this album is just so big and epic and everything i could want in a metal album all combined, the vocals in every track is amazing, all instrumentation is killer not one bad song, kept me on the edge of my seat the entire t ... (read more)

Report this review (#282418) | Posted by FarBeyondProg | Monday, May 17, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars As a lover of progressive rock, I don't like Speed/Thrash Metal and I'm not too much interested in Epic-Power Metal. Two years ago I discovered this album of Blind Guardian, a band generally classified into genres mentioned above. It was a big surprise, this album is for me a masterpiece, where ... (read more)

Report this review (#238646) | Posted by prog61 | Friday, September 11, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is one of my progressive albums that I found by examining its art cover and track listing. What such a strange art cover and track listing. I'm truly impressed when I saw it at the first time. Wow, look at that list, 22 tracks in a single record, it must be great. So without a doubt I decided ... (read more)

Report this review (#185571) | Posted by maXmuri | Tuesday, October 14, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars While listening to Blind Guardian's first opus, "Battalions of Fear", I can't help but feel extremely surprised how a band like them could change so much over the years. In the beginning, their music was dominated by the furious riffing and by the fast drumming, all their songs were very thrashy ... (read more)

Report this review (#182207) | Posted by Nhorf | Thursday, September 11, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Well, definitely Blind Guardian does not belong to Progressive, it is pure sample of Power Metal. At the same time rating 4 (Excellent addition to any prog music collection) would be too low to estimate this album, it is in fact Masterpiece and Excellect addition to ANY collection. In my opinion ... (read more)

Report this review (#137464) | Posted by Bratus | Sunday, September 9, 2007 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I don't find Blind Guardian so progressive. They're a great bend, but they belong in Power-metal, surely not here. Anyway I don't like so much this album, which is really long and sometimes also boring. I think their masterpiece is "Imaginations from the other side", one of my favourite metal al ... (read more)

Report this review (#128192) | Posted by paloz | Thursday, July 12, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I choose to give this album 5 stars, because for me, it is the most highly-developed piece of songwriting I have heard in modern (post-1980s) heavy metal. While not progressive in the "traditional" sense (whatever that means), this concept album featuring stories from Tolkien's "The Silmarillion" i ... (read more)

Report this review (#128171) | Posted by puma | Thursday, July 12, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars in fact.this one was my first album of this band.a friend of mine recommended this band.and i was looking for them,when i found the albums,i will say that for the cover i choose this album..the cover say very much of what the hell they play??..this running form my mind while i coming to my house ... (read more)

Report this review (#127971) | Posted by JgX 5 | Monday, July 9, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Finally, I was really longing for the BG addition out here.ANyways... Nightfall in Middle-Earth! So much reasons to enjoy this brilliant (nay!), marvelous album. Being of the schorlaly type fan of Tolkien, I find this interpretation of the Simarillion just mind-blowing. ( And it's the same for ... (read more)

Report this review (#127967) | Posted by Winter_is_Comin | Monday, July 9, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is some extremely catchy power metal with definitely more than a hint of progressiveness. The album's concept is cool and fairly well executed, the mellow moments rock as hard as the rougher stuff, etc. The Curse of Feanor is one of my favorite metal songs; it's catchy, heavy, the vocals soar ... (read more)

Report this review (#127907) | Posted by metalchocobo | Sunday, July 8, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is my favorite power metal album of all time, and with good reason. Blind Guardian take the frilly pomposity of Queen to a whole new level, layering countless vocal tracks and symphonic keyboards over Brian May-worshiping guitars, combining all of this with a story based on Tolkien's "The S ... (read more)

Report this review (#127877) | Posted by DethMaiden | Sunday, July 8, 2007 | Review Permanlink

Post a review of BLIND GUARDIAN "Nightfall In Middle-Earth"

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.