I have to admit, whenever Blind Guardian release a new album I’m excited like a kid at X-mas. So, headphones on and off we go. After the first run, I am, however, a bit disappointed: With the opener “The 9th Wave”, “The Prophecy” and “The Holy Grail”, only three songs stick to my brain. After a few more runs, it’s still the same, I don’t even remember the choruses – they have always been one of the Krefeld (Germany) guys’ strengths.
Now, after 15 or more runs, everything looks different. “Beyond the Red Mirror” has become an opus, which couldn`t be anymore intensive, versatile and complex. The ten songs are dominated by a dark vibe and most of them are fast, hard and aggressive. To get this special atmosphere, Blind Guardian used new sounds, tuned their guitars lower and better integrated the orchestra into the songs (for a better explanation check our interview with guitar player Marcus Siepen).
Meanwhile, I appreciate all ten songs as masterpieces but the songs mentioned above still are the ones with the highest catchiness factor and the single “Twilight of the Gods” is the weakest track (‘weak’ is relative here, it would be one of the best songs on many other albums). Those who give the album time will certainly come to like it and will discover new details every time they listen to it. Everything but easy listening, as Marcus said in the interview.
But I do not give “Beyond the Red Mirror” the best rating, which would be the logical consequence really. Why? First of all, because of the choruses. I have to disagree with Marcus on this point. Many of them are not as catchy as they should be. It has always been a strength of Blind Guardian, but it isn`t here. The second reason is the high intensity – something is clearly missing, a silent moment to take a deep breath. The only quieter song, the piano ballad “Miracle Machine”, is only at position 9, much too late.