Blind Guardian Twilight Orchestra // Legacy of the Dark Lands // Album Review
Blind Guardian Twilight Orchestra // Legacy of the Dark Lands // Album Review 10
Blind Guardian Twilight Orchestra // Legacy of the Dark Lands // Album Review 10
Blind Guardian Twilight Orchestra // Legacy of the Dark Lands // Album Review 10
Blind Guardian Twilight Orchestra // Legacy of the Dark Lands // Album Review 10
Blind Guardian Twilight Orchestra // Legacy of the Dark Lands // Album Review 10
10Overall Score
Reader Rating: (10 Votes)
8.3

Two decades after its original conception within the minds of Hansi Kürsch and André Olbrich, Blind Guardian’s Twilight Orchestra Legacy of the Dark Lands finally arrives to be feasted upon by those brave enough to devour it.

    A true epic in the literal sense of the word, Legacy of the Dark Lands deserves a place in creative history as one of the most ambitious undertakings to ever be executed, and masterfully so nonetheless. The Blind Guardian maestros, deserving of that title now if not before, have conceived and brought to life a project so monumental as to be staggeringly impressive. It is more than just an album of music.

    A joint project between the band and German fantasy author Markus Heitz, Legacy of the Dark Lands is the second part of a tale that chronicles the adventures of Aenlin Kane, daughter of Solomon Kane (of legendary Conan the Barbarian author Robert Howard fame), as she and her band of misadventurers traverse through a ravaged central Europe during the Thirty Years War. Her ultimate goal is to find her father’s treasure and her legacy, while dark secrets flourish and evil shows no mercy. The first part of the story and the contextual foundation of the album’s narrative is delivered through Heitz’s fantasy novel Die Dunklen Lande, recently translated into English as The Dark Lands.

Legacy of the Dark Lands consists of eleven gargantuan tracks, sumptuously blanketed by an overture and twelve immersive, engrossing, atmospheric voice-acted spoken-word sections that propel the story along, providing breathing space and time to digest the mighty chunks of music and stunningly performed vocals that make Legacy so memorable. 

    For orchestration, Kürsch and Olbrich worked with the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra to transform their imaginative fantasy into sensational reality, with the help of Vox Futura’s accompanying choir that compliments chaotic crescendos and adulates assiduous arias, alike. Excellently gripping and believable voice actors deliver convincing passages that tie the story together in a bow of verisimilitude. Eagle-eared Blind Guardian fans will recognise the return of Norman Eshley and Douglas Fielding, narrators of 1998’s Nightfall in Middle Earth.

    Consistent and cohesive, once you fall into the musical and narrative twists and turns of the Dark Lands, it is difficult to escape its lush, enthralling grasp. And that’s if you want to. Designed to be an experience that demands your focus and attention to actively follow the journey it takes you on, this is no casual listening for the car or the gym, even if some tracks including ‘Dark Clouds Rising’, ‘The Great Ordeal’, and ‘Point of No Return’ have passages heroic enough to push you through another few reps.

    This should be experienced in the same way a novel or film should; from start to finish with imaginative involvement and total immersion free from distraction. The opening ‘1618 Ouverture’ takes its time to create the atmosphere needed for the experience, adding layer upon delicate layer of instrumentation to aurally paint the marching and destruction of a battle, culminating in a crescendo of frenetic strings, horns, battle drums and explosions before giving way to ‘The Gathering’, the first narrative conversation that includes the line, “We are what we are,” which happens to capture the album’s unapologetic stance in the face of being unconventional. It is this unconventionality alongside resolute ambition that sets Legacy of the Dark Lands aside from other orchestral side-projects from metal bands, one comparison being Metallica’s two symphony orchestra concerts. 

    The range, power, and versatility of Hansi Kürsch’s vocal capabilities are on full display throughout the album, and indeed his performance is arguably the most impressive individual component of all if one was forced to select from the near-endless gifts found within. Stand-out track ‘Point of No Return’ is a showcase example of his talent, as he melodiously gallops through lines such as, “Come along, come along, come along with me,” before his voice soars above the music to unforgettably lament, “These wars we fight, conceal all light,” and his defiant, mountain-strong delivery of “This is the point of no return” is a chorus that will stick in the mind for a long time. 

Admittedly not for everyone, and potentially gravely disappointing for traditional Blind Guardian fans who are expecting the usual power metal experience, there is no denying that with its concept, ambition, scope, scale, cohesion, and masterful execution, Legacy of the Dark Lands is an unparalleled achievement, and time will tell where it shall stand in the ever-enduring legacy of Blind Guardian’s musical geniuses, Hansi Kürsch and André Olbrich. Considering it truly gets better with each subsequent listen as more intricacies and complexities are revealed, it deserves a place at the top.

Blind Guardian’s Twilight Orchestra Legacy of the Dark Lands is available for purchase Nov 15th in multiple formats from Nuclear Blast, .

Review: Mark Russell 

Tracklist:

01. 1618 Ouverture 2:37
02. The Gathering 1:22
03. War Feeds War 5:05
04. Comets And Prophecies 1:12

05. Dark Cloud’s Rising 5:11

06. The Ritual 0:52
07. In the Underworld 5:50
08. A Secret Society 0:25
09. The Great Ordeal 4:55
10. Bez 0:22
11. In the Red Dwarf’s Tower 7:03

12. Into the Battle 0:26
13. Treason 4:21
14. Between the Realms 0:48
15. Point of No Return 6:37
16. The White Horseman 0:50
17. Nephilim 5:06
18. Trial And Coronation 0:27
19. Harvester of Souls7:17

20. Conquest Is Over 1:21

21. This Storm 4:47
22. The Great Assault 0:27

23. Beyond the Wall 7:07

24. A New Beginning 0:47

 

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