by Penelope Tritou & Giorgos Tsekas
30 years ago Blind Guardian was a promising band that had all eyes upon their brilliant and full of inspiration, yet not so far from basic -if not generic- power/speed albums. Their 4th studio was more than just crucial. Their previous effort was “Tales From The Twilight World” (1991) that was more than just encouraging and being definitely a sign of future success that was coming…and thankfully Somewhere Far Beyond turned to be the one that launched like a rocket their career and transformed them into a big band. The LP was the amalgam of all of their charisma; the excellent songwriting, the catchy sing-a-long choruses, the melodic parts, the emotional performance, the thirst, the post-thrash speed guitars, the Queen-like rock opera influences, the power-chord riffs, the love for phantasy movies and literature, the solid drumming by Thomas Stauch, the blazing guitar solos, the folk elements, the Moorcock and Tolkien references, the creativity and passion of these 4 guys from Krefeld, North Rhine-Westphalia and printed in vinyl. Wrapped in a marvelous artwork cover designed by Andreas Marschall, who also drew the artwork for other Blind Guardian’s releases before and after Somewhere Far Beyond (Tales from the Twilight World, Nightfall in Middle-Earth, etc.), the album marks the new era of the band, that now had its own unique style. Speaking of the album’s cover art, it is it along with the two «Bard’s Songs» that gave the band its nickname «The Bards». The use of the nickname has been also extended to the fans of the group, Circle of the Bards being the now defunct fan club, while Hansi Kürsch frequently calling their fans «Bards».
It was a big hit at its time and still has a big impact in all fans of Power and Heavy Metal still now. But how would this album fail when it features so many great songs? It would be really impossible…
«Time What Is Time» is a dazzling opener (with a strange acoustic guitar intro before the thrash riff bangs you) inspired intro that deals about the film Blade Runner (Blade Runner is a 1982 science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott, starring Harrison Ford and it is an adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?) from the perspective of a Replicant. Full of energy and tempo changes is a highlight of their career.
«Journey Through the Dark» is about Jhary a-Conel, a bard and a companion of the Eternal Champion, from the books by Michael Moorcock. It is dark, fast, and aggressive with a ton of riffs as André Olbrich (lead guitar) and Marcus Siepen (rhythm guitar) complement each other perfectly. A fans favorite that scream its chorus every time they playing it live.
«Black Chamber» deals with someone finding himself in the Twin Peaks world and facing a dark fate. You can sound emotional, somber and touching in only one minute. A very Queen moment…
«Theatre of Pain» features Kai Hansen from Gamma Ray/ Helloween playing lead guitar as a guest musician and it follows the same path as things get a little slower, and it is based on the fantasy novel The Merman’s Children by Poul Anderson. This mid-tempo semi ballad gives a breath to the listener with its simplicity and leads to another midpaced song, «The Quest for Tanelorn» which is another Moorcock inspired hymn. The track with the progressive structure deals about the Eternal Champion’s search for a city called Tanelorn, a fictional city in The Multiverse of Michael Moorcock’s stories. And this is how the A’ side closes, with a dreamy, imaginary story.
B’side starts with rhythms’ again speed up. «Ashes to Ashes» is a rude awakening to reality. The song is based on reality; it has to do with the death of Hansi’s father.
«The Bard’s Song – In the Forest» is inspired by the computer game The Bard’s Tale. How many times this song has been sung loudly by their fans in the stages Blind Guardian was around the world? It is one of the best folk ballads out there; an ambitious composition with acoustic guitars and full of emotions.
«The Bard’s Song – The Hobbit» is darker and it is based on J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. Another chilling passage in an album which tracks isn’t based only in high velocity. The atmosphere is majestic, capturing the aura of the lost art of storytelling around fire with a catchy guitar melody. «The Piper’s Calling» contains the first three parts of the Great Highland Bagpipe 2/4 March, «The 79th’s Farewell to Gibraltar», written by Pipe Major John MacDonald of the 79th Regiment of Foot (Cameronian Volunteers). Part of this composition also appears as a section of the title track, this time played on a different type of bagpipe. The album closes empathically with the title track. «Somewhere Far Beyond» is a retelling of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger and The Drawing of the Three. An over 7 minutes long epic power metal song, with furious melodies, raging vocals and angry guitars. Hansi is performing outstanding with his characteristic German accent.
“Somewhere far beyond/The march of time it has begun
Somewhere far beyond your reality/And then the march of time begins”
An astonishing, very important and very essential album for European metal, a now considered to be classic, that it was released in 29.06.1992 (and produced by Kalle Trapp) via Virgin Records.