Like most suburban middle class American kids camping was a rather regular part of my summertime curriculum. And like most camp outs in the middle of the woods a campfire was built at night and around it we sat telling ghost stories, roasting hot dogs, and making smores. Those times are some of my favorite childhood memories, though not as cherished as they should be. You see, there was always this one kid, let’s call him Little Billy, who really had a knack for crafting these really dark takes on the classics. Instead of the man with the hook for a hand popping up behind the campers, Billy took it steps further and had the hook-handed man brutally bludgeon the camper, pop their eyes out with the hook, and suffocate on broken glass. Then usually the camp chaperone would interrupt and end Little Billy’s macabre imagination.
Turns out Little Billy came from an abusive home filled with alcoholism, schizophrenia, and drugs. This I never learned about until I opened the paper one day saw an article about how Little Billy had gotten drunk, beaten his girlfriend to death, and then took his own life. Mutual friends and acquaintances filled me in on Billy’s childhood and my mind immediately recalled those horrible stories he would tell around the campfire. Since then, I have never been able to look back on those memories the same. Stuff like this is what I consider true horror.
“It sounds like a ‘insert the same band name as the album here’ album.” In my years as a metal fan and hobbyist writer I have heard and lazily used that phrase way too often. An Amon Amarth, Primus, Slayer, Tool (one can keep dreaming right?) new album pops up, a quick sum up is requested, and that phrase gets the point across to existing fans quick enough. It can be a good thing as well as bad. Sure it says that the pedigree of quality is there but also doesn’t take into account any forward (or backward) progress in the bands unique, established sound may have undergone. Yet after listening to the newly minted release, Beyond the Red Mirror, from German heart-throbs Blind Guardian I honestly can’t think of a better way to describe it summarily. It sounds exactly like what you would expect a Blind Guardian album to sound like. Though, allow me to explore that statement just a tad deeper.
A rather lengthy update on Blind Guardian‘s website has brought more light to the long awaited orchestral album that the Bards have been teasing us fans with for what seems like a lifetime. According to Hansi Kürsch they have enlisted the help of German high fantasy author Markus Heitz to help write the story and help build the concept to the album. Mr. Heitz has gained acclaim in the realm of fantasy literature with his novel The Dwarves(Die Zwerge in its original language) series. Personally I have not read anything by him yet, but have seen his novels readily available. I guess my ignorance of his work will be changing very soon, authors suggested by Blind Guardian have always been good recommendations(if not for the Bards I would have never picked up George R.R. Martin, my now favorite author).
Blind Guardian says that they feel really comfortable working with Markus because he is already very familiar with their music and is as a large of a nerd as the Bards themselves as they both grew up in the fantasy scene reading many similar books and playing the same role playing games in the 80’s and 90’s. Because of the same shared passionate interests Blind Guardian and Markus have an easy time time exchanging ideas and concepts.
I for one am really excited for this project to finally come to fruition as they have been teasing us with it for many a year now. Some of my favorite Blind Guardian work was when they worked with a full orchestra(yup, I was one of those people who loved A Night at the Opera) and if there’s one band that can pull of an orchestral fantasy album there is no better band to do it than Blind Guardian(Rhapsody of Fire, maybe). They are expecting the album to come to fruition some time in 2013, it seems like a lifetime away, but I have a good feeling it will be worth the wait.
Your can read the announcement letter here.