Tag Archives: Nightfall in Middle-Earth

Power Metal Artwork of the Day – Blind Guardian

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And to finish out the week, an arguable classic slice of European Power Metal – with sleeve art almost precision designed to irk the irksome, traumatise tiresome hipsters and cause kvlt elitists to kvetch.

Germany’s Blind Guardian are perhaps best described as occupying a space somewhere between Iron Maiden, Helloween and – I guess – Dream Theater.  We’re talking songs directly inspired by double-bass drums played at a hundred miles an hour, proggy time signatures and lyrics directly referencing fantasy literature, as amply demonstrated by an album which many fans would claim as their favourite – the J.R.R. Tolkien/”Silmarillion“-inspired Nightfall in Middle-Earth.

To the artwork – it’s a painting of Luthien dancing in front of Morgoth, painted by Andreas Marshall.  I confess to having something a blind spot for Tolkien’s novels, something which I propose to address in the near future via the medium of a series on the blog – is it ambitious to read “The Hobbit” and the whole “Lord of the Rings” cycle before part one of Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit” opens at the end of the year?  I like to think not, but I’m ever one for taking on challenges which ask more than I can reasonably cope with.  It’s an epic fantasy thing, people – realise…

What the cover doesn’t capture is just how delightfully cheesy the spoken word portions of the album are – for viewers used to the earnest storytelling of the Jackson cinematic trilogy, this album’s (let’s be honest) amateur dramatic performance of the Tolkien material is a splendid thing.

 And it’s a killer record – if you like your heavy metal to be bold, powerful, driving and unabashedly unfashionable, Blind Guardian do this kind of stuff better than anybody else.  If your new D&D campaign needs a stirring musical accompaniment to really get those 20-sided die flying, you need this record on your iPod/stereo pronto…

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Cultural Endeavours for May 4th 2012

It’s a long holiday weekend in the UK and that can mean only one thing – it’s time to avoid DIY and that kind of soul-sucking stuff  and leap wildly into the ready, saucy arms of music, books and films.

“The Dwarves” by Markus Heitz – no, that’s not my purse in the top right of the picture.

First up, Markus Heitz’s epic fantasy novel “The Dwarves”, which vaulted to the top of my reading list when I read that he was collaborating with Blind Guardian on the story for their next album.  As I’m currently devouring Blind Guardian’s back catalogue at a rate of knots, this novel seemed like a no-brainer for me.  736 pages of adventure for foundling Dwarf Tungdil, whose solitary status in the land of men is challenged when he’s tasked to venture into a wider world and meet his own kind for the first time, finding himself thrust into dangers and a threat to his race quite unlike anything he’s ever known.

In short?  European high fantasy – I’m all over it.

On a entirely related tip, cast your peepers over this duopoly of bad assery:

Blind GuardianImaginations from the Other Side

Blind Guardian – “Somewhere Far Beyond

And, yes, you do score a multitude of Special Internet Points if you resisted the urge to look at either of the Blind Guardian CD cover artworks and yell Tolkien at the top of your voice.  Kudos to you!

The albums date from – consults Wikipedia discography – 1992 (“Somewhere Far Beyond”) and 1995 (Imaginations From The Other Side) and pre-date what is many fans favourite BG release, 1998’s concept-themed breakthrough album, Nightfall in Middle-Earth.  Knock yourself out – yell “Tolkien” all you like when it comes to that record…

So, that’s my weekend – I may try to sneak in a viewing of “Night Watch”, too, as I’ve been reading the books – and I hope that yours is equally pleasant, be it spent with your family, friends or some combination thereof.  Just remember – keep it geeky, peeps…

 

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