Power metal is not one of my favorite genres, although I enjoy quite a bit of it. Blind Guardian is one of the bands that I really like, having gotten into them through my best friend. The band is one of the pioneering power metal bands, being influenced by groups like Iron Maiden and Helloween. The Blind Guardian of today though is not nearly as fast as they once were, those elements have been replaced by continued progression.
This album is a bit of a return to the faster Blind Guardian albums of the past, but still not a return to their earliest albums. But speed is not necessary when the band is as good as Blind Guardian at writing interesting albums with catchy songs. There is a reason that Blind Guardian is at the forefront of the power metal genre. The band has simply never recorded a bad album. This one is no exception, featuring some truly great songs.
There is some increased experimentation with orchestras on this album. There are several parts with lots of string instruments playing along with the main riffs. This does not have the effect of sounding cheesy at all, in fact it is very well done. Blind Guardian has always sounded somewhat classical anyway, so the additions of the string instruments add to that sound.
The lyrics of course deal with fantasy elements. Blind Guardian is well-known as being major fans of Tolkien and other fantasy stories and dress as medieval minstrels for their stage show. So, if you like your metal brutal as fuck, stay away from this one. I am not a huge fantasy fan, but Blind Guardian's albums are so good that I have no problem with the lyrical subject matter. Besides, I do enjoy the Lord of the Rings movies.
Blind Guardian keeps trudging along on this one. I will say that it's the best Blind Guardian album in years. Although I do not have a lot to compare it to, having only heard one of their albums from the last ten years as I prefer their earlier material. It was better than A Twist in the Myth though, so that counts for something. This really is a very good power metal album, so if you enjoy the genre, check it out.