Sometimes it is impossible to think that BLIND GUARDIAN’s “Somewhere Far Beyond” is now two decades old and celebrating its 30th anniversary. This June 29th, 1992, release was a pleasant addition to the summer. The fourth studio album was the next step we were all waiting for. It took four albums to get there, but the fourth time proved to be the charm. This album serves as a major transition for the band. BLIND GUARDIAN is one of the few bands whose ideas and progress are clearly visible, and they consistently surprise listeners with their style. “Somewhere Far Beyond” is the first full-fledged transition record. This and their subsequent albums would be a hybrid of their old speed metal style and their future pure epic power metal approach. This one, I’d say, leans more towards the speed metal style still, but shows the band’s future sound in its epic moments.
The album’s opening, “Time What Is Time,” was really the right way to start the album, since it’s a wonderful blend of talents and lets the audience know precisely what to anticipate. It starts with a stirring and lovely acoustic opening before blasting ahead with their trademark speed and power. The song’s riffs are snappy and aggressive, although much of their older material grows old and boring rather quickly. The keyboards nicely lift the low register of the guitars, and the chorus is an eruption of strength. Similarly, “Theatre of Pain” is one of those tracks that still to this day pleases power metal enthusiasts, but will also tickle those who liked the old style.
Now, we cannot talk about this album without mentioning “The Bard’s Song – In the Forest,” known as simply “The Bard’s Song” by fans, while the following track is referred to as “The Hobbit,” despite the band never making any official change to the titles. BLIND GUARDIAN shine in this track and know that they could easily take you to the fantasy world of any book. Every word and every note is a masterclass in storytelling. This song is a BLIND GUARDIAN legacy and pays homage to what both they and their fans love so much, all in one magical song.
“The Quest for Tanelorn” is another song where everything feels good musically. The song begins with an acoustic intro, but unlike previously, the song builds to its heaviness rather than exploding with it. Vocalist Hansi Kürsch incorporates soaring vocals, rough lower notes, high shouts, and chanting into this track. The solo is similarly catchy and memorable, which helps to explain why so much of this song is unforgettable. The ending is a lovely reprise of the chorus, with Hansi adlibbing powerfully over it until a melodious and fulfilling conclusion.
In the song “Journey Through the Dark,” the lead guitar work is again very memorable; however, the band relies on that tired chugging over a reused speed metal beat to get the point across. Overall, there’s just not enough happening in this song, and it feels like we’ve all heard it all somewhere before, or perhaps somewhere far beyond. “Ashes to Ashes” has a much more impressive mood and agenda to it. Hansi’s bass work is exceptional and very powerful on this track, and both the guitar work and the verse lines have this chilling, spooky, yet frenzied energy.
The album’s last song is also the title track, “Somewhere Far Beyond,” which plays around with an interesting idea: bring a more classical sound to speed metal. By doing so, this track sets BLIND GUARDIAN on course to experiment even further down the line with what they can do with metal.
“Somewhere Far Beyond” is a genuine culmination of everything BLIND GUARDIAN has been working towards since they started. For those that aren’t that into strict power metal, we can definitely see why these guys may not have been for you. However, from this point forward, BLIND GUARDIAN would start to take more and more time between each record to make sure they were all up to par. They’d quickly become known as a band that only released a few albums each decade. There have been many great albums released since, but there’s no doubt that this was their first flirtation with greatness.
Written by Peter Jerman
- Time What Is Time
- Journey Through The Dark
- Black Chamber
- Theatre Of Pain
- The Quest For Tanelorn
- Ashes To Ashes
- The Bard’s Song: In The Forest
- The Bard’s Song: The Hobbit
- The Piper’s Calling
- Somewhere Far Beyond
Bonus tracks on 1992 & 2007 CD releases:
- Spread Your Wings (4:15)
- Trial by Fire (3:44)
- Theatre of Pain (classic version) (4:14)
Extra bonus tracks on 2007 remaster:
- Ashes To Ashes (Demo) (4:15)
- Time What Is Time (Demo) (5:39)
Hansi Kürsch – lead vocals, bass
André Olbrich – lead, rhythm & acoustic guitars, backing vocals
Marcus Siepen – rhythm & acoustic guitars, backing vocals
Thomas Stauch – drums
Piet Sielck – guitar, effects
Kai Hansen – guitar solo (5)
Stefan Will – piano
Peter Rübsam – bagpipes
Mathias Wiesner – bass & effects (11)
Kalle Trapp – backing vocals, producer & mixing
Rolf Köhler – backing vocals
Billy King – backing vocals