REVIEW: Blind Guardian – The God Machine

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It’s been a while since we’ve been able to enjoy pure BLIND GUARDIAN. If you don’t count BLIND GUARDIAN TWILIGHT ORCHESTRA‘s Legacy of the Dark Lands,” the band hasn’t released an album since their 2015 release, Beyond the Red Mirror.” Thankfully, the German power metal act are now ready to release their brand new album, “The God Machine,” on September 2nd, 2022, via Nuclear Blast Records. Let’s dive in and see whether it was worth the wait!

Check out our interview with André Olbrich here!

The album starts off with “Deliver Us From Evil.” With its blazing speed and heavy riffs, the song balances well between that sweet spot of the old BLIND GUARDIAN and their modern discography. The excellent guitar solo is a perfect showcase that this album is more straightforward than its predecessors, focusing mostly on the band’s sound; perhaps stripped-down but still embedded with Hansi‘s trademark multi-layered choirs. Continuing with “Damnation,” the album takes a more dramatic turn with an impressive chorus. On top of that, the track holds a lot of amazingly warm-sounding guitar melodies and takes us back to a more speed metal-oriented sound.

One of the first tracks the band wrote for this album was also released as a single: “Secrets of the American Gods.” By now, we’ve had a lot of time to get used to it; however, at first, it was hard to get into because, while it starts off with a beautifully orchestrated atmospheric intro, the song doesn’t hold back on extravaganza and is perhaps the most dynamic and bombastic song on the record. Yet, I doubt we have to tell anyone about how, after a few spins, we ended up singing along with the chorus very passionately due to its incredibly hooky choruses. We then heard “Violent Shadows” for the first time during the Wacken World Wide streaming performance and I remember distinctly being totally blown away by this track, offering a little bit of hope during trying times for the world. It was the first proof the band would bring in more aggressive elements and go back to that speed metal sound of the beginning. All rejoiced! Hearing the fine-tuned product on the full-length album only adds to that experience.

“Life Beyond the Spheres” contains some of my favorite guitar passages from “The God Machine.” The modern-sounding song’s instrumental track was heavily influenced by cyberpunk according to guitarist André Olbrich. While the influences are sort of subtle, he was right that it delivered a creative rendition of their sound, with lots of new elements to enjoy – cyberpunk meets BLIND GUARDIAN means lots of atmospheric elements were added into the mix, creating an altogether progressive feel. Mind you, I’ve been reading different opinions about this track, so if you’re not that much into proggy things, this might not be for you… but the next track might be! The more tradition “Architects of Doom” has a really epic intro that will serve its purpose beautifully in a live show. This track is proof of how this record is truly diverse at its best. While, for instance, “Life Beyond the Spheres” was an experimental, progressive, and intense song, “Architects of Doom” focuses on a heavier sound with very thrashy riffs, incredible tempo changes, and explorative drumming. The verses are fast and to the point, yet the chorus brings down the tempo a little bit. Moreover, the guitar solos are BLIND GUARDIAN at their best, due to a somehow very nostalgic approach.

The atmosphere shifts a little with “Let It Be No More,” starting off fairly minimal with a guitar melody, some subtle background rhythms, and Hansi‘s emotive voice. Generally, I’m not one for ballads or slower songs, but this track hits a sweet spot for me. It’s the kind of song which makes you pull out your lighter or phone’s flashlight on a warm festival night among tens of thousands of like-minded people – atmospheric, epic, and dramatic. In our interview with André Olbrich, he mentioned that he used a ’70s guitar sound for this record, which leaves the singer more space to shine… this song is the perfect example of that!

“Blood of the Elves” couldn’t have been placed better after the album’s ballad. This speedy, thrashy song is one of the definite highlights of “The God Machine.” The chorus is wonderfully catchy and – according to our interview – is proof of the wonderful chemistry between Hansi Kürsch and André Olbrich, having had a few differences in their approach to the chorus. Ladies and gentlemen, remember to warm up your neck before listening to this album, this song’s a heavy-hitter and will leave you with sore muscles if you don’t!

The previously mentioned ’70s sound is really clear in “Destiny”; while you’d expect the album’s last track to be a more heavily orchestrated epic, this song simply starts off with a classic hard rock/heavy metal feel to it and then along the way, the band blends in more progressive elements, making it – together with “Life Beyond the Spheres” – one of the more experimental tracks on the record and a ballsy way to end the album.

Seldom are there moments in BLIND GUARDIAN‘s history that brings both old and new fans together as one. Apart from screaming along to “Walhalla” at their shows and steadily singing it together until well after their performances, “The God Machine” might be the next best thing that gathers them and unites them as one. The album manages to find a modern approach in blending in different elements from the band’s career, while still being explorative and innovative enough to write groundbreaking material. Those who are still yet to discover the band’s plentiful discography might find “The God Machine” an easy album to get into their material, since it’s easily one of their best outings since “Nightfall In Middle Earth“; an essential for every BLIND GUARDIAN fan!

Tracklist

1. Deliver Us from Evil
2. Damnation
3. Secrets of the American Gods
4. Violent Shadows
5. Life Beyond the Spheres
6. Architects of Doom
7. Let It Be No More
8. Blood of the Elves
9. Destiny

Lineup

Hansi Kürsch – vocals
André Olbrich – lead guitars
Marcus Siepen – rhythm guitars
Frederik Ehmke – drums
Johan van Stratum – bass

Label

Nuclear Blast Records

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