Blind Guardian – The God Machine

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Blind Guardian - The God Machine
Blind Guardian – The God Machine

Reviewed: October 2022
Released: 2022, Nuclear Blast
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Simon Wiedemann

Blind Guardian are a power metal/speed metal band from Germany, who released their 12th album, ‘The God Machine’, on September 2nd, 2022 through Nuclear Blast. They are considered one of the most important bands in their genres and most of their projects have been well received by critics and fans. They formed way back in 1984 under the name of ‘Lucifer’s Heritage’ but changed their name in 1988. A good move – there are enough devil references in metal! Their lyrics are largely inspired by fantasy writers such as J. R. R. Tolkien and the musicians like to think of themselves as travelling storytellers. 

One of the first things I noticed when listening to this album, is that the singer’s voice has aged little (which is good if you’re young or at least if you enjoy acting like you are, like me) since the band’s 1990 release ’Tales from the Twilight World’, and he has kept a very similar style. (The albums prior to that sometimes have a more clean rather than raspy delivery). Again similarly to previous albums, you get plenty of speed picked riffs that have thrash and more melodic power metal/neoclassical metal ideas, combined with frequent proggy tempo changes that often come out of nowhere. (They’re pleasant surprises rather than musical ‘birthday socks’ if you will. As I said, I’m immature if not fully silly). Those melodic vocals on top of the riffs add more sophisticated layers than lesser bands, they don’t simply mimic the instruments, far from it. They’re not opera metal in complexity (e.g. Epica), rather BG are in an accessible middle ground. Slower tempos also have their moments. They are reasonably heavy and ever so slightly spooky at times, but not in a particularly threatening way, but more of a relatively light, good time way.

In comparison, it’s like seeing a man dressed as a reasonably convincing ghost, rather than a man genuinely coming at you with a chainsaw. (That’s more of a Mayhem thing). At BG concerts, I’m picturing people drinking beer and head banging, rather than watching the musicians attack each other and cry. The lead guitars too haven’t changed much at all and have a distinctive BG style, but subtle hints of Steve Vai maybe can be heard in the vibrato. They’re certainly nowhere as flashy and creative as the virtuoso’s leads though, again, they have that not so serious power metal fun. Having said that, many of the chord progressions are actually well thought out and serious. Well, semi-serious. The honest (well relatively honest, there are no noticeable mistakes heard from the musicians) yet very clear production is similar to past releases too. It’s good production, but it’s not so fantastic it simply HAS to be repeated.

So yeah, for better or for worse, the band haven’t really done anything too new with their sound on the whole, since leaving the purer thrash metal of the late 80s behind. If you’re a fan of Blind Guardian and want more of the same, you will get a lot out of the album, but it may not interest more causal fans. Are there any expert vocal melodies in the LP that rival classic era ‘Imaginations from the Other Side’? In particular, their song ‘Bright Eyes’? And are there any beautifully composed folky moments such as in their track ‘A Past and Future Secret’? First: Not REALLY, second: No. You get clean and soft moments in the album, sure, but none of that mystical medieval stuff. The album is very good for what it is – power metal that isn’t too concerned with pushing boundaries at the risk of sounding weird – but the songwriting could be perceived as a little on the lazy side. However, it IS recommended. In comparison, bands like Megadeth are perfectly happy releasing the same kind of stuff, and their fans are more than happy, too. So… what’s the problem? Maybe there isn’t one, so at least check some of it out by watching the video!


Video:


Tracklisting:
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

Band line-up:
Hansi Kursch – lead vocals
Andre Olbrich – lead guitar, backing vocals
Marcus Siepen – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Frederik Ehmke – drums, percussion, flute, bagpipes
Johan van Stratum – bass

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