BLIND GUARDIAN – The God Machine (2022)
In 1992, BLIND GUARDIAN released ‘Somewhere Far Beyond’, a legendary milestone of German speed metal. Three decades later, their new offering, “The God Machine,” shows how to awaken the furore and power of youth to magical new life. As if they had paid a long overdue visit to the numerous highlights of their career, Blind Guardian appear to be in touch with the ghosts of their own past more than ever.
“The God Machine” fully embraces evolution while honoring the roots. It’s easily Blind Guardian best album in more than 25 years, and that’s simply because they refined songwriting.
You know, power metal isn’t only steam ahead anymore… Blind Guardian understood this and created the most varied album from their career. Sure, still there’s a couple of rapid-fire metallers, but most the songs are melodic metal spiced with imaginative progressive arrangements and vocals done in a ‘classic’ way: Hansi Kürsch sounds a lot like WASP Blackie Lawless here, and that’s a good thing.
When it comes to long-running bands, the question is usually the same: will they go back to what they used to sound like or will they continue to “progress” and move away from their original sound?
By choosing the latter throughout their post ‘Nightfall in Middle Earth’ era, the band turned a few noses along the way but still managed to stand the test of time (what is time?) and survive the odds.
While there’s nothing egregiously wrong with recent albums, fans do tend to favor their earlier material so ”The God Machine” had the arduous job of reuniting the Germans with their most aggressive critics and keeping the loyal squires happy, much like every other record released by them in the 21st century.
Relying once again on several sources of pop culture and literature like The Kingkiller Chronicle, The Witcher, American Gods, Stormlight Archives, and, hell, even Battlestar Galactica, this is one of the most diverse albums Blind Guardian has ever released lyric-wise.
Opening on a good note with “Deliver Us from Evil”, it’s easy enough to see that there was a desire to mix modern with classic. The song is mainly constructed as another testament to the band’s current approach to power metal, but it clearly features old-school elements that we would see more prominently throughout the course of the album. These elements, in fact, are the main ingredients to the most successful material here, when the stripped-down and old-school Blind Guardian is in the spotlight.
Everyone knows that they spend an absurd amount of time on arrangements and choirs, but it’s incredibly undeniable how the most successful and interesting parts of this record are the ones that harken back to a time before they became addicted to multitracking; if I may, to a simpler and less pompous time.
Cases in point are the good “Damnation”, the extremely catchy and awesome “Violent Shadows” and the brutal “Blood of the Elves”, the best track of the record for me. All contain familiar components that will take you back to the 90s golden days.
Outputs like “Life Beyond the Spheres” and “Destiny” serve the purpose of carrying the torch of modern-day Blind Guardian by being somewhat experimental and having orchestrated tempo breaks; ‘At the Edge of Time’ and ‘Beyond the Red Mirror’ enthusiasts will have a lot of fun with these.
I was ready to dislike ‘The God Machine’ based on Blind Guardian’s last endeavors. Instead, I was extremely surprised to see how well they managed to balance old and new, past and present, power and classic melodic metal, and wrap it all into a very good effort.
As so, I can safely say that ‘The God Machine’ is Blind Guardian’s strongest album since ‘Nightfall in Middle Earth’ and is a monumental improvement to their recent history music-wise. An album clearly designed to smash naysayers’ faces in, while reminding the faithful that no one can touch this band when they’re on top form.
Seven years on from the last ‘proper’ Blind Guardian album, Hansi Kürsch and his comrades have located a generous supply of the elixir of youth and have each chugged a few pints of it. Their 11th album is an outright, spine-shattering triumph as a result.
01 – Deliver Us From Evil
02 – Damnation
03 – Secrets Of The American Gods
04 – Violent Shadows
05 – Life Beyond The Spheres
06 – Architects Of Doom
07 – Let It Be No More
08 – Blood Of The Elves
09 – Destiny
Hansi Kürsch (vocal)
André Olbrich (guitars)
Marcus Siepen (guitars)
Frederik Ehmke (drums)
Johan van Stratum (bass)