Blind Guardian Biography
Having risen to the top of the power metal world, Blind Guardian have become so much more than that; the band have become recognized simply as a musical group whose emotion-packed music written with vivid imagination has attracted fans of all walks of life. While it's normal to hear that "they are big in Europe and Japan" about bands like this, it can be said they are on their way to being huge stars in North America as well-and that's a rarity in the normally unfriendly (towards melodic metal) American market. With little press, no radio and lack of major record store chain support, Blind Guardian have quietly sold a very respectable amount of units. Virtually through word-of-mouth, Blind Guardian have developed a rabid fanbase that buy every release, every import and every bootleg they can find as soon as it is available. Looking for the next big thing? It's already here, and it started in the small town of Krefeld, Germany...
Originating under the name Lucifer's Heritage, the group soon changed their name to Blind Guardian and released two demos, titled Symphonies Of Doom (1986) and Battalions Of Fear (1987), which garnered them a deal with No Remorse Records. Their 1988 debut album Battalions Of Fear, produced by Kalle Trapp (Saxon, Grave Digger) was received with great respect among the heavy metal underground due to its uncompromising mix of speed and power metal with classic elements. In 1989 Follow The Blind, also produced by Kalle Trapp, saw Blind Guardian experiment using orchestral parts for the first time. This recording also introduced the band to Japan where it stayed high on the import charts for many months. With two highly praised releases now under their belt, the act knew the third one was crucial to their success and could very well raise them from the underground. In Germany, Tales From The Twilight World sold 30,000 copies in no time and thus marked the band's breakthrough in their home country. The group's continued evolution saw them utilize more classical and orchestral elements, perhaps in the process making their brilliant music more accessible to a broader fan base. These evolutionary steps intermixed with the band's speed and power would become their trademark sound. Their acclaimed music, along with their impressive sales, had labels across Europe courting the band. The act did sign with a larger label, but not the typical step up to a well-known independent label; 1992 Blind Guardian signed with Virgin Records, making them one of the very few power metal bands to be signed to a major label. Although not officially released in America, Somewhere Far Beyond quickly sold 130,000 copies worldwide and resulted in their first trip to Japan a year later where a live album was recorded. The live album, Tokyo Tales (1993), proved that Blind Guardian had matured internationally as on this very first tour of Japan they played sold-out venues of over 2,500 people a night. In the summer of 1994, they journeyed to Copenhagen's Sweet Silence studios to record Imaginations From The Other Side with world-renowned producer Flemming (Metallica's Master Of Puppets and Ride The Lightning)) Rasmussen. This turned out to be their most mature work to date. Even though success is usually celebrated by simply putting out 'best of' albums, Blind Guardian chose a different way. Instead of making their fans spend money on well-known stuff, they went to the trouble to offer something special. In the spring of 1996 the band released Forgotten Tales, which contains some cover songs, a live track, four acoustic songs, and one orchestral version of previous Blind Guardian songs.
Having spent over two years in the making, the band's musical genius continued on Nightfall In Middle-Earth (1998). Once again with the help of Flemming Rasmussen (mixing and engineering), the group created a finely sculpted concept album based on JRR Tolkien's The Silmarillion. Although technically twenty-two tracks, there are eleven songs on this release that vary from the rage of uncontrolled power, speed, opulent epic orchestral sequences and softer, acoustic renaissance-type parts. The interlude tracks are intricately woven with troubadour singing, minnesinger, spoken words and flute and violin arrangements to evoke a powerful atmosphere to complement the songs. This release helped Blind Guardian conquer another foe--the American market. Finally on this record the band, through Century Media Records, would see an official American release. Fans across the North American continent rejoiced at the thought of no longer paying the atrociously high import price, let alone actually finding the record in stores. A year after it had come out in Europe, Nightfall In Middle-Earth hit the stores in North America and sold an amazing 20,000 units. The label quickly made available Imaginations From The Other Side, Somewhere Far Beyond and Tales From The Twilight World, all of which sold a near equal amount as Nightfall.
After a short interlude in which vocalist Hansi Kürsch joined up with Iced Earth guitarist Jon Schaffer on the highly celebrated Demons And Wizards project, the band got back to work writing and recording. After nearly two years, a partial sample of this hard work was released in the form of "And Then There Was Silence" - a fourteen-minute epic, released as a prelude to A Night At The Opera. Produced by Charlie Bauerfeind (Angra, Helloween, Gamma Ray) at Twilight Hall Studios in Grefrath-Oedt, Germany (as was the rest of the full-length), "And Then There Was Silence" took four months to record using more than 128 tracks, including fifty for the vocals and thirty for the guitars. The single arrived to rave reviews, and hit the top ten singles charts in Spain, Canada, Germany and Japan. Having kept the fans waiting long enough, the band's monumental new release, A Night At The Opera, is now here! An explosive effort that's filled with dramatic storytelling and seldom-paralleled musical talents, A Night At The Opera will more than satisfy the band's current fans and draw in new ones with its polished sound and emotion-drenched musical barrage. Blind Guardian have always presented a large variety of fast songs, slow songs and big, classical opera-influenced songs with larger-than-life choruses - all of which are fully represented here. "Punishment Divine" will pummel fans with its thunderous double-bass and driving guitars-all set to an incredible hook, and an even better chorus. Fans of the Dragonlance saga should pay particular attention to "The Soulforged," a foot-stomping anthem to the series' most infamous character, Raistlin Majere. Of course a Blind Guardian recording wouldn't be complete without a lighter-waving sing-along ballad, and the group serves one up in grand fashion with "The Maiden And The Minstrel Knight." The band have had an incredible career so far, breaking down barriers and taking their music to a level achieved by few musicians. Blind Guardian are one of a select number of groups to not have a member change ever in over ten years of existence, perhaps that is what happens when a band remains true to themselves while enjoying tremendous worldwide success.