The God Machine
Review by Lynxie on June 25, 2023.
I have been somewhat hesitant about penning this review; nearly two years of reviewing works have at least taught me to be more careful about bigger names. But then again my first review was a Helloween one and I love The God Machine just as much, if not more than Helloween. Really, if the 9.5 I'd given to Helloween in 2021 had sentimental values to it, then the 9.5 here is dealt out purely due to The God Machine's excellency. So, yeah, fuck all caution, and if Gamma Ray actually releases a new album this year then I can do a panel, ha!
So, what is it about The God Machine that makes it so enjoyable? Put simply, it's a refreshing blend of Blind Guardian's signature sound. You hear the wailing guitars and you would know it for Blind Guardian. You hear the bombastic choruses and you would know it for Blind Guardian. You hear the grand backing vocals and you would know it for Blind Guardian... They know what sound would please the fans and they stick to it. The whole fucking community has been fussing over how old school BG 'Deliver Us from Evil' sound like the day it came out, and 'Violent Shadows' and 'Blood Of The Elves' are just as reminiscent. I love how 'Damnation' reminds me of 'Another Holy War' too, or how that riff of 'Life Beyond The Spheres' brought me immediately back to 'Sacred Mind'. And verily 'Secrets Of The American Gods' is a flashback to 'A Night At The Opera'. The only track that falls somewhat short of mark is probably the closer 'Destiny', if only because it doesn't quite sound like a closer.
Yet, yet, you could not accuse Blind Guardian of self-plagiarism -- André Olbrich and Co. are ever more diligent at pushing out interesting solos, haunting orchestras, or just a very epic vocal harmony. You gotta appreciate those cinematic intros on the likes of 'Architects Of Doom' or 'Destiny' while at the same time headbanging to 'Blood Of The Elves' or 'Damnation'. The bards actually did away with their classic acoustic ballads this time, though 'Let It Be No More' is a hauntingly beautiful piece so I won't complain. By this point I genuinely believe that Hansi's carried the ring at a certain point; the man's voice has retained that same quality for well nigh thirty years now and I suspect he can go on for another thirty years. It's not the first time I marvel at how versatile he is: I love Hansi's grittier shrieks, at the same time his more resonant, more operatic lines are pure godly.
Admittedly, my experience with Blind Guardian has always been a bit chaotic so to speak. Long story short, I always felt that I should have tried them out, but I hadn't been able to grasp its essence until recently. Indeed I have mad respect for Blind Guardian for actually getting a real fucking orchestra and releasing a full orchestral album; that's fan fuckery at its finest but I'll take it with my legs open and there's reason why their pipe organs don't sound as cheap as some of their peers.
Well, I come of age next month, I think I'll raise an early pint of beer for Blind Guardian -- here's to another decade of bombastic, crushing German power metal. Putting out a masterpiece such as The God Machine at this point of your career is not a feat many bands can manage (Right, Avantasia?).
Highlights: 'Deliver Us From Evil', 'Damnation', 'Secrets Of The American Gods', 'Violent Shadows', 'Blood Of The Elves'
Rating: 9.5 out of 10664
Review by Michael on August 31, 2022.
Listening to a new Blind Guardian album always raises some nostalgic feelings in me. It is always a little bit like coming back home after a long time – some things have changed but in general all is trusted to you and you feel comfortable. Okay, the last times I came back home metaphorically, the house was a little bit untidy and some things weren't there but now with Johan van Stratum on the bass they have made up my acoustic home again after 7 years of absence (if you don't count the live album and the lukewarm and disappointing Twilight Orchestra release).
Of course the Germans have changed their sound a lot during their 35-year career and I guess I don't have to tell you about that here, that would go beyond the scope. But what I can anticipate is that they found a lot of old strength with The God Machine what is concerned with heaviness and speed. Of course there are these typical melodies too which make the band that unique but also some darker, gloomier arrangements crept into some of the tracks.
'Deliver Us From Evil' which was also released as the first single is a typical Blind Guardian track with all the elaborated melody finesses that the band has developed almost into absolute perfection. The chorus has the bombastic and epic trademarks like songs on A Night At The Opera or Imaginations From The Other Side and puts you into a very perfect mood to listen to the album. But the band doesn't continue this epic style in the further progress but gets a little bit slower, darker and heavier with 'Damnation' and 'Life Beyond The Spheres'. Hansis vocal range is much wider than on the previous album, too, so that he underlines this gloomy mood with some deeper and somewhat more evil vocal patterns. Another big surprise is that they go back wide into their past – with 'Violent Shadows' and 'Architects Of Doom' they do have two really fast and crushing speed metal songs on board and I think that they haven't written such fast tracks since Tales From The Twilight World. 'Let It Be No More' is the ballad on The God Machine and has some very personal lyrics because Hansi tries to work with the death of his mother. It might be the weakest track but having that sad background in mind this may be very forgivable. Closing with 'Destiny' this is the most “modern” Blind Guardian song on the album which reminds of some songs from the newer albums. It is a very complicated and encapsulated song that needs some listening sessions to fully explore it.
Having mentioned the lyrical background of 'Let It Be No More' – the band was influenced by a lot of interesting literature (as always) such as “The Stormlight Archives” by Brandon Sanderson, “Kingkiller Chronicles” by Patrick Rothfuss, “American Gods” by Neil Gaiman and “The Witcher” by Andrzej Sapkowski. Maybe you get some inspiration for your next books here.
With their 12th regular studio album the band found back the old strength and it might be their strongest album since A Night At The Opera. Those who thought that Beyond The Red Mirror was much too bulky and top-heavy will be pretty glad about the songs and the people who left following the bands career after Nightfall In Middle-Earth may be happy that the Rhinelander concentrated more onto heaviness and epic and rousing hymns.
Rating: 9.5 out of 10 God Machines664