(TheBRHM.com) This time we’re looking at extremely strong debuts! We’ll start with a band we’ve discussed a bit before in Blind Guardian with their 1988 debut Battalions of Fear.
What Type of Vibe Is Blind Guardian?
To be honest, there are different vibes with Blind Guardian’s music. It can depend on the decade or the particular project. For most of their discography BG is pretty intense and that’s mostly on the pace of albums and the band’s playing speed.
Blind Guardian is one of the pioneering bands of what speed metal—my favorite genre—would become in the 1980s. The genre had already been established with albums such as Judas Priest’s Sad Wings of Destiny, Motorhead’s debut album, and Riot’s Rock City.
With the bands that made it out of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal—the ones that found success and fame—you’d hear a lot of speed metal on albums. There was a mixing of UK punk and heavier rock music during this period. The result of a mix of bands with more mid-tempo approach and some that were faster but had their mid-tempo moments.
These albums would make it outside of England and influence younger bands that were experimenting with their sound—such as Blind Guardian in the late 80s. So, for their sound, BG was definitely faster early on. The band mixed this speedy approach with fantasy and Lord of the RIngs-inspired lyrics.
It was a new and fun experience when I first heard this classic German outfit, I had dove into speed metal and thrash metal. All of it was aggressive with songs about Hell, destruction, violence, nuclear war, politics, and so on. So, this was extremely refreshing.
There was still this aggressive, fast approach that I love but it had its moments where it would get away from that for a moment. When I researched Blind Guardian more, I found that this was also one of the bands that would pioneer power metal—another favorite genre—and it made sense.
In short, if you like some umph to your fantasy tales and epic legends, Blind Guardian has you most of the time. As the 90s and 00s rolled around, BG mixed in some more mid-tempo pieces as their albums became more conceptual and featured more of an atmosphere to tell stories.
The Performance of Battalions of Fear
This album is a total beast from start to finish. Hell, I’m far from the biggest instrumental fan but the two instrumentals that are on the A-side and B-side (the third and eighth tracks, respectively) were really good. As I’ve always said, I’m a big vocals and lyrics guy, so instrumentals really have to add to the album’s pace or atmosphere.
From “Majesty”, the album opener to “Battalions of Fear”, the last lyrical track, this album doesn’t let up pace-wise. It’s a fun, fast album that blitzes you with semi-related but commonly-themed adventures, lore, and the like. These are themes you’d want in music that is more mid-paced or slower so that you can digest the stories and stuff.
In BG’s case, it’s taking out a lot of the exposition and hitting you with the heat seekers. It’s like watching the trailer or a commercial for Lord of the Rings or the later Harry Potter films where the most exciting or dramatic parts are shown. That’s Battalions of Fear and the follow-up.
The original album is a 37-minute trailer to reel the listener in on their sound and material—and works! Their first two albums just reel you in and then you start to get the full movie or whole book approach with the 90s albums.
As a matter of fact, as unrefined as Battalions of Fear can sound at times when compared with their recent albums, I’d say that not only is BoF a great debut but probably one of the greatest. BG’s sound came a long way in albums 35 years of making metal.
I’d even recommend listening to the bonus edition. It’s available on Spotify and iTunes and features some demo material which is often times rawer than the released studio albums.
Power of the Opener: “Majesty”
The opening track on Battalions of Fear is “Majesty” which clocks in at seven and a half minutes. It’s not a fast seven minutes, either. You are cognizant that you’ve been on this song for some time and that it hasn’t bled over into another song. No, this is still the same song and you’re just four minutes through it.
That aside, it’s a lengthy track with a strong, fast-pace. If it were a little faster it would be exhausting, actually. Keeping that pace for anything over three or four minutes? Insanity! Four minutes is pushing it before I start considering pressing “next”. However, there are tracks that either ride the full time at full speed or tracks that ride fast, give you a short breather, and continue riding.
“Majesty” falls in the latter category. There is a momentum of breathing space before the pace ramps back up. This is a damn good opening track and a good pick as here are some other lengthy songs on the album which hit five and six minutes.
I couldn’t picture “Majesty” being in the middle of the album and at least not on the A-side. However, a good replacement opener would definitely be “Run for the Night”. It rides harder than “Majesty” at less time. However, it lacks that little extra that would make it a better opener. “Run for the Night” is a song for after you’ve caught Blind Guardian’s pace and approach. It’s not exactly the first BG song I’d pick as an intro if time wasn’t an issue.
Staff Writer; M. Swift
This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.