Re-release on coloured vinyl (nightsky blue) with 400 g spined sleeve cover (inside out print), 250g insert and 60x60cm artwork poster. Limited to 300 copies.
The third and final band album with the siren voice of John Arch is not of this world. Not only true metal advocate Gerrit Mutz of 'Sacred Steel' elects this epic progressive work as the best metal album of all time.
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There are tons of fantasy metal bands these days, but 'Awaken the Guardian' really sounds like fantasy itself in a way that only Blind Guardian's 'Somewhere Far Beyond' rivals. Moonlit forests, glowing glyphs, ancient secrets, mysterious women - these all are evoked in the listener's mind not only by John Arch's (vocals) lyrics, but by the carefully crafted music itself. This is often considered a pioneering progressive metal album, but I find it to be closer to power metal (with progressive touches), with a little bit of thrash thrown in from time to time just to add some aggression and excitement.
Yes, this is a complex album. It has odd time signatures out the wazoo, shredding guitars, wailing vocals, all that good stuff. But above all this album is about SONGS. Everything here is to serve the songs, strange beasts as they are. Somehow, they take these razor-sharp, lurching, stumbling riffs, strengthen them with effective drum and bass parts, and let John Arch take it away on top of it all with his nasally, soaring vocals.
Jim Matheos and Frank Aresti had to have been two of metal's greatest guitarists at this time, and most underrated. They perform some bizarre riffs here, yet they manage to be catchy and melodic anyway. They also rip out some blistering solos, and they're like gold when they appear, because this album is not all about solos. They'd much rather hit you with an intense riff than dazzle you with a technical solo. If only more 'progressive' bands would do that; Fates Warning may have been progressive, but they were first and foremost METAL. One thing I really like is the red herrings they throw at you: one section of song will seem to wrap up, and a new riff will come in, and just when you think they're about to jump in and pursue this new riff, they'll go into a modified version of the previous part instead. I've never heard quite such an approach, and it works really well. And the solos, scarce as they are, never seem to come right where you'd expect them to; but their placement always makes perfect sense, and you wonder what you were expecting in the first place. Awesome, awesome performance by these guys.
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