Blind Guardian – “Live Beyond The Spheres” 3CD (Nuclear Blast)
One of the legends of German power metal, Blind Guardian bring forth their first live album in 14 years – and what a monster it is too! A gargantuan collection of 22 songs compiled from the best of 40 live performances, recorded during the band’s European tour in 2015, “Live Beyond The Spheres” is set to go down in history in its own right – if anything because of the incredible crowd singalongs to every track. Sure, there are plenty of classic live releases through metal history but this is one of the few where the crowds are loudly heard singing through the entirety – so much so that founder vocalist Hansi Kürsch could be rendered redundant ha ha! With the band selected material taken from the past, as well as newer stuff, the real treat is in the less frequented material although the emphasis here is on conveying a monumental live experience, which certainly works on my favorite tracks like ‘Mirror Mirror’, ‘Prophecies’ and the thoroughly rousing ‘Nightfall’. Playing a combination of traditional power metal across a range of tempos mixed with Rush influenced prog and Jethro Tull inspired folk, the massive singalong aspect of Blind Guardian’s material is simply emblazoned over everything, made all the more irresistible by Kürsch’s soulful vocals, killer choruses and spell bounding guitar melodies and solos. Honestly, I dare anyone to resist being carried along especially if you aren’t German ha ha! Founded in the mid 80s, Blind Guardian have been through any band’s share of ups and downs, but what makes “Live Beyond The Spheres” so special is that it doesn’t seek to mark any point in history, nor necessarily take us on some fantasy quest so commonly presented by the band’s genre peers, but simply and honestly to convey to listeners the sheer feel good factor of the band’s live show. That in itself would make this an essential purchase for anyone, fan or not, but with Blind Guardian you get more, and a whole lot more than that too.