Once more I return to listening to the albums of German power metal band Blind Guardian. While Nightfall in Middle Earth remains their best work (in my humble opinion), I’ve rarely found one of their albums that didn’t have some kickass tracks. In this case, I selected this one as my second favorite of the CDs because it is the one I listen to most along with Nightfall during my fantasy writing. I have some criticisms for their album but, well, it’s only my opinion.
In general, At the Edge of Time is a lot more traditional power metal album with some notable exceptions. Except Blind Guardians usual strong vocals, guitar work, and a more mixed selection of homages to various fantasy media among the songs rather than a singular focus on Tolkien’s Legendarium. In this case there are songs homaging the works of Michael Moorcock [“Tanelorn (Into the Void”), A Song of Ice and Fire (“War of the Thrones”), and Wheel of Time (“Wheel of Time”).
Oddly, I believe I have to bring special attention to the song “Curse my Name” which has a unique high pitched singing that separates it from the vast majority of heavy metal out there. It also has genuinely interesting subject matter with the execution of Charles I. Specifically, it’s based on The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates, a contemporary political tract written by John Milton (of Paradise Lost fame) that called for his execution.
I’m going to say that “War of Thrones” and “The Wheel of Time” are the two other standout tracks from the volume despite the fact it was meant to center on “A Voice in the Dark” that I just don’t find to be particularly memorable. I may be letting my love of fantasty influence my feelings but I love both tracks and listen to them repeatedly.
“War of Thrones” is a softer and more melodic ballad that talks about the fall of Westeros as the Others are coming to kill everyone while they’re fighting over the Iron Throne. It has a lot of wonderful winter imagery and is actually a pretty astute observation about the setting. It’s both beautiful as well as depressing.
“The Wheel of Time” by contrast almost feels like its own album that was compressed into a single nine minute track. It’s a big fantastic song with a lot of the folksy Medieval elements that was throughout Nightfall on Middle Earth. It tells the rough story of Rand al’Thor and how he’s going to be unable to escape his destiny of madness as well as conquering the world to face the Dark One. This is definitely the centerpiece of the album for me and could have been expanded to be its own Nightfall-esque work.
There’s a two-disc version of this album but I’ll be honest that you should probably not bother with the second disc. The orchestral versions of some songs aren’t really worth it while the demo for “Curse My Name” is the first thing I’ve ever heard of Blind Guardian that I’ve actually hated. They really improved on it for the main disc.