Complete with anthemic choruses, spoken word story lines, and plenty of bombastic power metal punctuating every dramatic turn, Nightfall in Middle-Earth is perhaps Blind Guardian's most triumphant effort. After spending ten years and numerous releases building a large following in Europe and Japan, Blind Guardian took on the task of creating this progressive concept record based on J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy novel The Silmarillion. The story recounts events from the first age of Middle-Earth, Tolkien's parallel world that serves as the mythological backdrop for his classic Lord of the Rings trilogy. The Blind Guardian interpretation features bassist/vocalist Hansi Kürsch's first-person character portrayals and narrations of the medieval quest for truth and glory. It's really quite grandiose. Except for a couple of quick-paced numbers, Blind Guardian favors an operatic prog rock approach on Nightfall in Middle-Earth, suggesting comparisons to Queen, with dense choir-like vocal harmonies set against swirling multi-part guitar lines. Kürsch lacks the technical abilities of metal's most theatrical frontmen, but his conviction and craftiness make up for these limitations as the vocalist stretches and twists his voice to create that rarest of metal attributes, a genuine sonic signature. Plainly, this music is not for everyone. Listeners who can't take the theatricality of Manowar, Hammerfall, or Helloween probably won't be able to stomach Nightfall in Middle-Earth either. However, power metal aficionados and prog fans with a taste for Celtic minstrel counterpoint, shredding guitar solos, thousand-voice marching choruses, and just about everything in between should have more than a passing interest is this hyper-ambitious release.
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AllMusic Review by Vincent Jeffries