(Special thanks to Legionnaire Kurt Duncan for asking a store clerk at a music store in Germany, "What's the best German metal album to buy for my friend?" and to that unknown store clerk for being absolutely right.)
1984 was a significant year for power metal. Bands such as Manowar, Brocas Helm, Cirith Ungol, Iced Earth, and Fates Warning already fused thrash and speed metal with melodic sensibilities and fantasy themes to create American power metal. Iron Maiden and Dio, two of the inspirations of the power metal movement, continued their success with Powerslave and Last in Line, respectively. Most importantly, 1984 was the year that saw the birth of European power metal. While bands from other countries, such as Finland's Stratovarius, were also power metal pioneers, Germany is the focus of this new movement, with the forming of bands such as Helloween, Rage, and, of course, Blind Guardian.
Now some people may ask, "Kaiser, where the fuck have you been for the past two months?" Such questions are irrelevant, so shut up.
In the beginning of their career, they called themselves Lucifer's Heritage and released demos that had more of a speed metal sound. After getting a record deal, they changed their name, as they were constantly mistaken for a black metal group and put in that section of record stores (To an uninitiated dumbass, this may not seem like a big discrepancy, but it is.). Their first two albums, Battalions of Fear and Follow the Blind kept the speed/thrash metal influences. It wasn't until Tales from the Twilight World, their third album, that they went for a more complex, epic sound. Nightfall on Middle Earth, their sixth album, saw them delve into symphonic metal. Unlike some groups who tend to gravitate to symphonic metal or another sub-genre (I might talk about that some other time), Blind Guardian seem to enjoy variety in their music, which I appreciate. At the Edge of Time, their recent new release, is a good example of this. The songs range the gamut from epic, orchestral pieces, medeival type folk ballads, and traditional thrash based power metal, such as in this video for "A Voice in the Dark."
As is evident in their album titles, Blind Guardian is heavily influenced by fantasy literature, with songs inspired by The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, Michael Moorcock's Eternal Champion saga, the Death Gate Cycle, The Dark Tower series, the Dragonlance saga, the Wheel of Time series, A Song of Ice and Fire series, Arthurian legend, Greek and Norse mythology, and even biblical stories. Literature is not the only fantasy based avenue they've explored. One of their songs was featured, along with songs from Threshold and Hammerfall, on the soundtrack of the Uwe Boll movie In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (Which was the only good thing about that piece of shit film. Fuck you, Boll!). The band also recorded a song for the video game Sacred 2: Fallen Angel, which, from what I've heard, is an action-rpg guilty pleasure. A music video for the song, which the band remixed and released as the lead track, "Sacred Worlds," on the new album, used the game's engine to have a digital version of the band play a concert for a horde of monsters.
If you want to see or hear more of these founding fathers of Euro power metal, go to their website, look for their albums at your local music store (I mean a real music store, not Best Buy. You may have to special order it, though.), or order their cds online. If they've been around for almost 30 years, they must be doing something awesome.