ALBUM REVIEW: Blind Guardian – The God Machine


2019’s fully orchestral concept album Legacy of the Dark Lands aside, it’s been seven long years since Blind Guardian‘s last proper full-length release. Seven years, which more recently included a global pandemic and lockdown periods that for much of the music industry meant nothing but frustration and turmoil, but actually afforded the German power metal act time to concentrate on where to head next

The band’s latest direction is evident straight away on twelfth studio album The God Machine (Nuclear Blast). Employing a far more straightforward approach, the folky and orchestral elements so dominant for years are all but gone, leaving a leaner, thrashier, speed metal record in its wake. More similar in tone to their earlier albums, the majority of songs on this latest release are fast paced, hard edged and often just downright aggressive.

Based on The Crucible, Arthur Miller‘s story about the Salem witch trials, ‘Deliver Us From Evil’ storms out of the gates with fierce guitars and double kick drums while The Kingkiller Chronicle by US author Patrick Rothfuss is the focus of ‘Damnation’, an equally powerful cut which ebbs and flows for maximum impact.


In a surprise to no-one, seven and a half minute epic ‘Secrets of the American Gods’ is based on the acclaimed novel by English author Neil Gaiman and is not only one of the finest songs the band has recorded in some time, but a distinct rarity on this record in that it actually features a minor level of orchestration and choral backing. Elsewhere, the streamlined speed metal of ‘Violent Shadows’ is derived from Brandon Sanderson‘s fantasy novel series The Stormlight Archives, while the creation of the universe is the inspiration for the dramatic slow-burn of ‘Life Beyond the Spheres’.

After a quietly portentous intro ‘Architects of Doom’, based on TV science fiction show Battlestar Galactica, combines urgent verses with slower, expansive choruses and energetic lead work by guitarist and co-songwriter André Olbrich. Ballad ‘Let It Be No More’ allows vocalist Hansi Kürsch room to show off his more introspective and vulnerable sides, the song based partly on the death of his mother, and TV show The Leftovers. Focusing on the first novel in The Witcher series by Andrzej Sapkowski, ‘Blood of the Elves’ piles on the speed and intensity once more before the album climaxes with ‘Destiny’, a direct and powerful cut based on The Ice-Maiden by Hans Christian Andersen.

By largely eschewing the grandiose orchestrations and occasionally overly complex song structures in favour of something simpler and more to the point, Blind Guardian still manage to capture the sweeping majesty of so many fantasy and science fiction landscapes but with less cinematic baggage.

More power metal than folk, more speed metal than symphonic, The God Machine is a new beginning derived from a glorious past.

Buy the album here:


8 / 10







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