BLIND GUARDIAN: A TWIST IN THE MYTH (2006)
1) This Will Never End; 2) Otherland; 3) Turn The Page; 4) Fly; 5) Carry The Blessed Home; 6) Another Stranger Me; 7) Straight Through The Mirror; 8) Lionheart; 9) Skalds & Shadows; 10) The Edge; 11) The New Order.
Damn those misleading, conflicting titles. Throughout the entire duration of the album, I was waiting and waiting for a «twist» — instead, I should have gotten the authentic clue from the title of the first song, ʽThis Will Never Endʼ. A Twist In The Myth is basically just A Night At The Opera, Vol. 2, and considering how monotonous the first installation was, you'd have to be incurably idealistic to expect any major shifts from the second. If anything, it is even smoother and less involving: producer Charlie Bauerfeind, despite a strong reputation (he had been working with the band since Nightfall, and he was also responsible for producing all of Angra's best albums), «muffles» and overcompresses the sound more and more with each next record — not that «raw» production would help a lot in making these songs more memorable.
I'd say that, by this time, the most useful thing about Blind Guardian albums is the insane amount of unpredictable influences on Hansi's metallic mind — you can pretty much use them as a personal guide into the complex twisted world of fantasy. For instance, the first track here was written courtesy of Walter Moers' novel A Wild Ride Through The Night, in which the author creates a mythological biography for Gustave Doré as a young boy whose task is to defy Death itself: I had no idea that anything of the sort existed, and now my knowledge is enriched by the experience (not that I'm running to my local library or anything), and, well, I suppose that the song's maniacal tempo and Hansi's banshee screaming on some of the verses are in accordance with the «young hero vs. Death» motive, even if the song itself has nothing in the way of a properly memorable memory (just a generic chugga-chugga thrash theme for a basic pattern).
ʽFlyʼ refers to Peter Pan and Finding Neverland — not the first reference to the subject in Blind Guardian history, but the most direct one; the song's chorus is one of the album's minor highlights (there is something about Hansi's "I'll teach you how to fly then..." that, for a brief second, tricks me into thinking of him in PeterPanish terms indeed), although the main melody has as much to do with Neverland as a Wall Street contract, not to mention the silly dinky keyboards that cheesify the proceedings even further. Why do they have to employ these stupid synthesizer paterns over and over again? Why not harps, or mandolins, or didgeridoos?.. Are they on such a tight budget, or do they mean that they really enjoy those sounds?
Other than an occasionally slowed down anthem with Celtic motives and bagpipes (ʽCarry The Blessed Homeʼ), or a generic medievalistic acoustic ballad (ʽSkalds & Shadowsʼ), the songs are so much interchangeable throughout that continuing this review is as painful as it is senseless. I give the record a certified thumbs down of the «eaten up by their own formula» variety, and invite you to make your own musical analysis if fantasy-based power metal is your personal cup of tea and you are prone to sudden fits of humming ʽOtherlandʼ in the shower. Myself, I'd not refuse a little bit of actual «progress», otherwise what incentive is there for writing album reviews in the first place?