For 2 decades a lesser-known band from Germany, Blind Guardian, has melded power metal, rock, symphony, and acoustic guitar into fantasy-based songs. Many of their tracks are Lord of the Rings based, with just a few sci-fi tunes on the odd track. Stephen King also gets a few songs. All very skillfully written and performed with vigor we don't often see anymore in current music. The band is still playing on, strong as ever, better than ever. Blind Guardian are in the same family as Ayreon, Avantasia, Gamma Ray, and even Queen (QII and Sheer Heart Attack style). If you haven't heard Blind Guardian yet, do give them a try. For a starting place, from here are the top 10 Blind Guardian songs:
10 - War of the Thrones (2010) from "At the Edge of Time" LP
9 - Mirror, Mirror (1998) from "Nightfall in Middle Earth" This track is an unrelenting metal anthem.
8 - Mordred's Song (1995) best track on "Imaginations from the Other Side"
7 - And Then There Was Silence …(2002) a 14 minute mini operetta, very Bohemian Rhapsody-esque, and reminiscent of Queen. The album is even titled: A Night at the Opera
6 - Lord of the Rings (1990) on the "Tales from the Twilight World" CD.
5 /tie Maiden and the Minstrel Knight (2002)
5 /tie Another Stranger Me (2006)
4 - Harvest of Sorrow (2002) This was a bonus track on the Japanese versions of two separate albums. It stands as one of the best BG songs ever. A French version (Moisson de peine) also appeared as a bonus track, and a version is played on the 2003 live album.
3 - Carry the Blessed Home (2006) from the "Twist in the Myth" album, very much like a Queen song with a decidedly Brian May guitar style. This tune rocks!
2 - Nightfall in Middle Earth (1998) - the title track from their classic CD based on the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
1 - Curse My Name (2010) from "At the Edge of Time," a cosmic, captivating album housing some of the best tracks by BG. One of the best places for new fans to start. "Wheel of Time" (Orchestral version) should also get honorable mention from the same CD.
Blind Guardian also do a good metal cover of the Queen song "Spread Your Wings" on the "Somewhere Far Beyond" album. It should be noted that "Bard's Song: The Hobbit" is often listen as the fans' favorite tune. I'd put it around #11, if the list had been longer. A great song, but too many to squeeze in. If the list were extended, we could include: Sacred Worlds and Bright Eyes in our "best of Blind Guardian songs."
You'll also see some of the best fantasy artwork on the cover of every Blind Guardian album. If you're not yet a fan, give this band a listen. Blind Guardian is an underappreciated symphonic metal band.