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Music / Blind Guardian

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The Bards. From left to right: Johan van Stratum, Marcus Siepen, Hansi Kürsch, André Olbrich, and Frederik Ehmke.

In my thoughts and in my dreams,
They're always in my mind
These songs of hobbits, dwarves and men,
And elves come close your eyes
You can see them, too
— "The Bard's Song: In the Forest", summarizing the band perfectly.

Blind Guardian is a German Power Metal band formed in 1987 (or in 1984 if you count its earlier incarnation, "Lucifer's Heritage"). Though their first few albums sounded a lot like Helloween (Kai Hansen, Helloween's guitarist, actually guested on them), they quickly developed their own style and have become one of the most influential power metal bands. The band members are fans of Queen — one of their albums is actually called A Night at the Opera after the Queen album (itself named for a movie) — and their sound is strongly influenced by Queen. Their vocalist uses doubletracking in similar ways as Freddie Mercury. They are known for their epic sound, bombastic choruses, and pseudo-medieval/Celtic ballads. Many of their songs are based on fantasy and mythology.

You may know them as the band that did "Battlefield". Until his collaborator's arrest for insurrection in 2021, Hansi Kürsch also had a side project called Demons & Wizards with Iced Earth founder Jon Schaffer. He frequently guests on other speed/power/progressive metal bands' albums, including Ayreon's 01011001 and The Source, Gamma Ray's "Land of the Free" and "Farewell", and Edguy's "Vain Glory Opera" and "Out Of Control".

They now have an iPhone app devoted entirely to themselves.


  • 1988 - Battalions of Fear
  • 1989 - Follow the Blind
  • 1990 - Tales from the Twilight World
  • 1992 - Somewhere Far Beyond
  • 1993 - Tokyo Tales (live)
  • 1995 - Imaginations from the Other Side
  • 1996 - The Forgotten Tales (covers and alternate versions of songs)
  • 1998 - Nightfall in Middle-Earth
  • 2002 - A Night at the Opera
  • 2003 - Live (live)
  • 2006 - A Twist in the Myth
  • 2010 - At the Edge of Time
  • 2012 - Memories of a Time to Come (compilation album)
  • 2015 - Beyond the Red Mirror
  • 2017 - Live Beyond the Spheres (live)
  • 2019 - Legacy of the Dark Lands (orchestral album, released under the name "Blind Guardian Twilight Orchestra")
  • 2022 - The God Machine

Band Members:

  • Hansi Kürsch - lead vocals (1984-), bass (1984-1996)
  • André Olbrich - lead guitar (1984-)
  • Marcus Siepen - rhythm guitar (1987-)
  • Frederik Ehmke - drums, percussion, flute, bagpipes (2005-)
  • Johan van Stratum - bass (2021-)

Former Members:

  • Thomas Kelleners - lead vocals (1984-1984)
  • Markus Dörk - guitars (1984-1985)
  • Christof Theißen – rhythm guitar (1986-1986)
  • Hans-Peter Frey – drums (1986-1986)
  • Thomas "Thomen" Stauch – drums, percussion (1984-1985, 1987-2005)

Notable Blind Guardian songs include:

    An incomplete list of stories, events, and people that they have songs about. 
  • Alice in Wonderland (referenced in "Imaginations from the Other Side")
  • American Gods ("Secrets of the American Gods")
  • Arthurian Legend ("A Past and Future Secret", "Mordred's Song", "All the King's Horses")
  • Battlestar Galactica ("Architects of Doom")
  • The Battle of Stamford Bridge ("Battlefield")
  • The Bible ("The Martyr", "Banish From Sanctuary", "Another Holy War", "Precious Jerusalem", "Sadly Sings Destiny", "The Edge")
  • Blade Runner ("Time, What is Time?")
  • Celtic Mythology / Wicca ("Turn the Page")
  • The Crusades ("The Script for My Requiem")
  • The Dark Tower and other Stephen King novels ("Somewhere Far Beyond", "Carry the Blessed Home", "Tommyknockers", "Altair 4", "Guardian of the Blind", "Follow the Blind")
  • The Death Gate Cycle ("I'm Alive")
  • Dragonlance ("The Last Candle", "The Soulforged", fan-requested topic)
  • Dune ("Traveler in Time")
  • The Elric Saga and other Michael Moorcock novels ("Damned for All Time", "Fast to Madness", "Journey through the Dark", "The Quest for Tanelorn", "Tanelorn")
  • The English Civil War ("Curse my Name")
  • E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial ("Goodbye My Friend")
  • Floating Dragon ("Welcome to Dying")
  • Friedrich Nietzsche ("Punishment Divine")
  • Galileo Galilei ("Age of False Innocence")
  • The Hobbit ("The Bard's Song - The Hobbit")
  • The Iliad ("And Then There Was Silence", "Under The Ice")
  • The Lord of the Rings ("Majesty", "Lord of the Rings", "By the Gates of Moria," "Gandalf's Rebirth," "Lost in the Twilight Hall")
  • Norse Mythology ("Valhalla," "Valkyries")
  • The Odyssey ("Lionheart")
  • Otherland ("Otherland", arguably "Another Stranger Me")
  • Paradise Lost ("Control the Divine")
  • Peter Pan ("Fly", referenced in "Born in a Mourning Hall" and "Imaginations from the Other Side")
  • Solomon Kane (All of Legacy of the Dark Lands)
  • Politics ("Battalions of Fear" is an attack on the Strategic Defense Initiative of Ronald Reagan; "Wait For An Answer" is a fable written by Hansi when he was still in school about an unusual friendship between a hare and a fox who try to stop some sort of holocaust planned by crows. Can be interpreted as being about Adolf Hitler's rise to power.)
  • Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen ("Skalds and Shadows")
  • The Silmarillion (all of Nightfall in Middle-Earth plus "Harvest of Sorrow")
  • Song of Hildebrandt ("Battlefield")
  • A Song of Ice and Fire ("A Voice in the Dark", "War of the Thrones")
  • The Stormlight Archive ("Violent Shadows")
  • Tristan und Isolde ("The Maiden and the Minstrel Knight")
  • A Wild Ride through the Night ("This Will Never End")
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (referenced in "Imaginations from the Other Side")
  • The Wheel of Time ("Wheel of Time," "Ride into Obsession")
  • The Witcher ("Blood of the Elves")

Blind Guardian and their music provide examples of:

  • AcCENT upon the Wrong SylLABle: Hansi has nearly perfect fluency in English, which sets him heavily apart from many European power metal singers and songwriters. That said, he still has a massive German accent, which on occasion leads to some...interesting arrangements of syntax and pronunciation. For instance, in "The Quest For Tanelorn":
    He tries to conQUER it...
    • And famously in "Time Stands Still (At the Iron Hill)":
    When time stands still at the EYE-ron hill...
  • Ambiguous Syntax: A Blind Guardian is apparently someone who guards the blind, not a guardian who is blind.
  • And I Must Scream: "Blood Tears."
    • If you know your Silmarillion, you know the guy'll be saved. It'll cost him a hand, but he'll be okay for the entire First Age.
  • Audience Participation Song: Most of their songs, but "The Bard's Song" is sung mostly by the audience, "Valhalla" and "The Last Candle" involve the audience chanting the chorus (or in "The Last Candle"'s case, the outro) for as long as possible after the song ends, and "And Then There Was Silence" actually has a part that goes "la-la-la", representing thousands of excited, celebratory people. They say that they don't plan for people to sing along...
  • Bragging Theme Tune: Time Stands Still at the Iron Hill, towards Fingolfin.
  • Call-Back: A couple:
    • "The Last Candle" from Tales from the Twilight World begins with the repeated line "Guardian, guardian, guardian of the blind", which previously appeared in the appropriately-titled "Guardian of the Blind" from Battalions of Fear.
    • At the Edge of Time is named after a line from "And the Story Ends" from Imaginations from the Other Side.
      • A song called "At the Edge of Time" finally appears on Beyond the Red Mirror. So we now have an album and a song named after a lyric, but the lyric doesn't appear in the song or album named after it, and the song does not appear on the album that shares its name.
  • Concept Album: Nightfall in Middle-earth is based on J. R. R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion. Every later album has common theme (faith in Night at the Opera, fairy-tales and legends in Another Twist in the Myth, control and rebellion in At the Edge of Time) but songs aren't connected.
    • Beyond the Red Mirror is a sequel to the themes introduced in Imaginations From the Other Side.
  • Concept Video: ''A Voice In The Dark'' is about the Mayans. Also qualifies as Lyrics/Video Mismatch, as the song was based on A Song of Ice and Fire.
  • Cover Version: "Barbara Ann", "Surfin' USA", "Long Tall Sally," "Mr. Sandman," "Don't Talk to Strangers," "In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida", "Dream a Little Dream," "Hallelujah," "The Wizard," "To France," "Spread Your Wings," "Trial by Fire", "Don't Break the Circle", "You're the Voice" and "Beyond the Realms of Death".
  • Double Entendre: Non-sexual; in the close of And Then There Was Silence, the lyrics "the nightmare shall be over now, there's nothing more to fear" can refer both to the Trojans' expectation of final victory, and what actually happened.
  • Downer Ending: "Final Chapter (Thus Ends...)," concluding Morgoth's conquest.
  • Epic Instrumental Opener: "Sacred Worlds" rocks out instrumentally for 2:10 (in a song that's about 9:15 total) before the lyrics start.
  • Epic Rocking: And Then There Was Silence is not only 14 minutes long, the full version was released as a single.
  • Everything's Louder with Bagpipes: The track "Piper's Calling" from Somewhere Far Beyond is an entire track of nothing but bagpipes. The next track, "Somewhere Far Beyond," also features a pipe section, as does their cover of John Farnham's "You're the Voice."
  • Evil Laugh: There's a classic one from Morgoth in the Nightfall in Middle-Earth interlude "Captured", and Hansi has taken to doing an insane-sounding laugh in "Valhalla".
  • He Who Fights Monsters: "Curse of Fëanor", sung from Curufinwë Fëanáro's perspective.
  • "I Am" Song: Wheel of Time, which is from the perspective of the hero of the titular series, Rand al' Thor.
    I'm The Dragon Reborn, and in madness I soon shall prevail!
  • Instrumentals: "Lucifer's Heritage", "Trial by the Archon", "By the Gates of Moria", "Gandalf's Rebirth", "Beyond the Ice", "Weird Dreams", "The Piper's Calling".
  • Large Ham: Onstage and as a person, Hansi is a very grounded, subtle presence, setting him apart from, say, the thigh-pounding of Joakim Brodén and the scenery-chewing of Tobias Sammet. This only makes it all the more stunning that the guy's singing voice can best be described as a bombastic, echoing roar, belting his high-fantasy lyrics pretty much in all caps.
  • Lead Bassist: Hansi Kürsch was a type B until session bassists took over.
  • Long-Runner Line-up: The band boasted the exact same lineup for about 20 years before Thomas Stauch left in 2005. Their next iteration, with Frederik Ehmke taking Stauch's place, held up for just shy of the same amount of time before the band added bassist Johan van Stratum in 2021.
  • Long-Runners: Among the longest in Power Metal, Blind Guardian have, as of this writing, been going at the craft for nearly 40 years.
  • Loudness War: Everything after Nightfall In Middle-Earth, but A Night At The Opera is easily the worst offender of them all.
  • Lust Object: The Silmarils in "Into the Storm".
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "Curse my name" from At The Edge Of Time: an upbeat semi-ballad about bloody rebellion. These lines don't quite fit with the music at first:
    Let him curse my name
    On these bloodstained pages of misery.
    • The entirety of "A Night at the Opera fits this trope. Despite being the band's lightest album musically, all of the lyrics deal with themes of despair or failure in some shape or form.
  • Mayincatec: The ''A Voice In The Dark'' video has them in one with very Caucasian inhabitants.
  • Metal Scream: There are usually a few per album. Hansi does them well.
  • My Master, Right or Wrong: In the intro to Nightfall, an unnamed servant (implied to be Sauron) arrives in Morgoth's chambers to implore him to flee, since the War of Wrath is not going in their favor. Morgoth refuses, but tells the servant to flee instead.
  • New Sound Album:
    • Tales from the Twilight World started introducing certain elements, such as multi-layered vocal harmonies and keyboard melodies that were pretty much absent (or at least hardly noticeable) from the band's previous works.
    • A Twist in the Myth included more progressive metal elements than previous albums and toned down the band's overdubbing somewhat. Its influence can still be heard on At the Edge of Time, though many of the more traditional elements have returned as well.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: "Quest for Tanelorn" and "The Ninth Wave".
    • Also "Inquisition", though once you recognize the source it's not so ominous.
  • Perspective Flip: A lot of their songs are from the villain's point of view. For example, "Under the Ice" is from the viewpoint of Clytemnestra, who was responsible for murdering Agamemnon and Cassandra. And don't get us started on their Sauron tributes.
  • Protest Song: "Battalions of Fear" criticizes Ronald Reagan.
  • Revisiting the Roots: The God Machine is a stylistic throwback to their early/mid 1990s output, with a more aggressive and riff-driven sound, less heavily layered vocals, and virtually no symphonic presence.
  • Rock Me, Amadeus!: "By the Gates of Moria".
  • Self-Backing Vocalist: This is Hansi Kürsch's trademark.
  • Self-Plagiarism: Listen to the riffs of "This Will Never End" and "Tanelorn (Into the Void)"
  • Band Name Drop: A sneaky one in "The Last Candle", with the phrase "Guardian, guardian, guardian of the blind" being repeated four times in a row, meaning that you get to hear "blind guardian" three times.
  • Shout-Out: Many, both to bands and writers.
    • Possibly a reverse shout out; in the last Wheel of Time novel, A Memory of Light, chapter 23 is called At the Edge of Time, the same name as the Blind Guardian album which featured two songs about the book series.
  • Soprano and Gravel: On top of his nearly superhuman vocal range, Hansi also employs a wide array of vocal styles to suit the song at hand, from the higher, angelic tone he uses on "The Bard's Song (In the Forest)" and "Harvest of Sorrow" to the borderline Black Metal shrieks he occasionally employs during live performances of "Time Stands Still (At the Iron Hill)". Most often, his vocals fall somewhere between the two points; on most of their standard numbers, he uses a rough, growling baritone.
  • Shown Their Work: Their songs based on the many fantasy tales are very accurate.
  • Speed Metal: Battalions of Fear was still heavily tied to the German speed metal sound, with a sound fairly reminiscent of Helloween's early works, and while Follow the Blind was a shift to power metal, it still had prominent speed metal elements.
  • A Storm Is Coming: "Mirror Mirror", "Into the Storm", "And Then There Was Silence", several others.
  • Step Up to the Microphone: Back when they were called Lucifer's Heritage, they had a song called "Symphonies of Doom", parts of which were sung by their then rhythm guitarist Markus Dörk.
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song: They tend to have one per album, often based on a medieval folk sound. These include "Lord of the Rings", "The Bard's Song", "A Past And Future Secret," "The Eldar," (except for the Metal Scream) "Harvest of Sorrow," "Skalds and Shadows", "War of the Thrones" and "Miracle Machine".
  • Sympathetic P.O.V.: "Mordred's Song", "Thorn" (about Maeglin), "Under the Ice" (about Clytemnestra), and, to some extent, "The Curse of Fëanor" (about, well, Fëanor), "Curse My Name" (King Charles I), and "The Soulforged" (about Raistlin Majere). Several Demons & Wizards songs also fit this.
  • Symphonic Metal: They have more elements of this from Nightfall in Middle-Earth onward, but "Sacred Worlds" and "Wheel of Time" are definitely this, being performed with a full orchestra. Beyond the Red Mirror expands the style for almost every song. They almost completely abandoned this on The God Machine for a Revisiting the Roots approach reminiscent of their early/mid 1990s output.
  • Then Let Me Be Evil: Mordred's Song.
  • Trapped in Another World: "Imaginations From The Other Side" is about this.
  • Villain Song: "Ride Into Obsession" is half this or more, it's hard to tell which lines are from Lews Therin and which are from Moridin.
    • "Into the Storm", "Thorn" and especially "A Dark Passage" on the Nightfall in Middle-Earth album.
    • Also, "Mordred's Song" and "Control the Divine", among others.
  • Written by the Winners: an attempt to defy it in "Curse my Name."
    Let them curse my name
    But remember the truth!
  • You No Take Candle: "Welcome to Dying".