Published on June 27th, 2017 | by Justin G.
25th Anniversary Spotlight – Blind Guardian: Somewhere Far Beyond
“Time what is time?” That’s not just the first song on German power metal legends Blind Guardian’s 1992 epic Somewhere Far Beyond, but a perfect question as the album hits its 25th anniversary. When the rest of the world was watching hair metal’s final days give way to the grunge scene, Blind Guardian was busy perfecting power metal. They had three other albums under their belt at that point. Two were arguably speed metal albums, and the third much more power metal oriented. Somewhere Far Beyond though, that was something, well…beyond.
Somewhere Far Beyond was the magic moment where Blind Guardian’s power metal direction, epic fantasy themes, and almost orchestral song arrangements were finally brought together to work in complete harmony. Heaviness plus melody, speed plus dramatic orchestration, and just this huge overall sound. This is what an epic power metal album is supposed to sound like! Hansi Kursch, who sounded better and better on each album, gave such a distinctive and definitive vocal performance on this album, piercing eardrums on “Time What is Time,” serving as dramatic guide for “The Quest for Tanelorn” and quietly taking on the bard’s role for the now-classic “The Bard’s Song.”
Somewhere Far Beyond is a near-perfect album, so there’s next to nothing you’d call filler. Songs like “Ashes to Ashes” and “Journey Through the Dark” don’t make most “best of Blind Guardian” lists, but they hold up just as well as the epic Dark Tower-themed title track and the grandiose “Theatre of Pain” (which to my ears is a precursor to where Blind Guardian would take their sound on A Night at the Opera).
It still blows my mind to think that this album was released in 1992. Epic power metal bands are a dime a dozen today, but at that time bands like Blind Guardian, Gamma Ray (whose founder Kai Hansen lends a guest solo to this album) and a few others were blazing the trail for a generation of bands that would follow. Sadly, I didn’t get my hands on this album until early 2000. Perhaps if I had known about Blind Guardian in 1992 I might not have jumped from Warrant and the Steelheart to Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains. So many wasted years…
25 years later, Somewhere Far Beyond still holds up as one of Blind Guardian’s defining moments. I think that the albums that immediately followed it (Imaginations From the Other Side and Nightfall in Middle Earth) are better overall, but not by much. And being one of Blind Guardian’s best albums means by default that Somewhere Far Beyond is one of the greatest power metal albums ever. It belongs in every power metal fan’s collection.
Reissue Notes: There have been several different versions of Somewhere Far Beyond over the years, but the 2007 Virgin/EMI reissue is the definitive edition. It includes the two cover songs from prior reissues – NWOBHM band Satan’s “Trial By Fire” and a bombastic version of Queen’s “Spread Your Wings” – as well as the “classic version” of “Theatre of Pain” and demo versions of “Ashes to Ashes” and “Time What is Time.” It has also been remastered, which is a huge plus. Between the extra tracks and the improved sound, this was an easy upgrade over my old Century Media version.
Summary: One of the all-time greatest power metal albums.