Blind Guardian's latest album, "At the Edge of Time," might not break much new ground for the German power-metal group. Still, the prog-heavy approach to speed metal has been pioneering in the genre since the quartet's formation in the mid-'80s, and this recording shows off the group's strengths.
The thrashing "Ride Into Obsession" zooms so fast that the song's mere sound imitates its title. Hansi Kuersch's soaring vocals are both fervent and masterfully controlled. The tracks aren't always so frantic - "Curse My Name" has an obvious folk influence, and the prominent piano melody in "Road of No Release" gives the song a softer edge.
Blind Guardian has continued its tradition of seeking inspiration from fantasy and mythology. "Valkyries" refers to the female figures in Norse mythology, and the nine-minute album closer, "Wheel of Time," is based on Robert Jordan's fantasy novels. Its copious sonic and time-signature shifts give the album a triumphant-sounding ending, as well as a thunderous reminder of Blind Guardian's enduring intensity.
-- Catherine P. Lewis