Album Review – Blind Guardian / The God Machine (2022)

Seven years after the release of Beyond The Red Mirror, the most respect German Power Metal bards of all time make a brilliant return with their breathtaking twelfth studio album.

Seven years after the release of Beyond The Red Mirror, the multi-talented German Power Metal bards Blind Guardian make a brilliant return and compensate for the waiting time with their new studio album, entitled The God Machine, the twelfth in their undisputed career. Produced, recorded and engineered by Charlie Bauerfeind and Thomas Geiger, mixed by Joost van den Broek and Jos Driessen, mastered by Jaakko Viitalähde, and displaying a classy artwork by Peter Mohrbacher, The God Machine brings everything we learned to love and more in the music by frontman Hansi Kürsch and his henchmen André Olbrich and Marcus Siepen on the guitars, Frederik Ehmke on drums, and session musicians Barend Courbois on bass and Thomas Geiger on keyboards, with each song having its lyrics based on a specific novel, play, series or milestone in their personal lives, such as The Kingkiller Chronicle, Battlestar Galactica and American Gods. “We didn’t want to rehash our style from 1995, but on the other hand we didn’t want to have to continue on our current path forever. The God Machine is a new beginning for us. We’re putting everything back to square one and return to certain patterns that we neglected a bit on previous releases. Look forward to an album that is straighter, more aggressive, but always blessed with highly infectious melodies and hooks,” commented Hansi about the band’s new opus.

The rhythmic riffs by André and Marcus set the stage for the epic Deliver Us From Evil, with Hansi distilling his trademark, powerful vocals from the very first second in a pure Blind Guardian sound with no shenanigans, or in other words, this will be a fantastic opener for their upcoming concerts. In Damnation we’re treated to cryptic words darkly declaimed by Hansi (“They’re like ghosts / The ancient ones / Burning blue’s their sign / It’s all true / Hush don’t cry / Better hide”) while his bandmates deliver first-class Power and Heavy Metal nonstop in a journey back in time to the band’s early days; followed by Secrets Of The American Gods, which starts in a beyond epic, majestic manner before exploding into another headbanging, symphonic Power Metal aria, being therefore tailored for their live setlists. And it’s then time for another explosion of visceral Power Metal by the bards entitled Violent Shadows, where Barend and Frederik’s kitchen offers the band’s guitar duo the perfect atmosphere for their wicked riffs and solos.

Life Beyond The Spheres displays solid instrumental and vocals, albeit it lacks the same punch as its predecessors. The keys by guest Joost van den Broek are spot-on, though, enhancing the song’s kick. Then speeding things up and delivering a beautiful fusion of heaviness, epicness and violence the band brings forward Architects Of Doom, where Frederik dictates the pace while Hansi continues to stun us all with his unparalleled vocals; and Hansi mesmerizes us once again in Let It Be No More, starting in a serene, pensive manner and evolving into a bold and beautiful sonority where André pierces our souls with his guitar solo. The fantastic Blood Of The Elves brings to us listeners powerful lyrics (“Honor, it’s easy to dispose / In this darkest hour we’re alone / From behind closed doors it aims for her / Magic’s reaching out to draw her in / To the eye of the storm / The storm”) spiced up by a traditional, straightforward sound that will please all fans of the band, whereas just like a sinister, climatic ending of a fantasy movie we’re treated to the hammering Destiny, a great way to conclude another sensational work by Blind Guardian showcasing their characteristic vocals and riffs enfolded by gorgeous background elements.

Blind Guardian The God Machine Nuclear Blast Mailorder Vinyl Boxset

Such masterpiece of German Power and Heavy Metal can be appreciated in all of its glory on YouTube and on Spotify, but if I were you I would certainly click HERE or HERE to purchase the physical edition of the album, including the superb Nuclear Blast Mailorder Vinyl Boxset, limited to 1,700 copies, which comes with a crystal-clear double LP with red inkspot and black splatter in a gatefold with 24-page booklet, a digipack CD, a board game, a slipmat, a signed card, a sticker and a postcard set. Don’t forget to also follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram for news and tour dates, and to stream all of their amazing videos and albums on YouTube and on Spotify. In summary, seven years between two albums feels like an eternity for us fans when the band in question is as amazing as Blind Guardian, but the wait was certainly worth it as The God Machine proves why such German metal machine is so respected and admired in the world of heavy music.

Best moments of the album: Deliver Us From Evil, Damnation, Violent Shadows and Blood Of The Elves.

Worst moments of the album: Life Beyond The Spheres.

Released in 2022 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Deliver Us From Evil 5:21
2. Damnation 5:20
3. Secrets Of The American Gods 7:28
4. Violent Shadows 4:17
5. Life Beyond The Spheres 6:02
6. Architects Of Doom 6:20
7. Let It Be No More 4:48
8. Blood Of The Elves 4:37
9. Destiny 6:46

Nuclear Blast Mailorder Edition, Vinyl Boxset bonus tracks
10. Life Beyond the Spheres (Cyber Mix) 6:07
11. Destiny (Lead Guitar Version) 6:42
12. Let It Be No More (Heavy Vocals) 4:49

Band members
Hansi Kürsch – vocals
André Olbrich – lead, rhythm and acoustic guitars
Marcus Siepen – rhythm and acoustic guitars
Frederik Ehmke – drums

Guest musicians
Barend Courbois – bass (session)
Thomas Geiger – keyboards, effects (session)
Joost van den Broek – keyboards on “Life Beyond The Spheres”
Marcela Bovio, Marjan Welman, Olaf Senkbeil, Hacky Hackmann & John “Jaycee” Cuijpers – backing vocals

Album Review – Inkvisitor / Doctrine of Damnation (2015)

If you want to be indoctrinated into frenzied and rousing heavy music, the brand new album by this talented platoon of thrash metallers is exactly what you need.

Rating4

coverStrongly inspired by the blazing musicality generated by the most prominent bands from the Bay Area Thrash movement, especially names such as Anthrax and Testament, Finnish thrash metallers Inkvisitor (the Swedish word for “inquisitor”) are set to release their debut full-length album Doctrine of Damnation, aiming at indoctrinating all of us into their high-quality frenetic music. And what they do in this album, joining the strength of American Thrash Metal with the Scandinavian proficiency in crafting harmonious and melodic music, will help them achieve their purpose without a shadow of a doubt.

Formed in 2012, this Jyväskylä-based band has really improved as a whole if you listen to their previous release, their 2014 EP entitled Delirious Tales, in terms of cohesion and aggressiveness of their music and content of their lyrics. They’re still a Thrash Metal band who loves to have fun with their music above all, of course, but now with a stronger focus on all aspects of the album production, such as the amazing old school artwork by Mad Matt Design and the deluxe sound quality, the final result is a lot more robust and pleasant to listen to.

Can you guess what comes after the intro MMXV A.D.? If your answer is “pure old school Thrash Metal” you’re absolutely right, as the epic and devastating Damnation already pumps the listener up with its strong Anthrax-inspired vibe, especially the deranged vocals by Aapo Vuori and the sick riffs by Lauri Huttunen and Jesse Kämäräinen. And why slow down if you can accelerate the savagery like they do in nataS ageM (or “Mega Satan” if you read it backwards)? Its lyrics are an ode to old school Thrash Metal, in special its chorus (“The power of nature, pure anarchy / The regin of eternity and absolute / Lord of destruction, original chaos / He is the one true MEGA SATAN”), and I don’t know if you agree with me but I can easily visualize the iconic Joey Belladonna manically singing those words. I would even say that if the band was called “Pernarutto” instead that would make total sense (Google it and you will understand why).

promo1pFocusing on a heavier sonority, the band tells a fun and creepy story of abduction that seems to be part of a B-horror flick in Abduction at Night, where drummer Petteri Milan has a good time switching from his rhythmic drumming to brutal blast beats, while Three Phases of Disembodiment showcases another interesting (but this time gory) story told by Inkvisitor. Moreover, its guitar lines keep the energy level high, with Aapo screaming and yelling his vocal lines to provide even more adrenaline to the music. And J-Town Anthem, their tribute to their hometown Jyväskylä, works as an intro to Eine Box (Mobile Shredding Unit), a song with a similar musicality from “Abduction at Night” where Inkvisitor once again deliver solid riffs, wicked vocals and huge doses of electricity through their music.

Mixing the speed from Megadeth and Testament with the attitude from Anthrax, fans of old school metal music will love the organic shredding and solos offered by Inkvisitor in Nothing to Live For. However, it’s in Hellbound For Carnal Knowledge that they reach another level of destruction in a little more than two minutes of pure headbanging, mosh pits and screaming. Its lyrics pay an awesome tribute to one of the best horror movies of all time, the disturbing 1987 classic Hellraiser (“Woke up with this / Puzzle in my hand / A tune so pretty lured me to open it / Carnal knowledge from another dimension / What have I done / I’m torn to pieces”), and I don’t need to say that if they don’t play this song live, we riot. Lastly, closing the album in an exciting way, Inkvisitor sing about the power of the gods in Claim What is Yours, with highlights to its fuming guitars flawlessly supported by the solid bass lines by Pekka Hölönen and the precise beats by Petteri.

It doesn’t matter if you get in touch with Inkvisitor through their Facebook page, YouTube or SoundCloud, and if you buy their album at their BandCamp page  or at their official webstore, as long as you show your sincere support for these amazing newcomers of thrash I’m sure they will keep delivering awesome metal music to all of us. As previously mentioned, Inkvisitor are trying to indoctrinate us into their nonstop Thrash Metal music, summoning us all to go crazy into the pit, so why not give these guys a chance? They surely deserve it.

Best moments of the album: Damnation, nataS ageM and Hellbound For Carnal Knowledge.

Worst moments of the album: Eine Box (Mobile Shredding Unit).

Released in 2015 Haje Records

Track listing
1. MMXV A.D. 1:15
2. Damnation 3:43
3. nataS ageM 4:06
4. Abduction at Night 4:24
5. Three Phases of Disembodiment 4:06
6. J-Town Anthem 0:56
7. Eine Box (Mobile Shredding Unit) 4:47
8. Nothing to Live For 4:27
9. Hellbound For Carnal Knowledge 2:03
10. Claim What is Yours 5:24

Band members
Aapo Vuori – vocals
Lauri Huttunen – guitar
Jesse Kämäräinen – guitar
Petteri Milan – drums

Guest musicians
Pekka Hölönen – bass
Kalle Raijonkari – additional vocals
JC Halttunen – additional vocals