Sunday, June 5, 2011

In depth analysis Blind Guardian - Nightfall in Middle Earth

Genre: Power Metal
Rating: 10/10

What to say about this album, that hasn't been said before. There are hundreds of reviews about this masterpiece, so in this analysis I will not try to review it again, but to analyze song by song and complete story behind the songs , and also sheer complexity behind this, by my opinions best album from this band. That was album that introduced me to Blind Guardian.

When I first opened booklet I saw dedication to J.R.R. Tolkien, and instantly I was so thrilled, because I'm great fan of Tolkien's books and work. This album is musical adaptation of the book The Silmarillion by J.R.R.Tolkien ( The book by itself is very complex with many characters and stories, it is actually a collection of  Tolkien's mythopoeic works, edited and published posthumously by his son Christopher Tolkien in 1977, with assistance from Guy Gavriel Kay who later became a noted fantasy writer. The Silmarillion, along with J. R. R. Tolkien's other works, forms a comprehensive, yet incomplete, narrative that describes the universe of Middle-earth within which The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings take place.

Let me say before the analysis that this view of album and songs is my own, there is no guarantee that songs resemble exactly on those parts of the book that I think they do, being fan of Tolkien and BG, I listened this album countless number of times and after few readings of Silmarillion I think I found almost true song meanings, so let's start.

Let me just say that all images used in this review are found on the internet, I'm not owner or author of those.
All rights belong to they respective owners, I'm just using them in educational purposes, no profit will be done from it. So thank you for letting me have these, if you have any problem with me using your image, write me a mail and I'll remove it from the post. Also I would like to thank wikipedia for some useful information.

The albums consists of total 22 songs, some of them being short musical parts or narrations, but nonetheless they match in whole picture of the album perfectly, they tie storyline and make atmosphere of the album more gloomy and epic, and that's what it's meant to be.


  1. "War of Wrath" – 1:50
  2. "Into the Storm" – 4:24
  3. "Lammoth" – 0:28
  4. "Nightfall" – 5:34
  5. "The Minstrel" – 0:32
  6. "The Curse of Fëanor" – 5:41
  7. "Captured" – 0:26
  8. "Blood Tears" – 5:23
  9. "Mirror Mirror" – 5:07
  10. "Face the Truth" – 0:24
  11. "Noldor (Dead Winter Reigns)" – 6:51
  12. "Battle of Sudden Flame" – 0:44
  13. "Time Stands Still (At the Iron Hill)" – 4:53
  14. "The Dark Elf" – 0:23
  15. "Thorn" – 6:18
  16. "The Eldar" – 3:39
  17. "Nom the Wise" – 0:33
  18. "When Sorrow Sang" – 4:25
  19. "Out on the Water" – 0:44
  20. "The Steadfast" – 0:21
  21. "A Dark Passage" – 6:01
  22. "Final Chapter (Thus Ends...)" – 0:48
Track 1. War of Wrath

Sounds of battle take us into this magnificent record in this first let's call it intro, no music just conversation between Morgoth and Sauron, we hear clash of the swords and catapults and huge battlefield and then them talking. It's about about the fall of Morgoth and the rise of Sauron as the Enemy of the Valar.
The ruin he left behind is the destruction of the two trees. It's actually going on after the second track, looking on the time-line, and it actually resembles Morgoth thoughts after the destruction of the two trees, because destruction of the two trees occur in the next track. It's like starting the story from somebody's thoughts, and that what BG wanted to do here, to take us into the whole story movie-like, like when main characters tells the story from his mind, starting from the beginning.

Track 2. Into the Storm

This was the first BG song that I ever heard, I was instantly blown away with that intro riff and power that comes from this track. Atmosphere is so powerful and strong that it instantly takes you into this great battlefield witnessing Morgoth's attack on Great Trees and stealing of Simlarills.
This song is about when Ungoliant poisens The Two Trees Of Valinor And When Morgoth Slays Finwe and Steels the Silmarills and then he breaks his promise to give them to Ungoliant. Because deal was when Ungoliant poisones the trees she will have Silmarills as reward but Morgoth had another plans for gems of treelight.

Track 3. Lammoth

It's not song or dialogue, it'a actually one big scream.

Lammoth is a region in Beleriand, in the northwest of Middle-earth, north of the Firth of Drengist and between Ered Lómin (the Echoing Mountains) and the shore of Belegaer (the Great Sea).
It was also the site of the Battle of the Lammoth fought between Fingolfin and the Orcs of Morgoth
Lammoth means "the Great Echo", and it is named such because it is where Morgoth and Ungoliant fled after the darkening of Valinor and Morgoth's theft of the Silmarils. Ungoliant lusted for the Silmarils and she attacked Morgoth in order to get them. He let out a great cry, which echoed throughout the north of Middle-earth (as it is told in the Silmarillion). 

Track 4. Nightfall

This is one of the most beautiful songs BG ever made, it's such great song, gloomy and sad. It's truly one of BG's classics, when I heard this song live i started to cry from atmosphere, this song truly touches our immortal old souls. It is about the darkening of Valinor when Ungoloant  sucked the light and life from the Two Trees, Morgoth taken the Silmarils, and Feanor and his kin leaving Valinor for Middle Earth to wage war with Morgoth. It's such complex masterpiece of song, with many narrations from the book. Only BG can picture us such great atmosphere from the book with their music.

Track 5. The Minstrel

It is short musical piece, by my opinion introducing Maedhros (, eldest of the seven sons of Fëanor.
The song talks about his point of view after Morgoth steals the Silmarills and destroys Trees of light.

Track 6. The Curse of Fëanor

So strong and powerful song, too bad they never play it live, great guitar works and riffs, so many background solos and decorations. Great lyrics.
This song represents the madness which Fëanor had befallen after the Silmarills were stolen.
Last part of the song is done from the perspective of dead Fëanor, he is saying that, even in the Halls of Mandos after his death, he cannot find release from the memories of his deeds. And although he is physically dead, his thoughts and memories are not. He can look at everything differently now, since he is no longer blinded by madness and rage.

Track 7. Captured

Intro for the song Blood Tears. Maedhros was taken captive and hung by the wrist of his right hand upon Thangorodrim in great pain.

Track 8. Blood Tears 

Awesome dark and atmospheric song, so sad and melancholic, but beautiful at the same time. Also they never play it live, too bad. Maedhros was captured by Morgoth in and chained to Thangorodrim (the mountains surrounding Angband) Fingon asked the Valar to send aid. They sent eagles and Thorondor. Fingon had to cut off Maedhros's hand in order to set him free.

Track 9. Mirror Mirror

Another fast epic masterpiece, great chorus and many awesome parts, with choirs and many dialogues
Turgon's undoing was his inability to abandon Gondolin in the end. He knew that Morgoth had finally discovered his whereabouts and was soon to bring all his wrath down on them. Against all hope, Turgon couldn't abandon it because he spent so long building up the city and it had grown so proud and beautiful. The song is about Turgon's story as a whole, but the 'Mirror Mirror on the wall' lines represent how his vanity subtly dominates his thoughts and twists his judgment as he decides how best to lead his people even though he knows the answer all along - True hope lies beyond the coast.

Track 10. Face the Truth 

Intro dialogue for next song, Noldor.
It is about Doom of Mandos, after crossing the Helcaraxe.

Track 11. Noldor (Dead Winter Reigns)

This song is beautiful, it has such epic touch, I remembered walking in the dark winter evenings with my mp3 player and listening to this song, while snow was silently falling, I could easily imagine noldors crossing ice wastes of Araman. This is also one of those songs that they never play live. Noldor (meaning those with knowledge in Quenya) are Elves of the Second Clan who migrated to Valinor and lived in Eldamar. The Noldor are called Golodhrim or Gódhellim in Sindarin, and Goldoi by Teleri of Tol Eressëa. The singular form of the Quenya noun is Noldo and the adjective is Noldorin. They were the Second Clan of the Elves in both order and size, the other clans being the Vanyar and the Teleri. They typically had grey eyes and dark hair (except for those who had Vanyarin blood, most prominently the members of the House of Finarfin.This song deals with Doom of Mandos. That was the curse that Mandos himself laid upon the Noldor, specifically Feanor and all who followed him. Those were nearly the whole houses of Feanor and Fingolfin, and some of the house of Finarfin. It does take the perspective of Mandos and Fingolfin, as well as Feanor. It mostly just deals with the journey of the Helcaraxe. Araman, mentioned towards the beginning is the Northern coastline of Valinor, beginning where Pelori breaks off into 3 ridgelines and continuing up to the Helcaraxe. The Pelori is the principle mountain range in Valinor placed there for defence against Morgoth. Last part of the song is from the perspective of Fingolfin and his kin being abandoned by Feanor.

Track 12. Battle of Sudden Flame

Dagor Bragollach (Sindarin for Battle of Sudden Flame) was the fourth battle of the Wars of Beleriand. It was the great turning point in the War of the Jewels.

Track 13. Time Stands Still (At the Iron Hill)

Another epic masterpiece, sounds like whole orchestra is behind the band. Great guitar works and main and background solos. This song calls you to mount a horse and ride into battle.
After defeating the Orcs in the Dagor Aglareb, Fingolfin maintained the Siege of Angband for nearly 400 years. But the Siege was ended by Morgoth's sudden assaults in the Dagor Bragollach, and many peoples of Beleriand fled. When Fingolfin learned of this, and received false report that his allies had been routed on all fronts, he became filled with wrath and despair. He immediately took his horse Rochallor and sword Ringil, and rode alone to Angband. All enemies fled from him, fearing his anger, and mistaking him in his fury for Oromë, the Vala patron of hunters.
He smote the gates of Angband and challenged Morgoth to single combat. Though Morgoth feared Fingolfin (of all the Valar, Morgoth was the only one to know fear), he had to accept the challenge — or face shame in the eyes of his servants. Seven times Fingolfin wounded Morgoth and seven times Morgoth cried in pain, and seven times the host of Morgoth wailed in anguish, but he could not be slain for he was one of the Valar.
Whenever Morgoth attacked, Fingolfin would evade, avoiding Morgoth's weapon Grond as it would crack the ground. Eventually, however, Fingolfin grew weary and stumbled on a crater. Then Morgoth pinned Fingolfin with his foot, and killed him, but not before the king, with his last act of defiance, hewed at Morgoth's foot. Morgoth, from thence forward, always walked with a limp. An enraged Morgoth sought to desecrate the body of the valiant king but Thorondor, Lord of Eagles flew down and raked Morgoth's eyes, and carried Fingolfin's body away to be placed on a cliff overlooking Gondolin. Later Turgon built a cairn over the remains of his father.

Track 14. Dark Elf

Only one chant like line.
It is about Maeglin of Gondolin. His father was Eöl the dark elf.
It is actually intro for the next song, Thorn.

Track 15. Thorn

This song is about life of Maeglin and his whole personality. It so dark and powerful song, very complex and deep, like all songs on this album. Again great performance by the band, it's not simple song like guitars and bass and drums, there are layers and layers of keyboards, piano, guitars and evrything. One of my all time favorite songs. It's also the song they almost never play live, they played it few times on the 98'' tour when this album came out.

Track 16. The Eldar

We have piano track here, Hansi and piano, beautiful mixture, very sad ballad about the death of Finrod.
The name Finrod is a Sindarin form of his Telerin (Quenya) name Findaráto, with the approximate meaning "Mighty descendant of Finwë". (More fully it was Findaráto Ingoldo, including the name given by his mother which was never translated.) Artafinde was the proper Noldorin Quenya version of Findarato. Felagund was an epessë given to him by the Dwarves who expanded the caves of Nargothrond, and meant "Hewer of Caves". It is not Sindarin, but rather Sindarized Khuzdul. Another name given to Finrod was Nóm ("Wisdom"). It was given to him by Bëor and his followers. His other titles include: King/Lord of Nargothrond, Friend-of-Men.

Track 17. Nom the Wise

It is short narration piece. It is Beren thanking Finrod for saving his life and, in turn, giving up his own. 

Track 18. When Sorrow Sang

Very sad but also powerful and fast song, what to say, another masterpiece. Great guitar work, awesome riffs and melodies, everytime I hear the chorus it blows me away.
This song is about Beren waitin in the halls of Mandos, refusing to go where mortal men go when they die because Luthien cannot go there because she is an elf. Also Beren is awaitng  for the judgement of Mandos who is listening to Luthien's song of sorrow. Luthien must become mortal and give immortality for love, in order to spend eternity with her loved one. Also another song that they never play live, they played it only on 98' tour. C'mon BG why not play such masterpiece songs live.

Track 19. Out on the Water

Another short track. It reffers to Tol Galeon, green Isle that lay between two arms of the River Adurant in the south of Ossiriand. There Beren and Lúthien lived out their mortal lives.

Track 20. The Steadfast

Intro for the song A Dark Passage, Morgoth prepares for and proclaims himself as king of the world and master of fate and boasts his greatnes no matter that he hasn't beaten the elves..

Track 21. A Dark Passage

Last song of the album, and of course another masterpiece, massive chorus, great guitars and beautiful melodies. This song is about 5th battlle, called Nirnaeth Arnoediad (The battle of Unnumbered Tears )
Nirnaeth Arnoediad

Chorus in sung from a Morgoth's perspective, Hurin is captured and forced to witness Morgoth's growing power, and his people befalling to sorrow. Also the arrival of man is mentioned in this song, men arrive from the east and betray the elves. In other words climax worth this great album and tale. Yet another song they never play live.

Track 22. Final Chapter (Thus ends)

Narration that condludes one of the greatest metal albums of all time. When this starts you fingers slowly are moving towards ''play again all tracks'' button

Let's say some critics in the end, well I don't have any critics at all, this album is masterpiece and everything is so great, and blend perfectly, the only remark that I have would be production which can be little murky at some points. Near the end of Noldor and Thorn we have beautiful piano in the background, but it hardly can be heard because of sometimes not so good production. I have remastered edition and still I'm not satisfied with how that sounds. I think that such great album deserves better production, especially when there are so many instrument and songs are so complex. But nevertheless this is awesome album that those little flaws cannot move away from it's title and it is Masterpiece.
In conclusion let's just say that you should read Silmarillion if you haven't yet, it's great book, worthy your time, especially if you love fantasy books like I do. Also BG did a great job trying to put this very deep and complex book in musical piece. They captured only one piece of the whole story, because it would need many albums and songs to capture whole book. this is by my opinion of the best albums of all time, and deserves to be listened even if you're not into this story at all, simply musically is awesome, and it's great especially when you're familiar with Silmarillion. So if you like power metal, or not, if you just like metal, listen to this great piece of music, it deserves a place in every true metalhead's collection.

Next week: In depth analysis Blind Guardian: At the Edge of Time

Stay Tuned :)


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