Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Blind Guardian - Imaginations from the Other Side Live (2020)

Blind Guardian already has at least three live offerings that I can remember, all being good; 2003's Live probably remaining my favorite of them, but none of them a disappointment, and one of them, Live Beyond the Spheres being quite elaborate in all the history it covers from their discography. So I don't think the market was really chomping at the bit for another, but this is quite a popular band, so this and many more are inevitable. Also, this one has the distinction of being one of those 'played in full' performances, all the rage in recent years, though they've been around for decades. It's recorded in Germany, the band's home turf, and it's Imaginations from the Other Side, my second favorite Blind Guardian album. I'd have loved to see this myself, but I'm happy to settle with this just to hear what I was missing out on...

It's the whole shebang, all nine tracks, played in the order they appear on the studio version, sounding heavy and driven and pretty damn good, though there are a few nuances missing on the stage. For example, the volumes are often a little lopsided, with the rhythm guitar being pretty weak against the drums, vocals, effects, and leads, but it's still something you can make out well enough to support the songs and keep them thundering along. There's a hovering din of audience noise, and the effects like bells and such are amplified here, giving the whole affair a more vaulted effect than the more direct, balanced production of the original. Hansi does sound quite good, getting pretty aggressive and almost turning to extreme metal vocals in a few places, while the backing shouts also sound pretty energized. You'll also get your singalong moments that every Blind Guardian show needs as it goes dweeby, especially here with "A Past and Future Secret", and you can just hear all the lighters popping off (actually I have no idea if they allow for this in Germany but you get what I'm saying).

Hearing favorites like "The Script for My Requiem", "Another Holy War", "Born in a Mourning Hall" and especially the title track and "Bright Eyes", is all I really need to get put in a good mood, because I love this fucking band and that's not about to change even with a subpar live offering. Which this isn't, but I think of the four, if I were going on balance and quality alone, I might not choose it over the three others I've covered; but then, it's Imaginations from the Other Side, I get goosebumps hearing it, and it features a couple tunes that you're obviously not going to hear on all their live tours. Everything sounds adequate, as processed as you'd expect from their modern era, I just think such powerful songs need some more powerful rhythm guitars, but then in my head I already know how these tunes sprawl out so I was able to fill in some of those gaps inwardly. If you haven't heard this stuff, obviously get the studio disc immediately and study it meticulously, but this also isn't a bad introduction to how one of their shows just charges you up, although I've only seen them once in person. Thumbs, and lighters, up.

Verdict: Win [7.25/10]

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