Blind Guardian is a German heavy metal band formed in the mid-1980s in Krefeld, West Germany. The band is often credited as one of the seminal and most influential bands in power metal and speed metal subgenres,   being part of the German heavy/speed/power metal scene that included Helloween, Running Wild, Accept, Grave Digger, Sinner, and Rage.
Blind Guardian lyrics, written by vocalist Hansi Kürsch, are inspired by the fiction of authors such as J. R. R. Tolkien, Stephen King, and Michael Moorcock, as well as traditional legends and epics. Over the years, a running theme has developed associating the band members with traveling bards.
Blind Guardian was formed in 1985 in Krefeld, Germany, by Hansi Kürsch (vocals, bass) and Andre Olbrich (guitar). Before calling themselves Blind Guardian, the band released two demos under the name Lucifer's Heritage in 1985 and 1986. In the first few years, the band underwent chaotic lineup changes: Markus Dörk (guitar) and Thomen Stauch (drums) were replaced by Christof Theißen and Hans-Peter Frey, respectively. Finally, in 1987 Marcus Siepen joined and Thomen came back to form the lineup which would stay consistent for the next 18 years.
After Lucifer's Heritage signed a contract with No Remorse Records, the band changed its name to Blind Guardian to avoid any speculations about Satanism. They released their debut album Battalions of Fear in 1988, which was essentially a speed metal album heavily influenced by Helloween. These two German bands had close ties, and Helloween founder Kai Hansen made a guest appearance on Blind Guardian's second LP, Follow the Blind (1989), where the band began leaning towards power metal. Their third LP, Tales from the Twilight World (1990), had a much more melodic and "epic" feeling, with usage of choir and classical music influence.
Blind Guardian signed with Virgin Records in 1991 and released the album Somewhere Far Beyond (1992), and the live album Tokyo Tales (1993). Flemming Rasmussen, former Metallica producer, began working with Blind Guardian, producing Imaginations from the Other Side (1995) and The Forgotten Tales (1996), an album that contained half covers and half original work.
In 1998 Blind Guardian released their epic album Nightfall in Middle-Earth. "Complete with anthemic choruses, spoken word story lines, and plenty of bombastic power metal punctuating every dramatic turn", says Allmusic's Vincent Jeffries, "Nightfall in Middle-Earth is perhaps Blind Guardian's most triumphant". A concept album based on J. R. R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion, Blind Guardian's music demonstrated some folk rock influence, but also featured heavy use of Queen-style layered backing vocals. Since "Nightfall", Blind Guardian bass guitar is played by sessional member Oliver Holzwarth, and Hansi can pay all his attention to singing exclusively. It was also the last Blind Guardian album produced by Rasmussen.
A Night at the Opera, named after the Queen album, was released four years after. On this album, the band's sound lacked almost all influence of their original speed metal. Power and progressive metal abound, with over the top orchestral backing and a consistent vocal and guitar layering throughout. Though not a true concept album, many of the lyrics dealt with the common themes of religion and relations between human and divine powers. It was followed by a live album in 2003 and a DVD, Imaginations Through the Looking Glass (2004), which was the last recorded Blind Guardian material to feature Thomen Stauch on drums. He left the band due to musical differences and was replaced by Frederik Ehmke. The first album with Ehmke was A Twist in the Myth, which came out in 2006.
Blind Guardian release their 10th album titled "At The Edge Of Time" on August 7 2010. The album contained influences from their past albums and went back into their power/speed metal days. Two of the songs were based on Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series titled: "Ride Into Obsession" and the orchestra "Wheel of Time".
Blind Guardian recently participated in the soundtrack for the In the Name of the King: a Dungeon Siege Tale fantasy movie,(Uwe Boll) which came out in 2008. Hansi Kursch also announced the band's intention to record a theme song for Sacred 2 Fallen Angel RPG video game, the upcoming prequel to Sacred.  According to recent interviews, the song, titled "Sacred", will not be released until their next album as a bonus track. Songwriting for their next album has started and at the same time the band is working with the Orchestral Project. It will be decided at a later date whether they will release a new album or the Orchestral Project first. However there won't be a new album released before 2010 in any case. 
Blind Guardian's first two albums, Battalions of Fear and Follow the Blind, were more in the style of speed metal than their following works. Beginning with their third album Tales from the Twilight World, Blind Guardian gradually began to write more complicated compositions focusing less on speed. As of their sixth album, Nightfall in Middle Earth, Hansi stopped playing bass to focus on singing. At this point the band began to incorporate large amounts of orchestral arrangements, and utilized the technique of overdubing, heavily influenced by the English rock band Queen.
Blind Guardian's music features the staccato guitars and double bass drumming characteristic of power metal, as well as the use of overdubs to create a dense, "epic" sound. This technique, especially notable in the guitar and vocal tracks, creates the impression of a vast army of musicians playing in unison and singing in harmony. This proved significant on all albums after the first two but most particularly on A Night at the Opera which was highly regarded among fans.
Blind Guardian has been working on and off for eight years on an orchestral project writing music about The Lord of the Rings (negotiations failed to be included on the famous The Lord of the Rings film trilogy as the soundtrack, because the band wanted to concentrate on their next album). Although it will not be a power metal album, it will be published under the name of Blind Guardian because it matches the theme of the band's lyrics, according to Hansi and André.
- Hansi Kürsch – vocals (1985–), bass (1985–1997)
- André Olbrich – lead guitar (1985–)
- Marcus Siepen – rhythm guitar (1987–)
- Frederik Ehmke – drums, percussion (2005–)
- Thomas "Thomen" Stauch – drums (1985-2005)
- Markus Dörk – rhythm and lead guitar (Lucifer's Heritage) (1985)
- Christof Theißen – rhythm guitar (Lucifer's Heritage) (1986)
- Hans-Peter Frey – drums (Lucifer's Heritage) (1986)
- Oliver Holzwarth – bass (touring/studio) (1997–)
- Niko Trznadl – bass (live) (1988)
- Alex Holzwarth – drums (live) (2002–2003)
- Mathias Wiesner – keyboards (studio) (1989–)
- Michael Schüren – keyboards (live), grand piano (studio) (1997–)
- Kai Hansen – vocals, guitar solos (1989–1992)
- Thomas Kelleners – vocals (Lucifer's Heritage) (1984)
- Rolf Köhler, Thomas Hackmann – backing vocals (1989–)
- Olaf Senkbeil, Billy King – backing vocals (1990–)
Studio albums Edit
- Battalions of Fear (1988)
- Follow the Blind (1989)
- Tales from the Twilight World (1990)
- Somewhere Far Beyond (1992)
- Imaginations from the Other Side (1995)
- The Forgotten Tales (1996)
- Nightfall in Middle-Earth (1998)
- A Night at the Opera (2002)
- A Twist in the Myth (2006)
- At The Edge Of Time (2010)
- ↑ Blind Guardian. Band: How it started.... Retrieved on 2007-07-15.
- ↑ No Life Till Metal
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 Nuclear Blast: Blind Guardian
- ↑ Rock Hard Magazine
- ↑ Battlions of Fear Review. Retrieved on 2008-02-17.
- ↑ Follow the Blind Review. Retrieved on 2008-02-17.
- ↑ Nightfall in Middle-Earth Review. Retrieved on 2008-02-17.
- ↑ A Night at the Opera Review. Retrieved on 2008-02-17.
- ↑ Various Artists – In the Name of the King. Soundtrack review
- ↑ Hansi's letter to "the Following" fan site
- ↑ Interview with the band
- ↑ Template:Citation
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- ↑ "A New Twist in the Blind Guardian Legacy" by Kenneth Morton
- ↑ Andre Olbrich phone interview; April 08, 2006