The making of Blind Guardian’s Imaginations From the Other Side
Blind Guardian’s journey to their fifth album, Imaginations From the Other Side, wasn’t all that different from most bands of their era. Formed as Lucifer’s Heritage in 1984, the quartet—featuring bassist/vocalist Hansi Kürsch, guitarists André Olbrich and Marcus Siepen, and drummer Thomen Stauch—bent the tenets of speed metal to their Teutonic will on two demos, Symphonies of Doom (1985) and Battalions of Fear (1986). For all intents and purposes, the Ruhr Valley residents were just another blue-collar rust belt band. A moniker change from Lucifer’s Heritage to Blind Guardian—and a deal with German indie No Remorse Records—changed all that in 1987.
With the release of Blind Guardian’s debut Battalions of Fear in 1987 and its follow-up, Follow the Blind, two years later, the Germans had set much of the framework that would reinforce Imaginations From the Other Side’s compositional bombast, conceptual depth, masterly musicianship and overall attitude. Kürsch funneled his zest for sci-fi, fantasy, horror and history into the lyrics. For example, “Guardian of the Blind” was inspired by Stephen King’s novel It, while “Banish From Sanctuary” was based on Judean preacher John the Baptist. Both releases were unvarnished (if highly spirited) speed metal courtesy of Olbrich and Kürsch’s twentysomething fury.
Hard work, home studio investments and exponential musical development culminated in Tales From the Twilight World in 1990 and appeared to zenith on Somewhere Far Beyond in 1992, respectively. Blind Guardian were no longer just a speed metal act, but evolving into something more, a sound entirely their own. Speed metal, power metal, classical music, folk music, and a penchant for classic and old-school rock ‘n’ roll coalesced instinctively. “Welcome to Dying,” “Lord of the Rings” and “The Bard’s Song – In the Forest” reinforced the group’s burgeoning individuality, prompting heavy interest in Germany and near-fanatical worship in Japan.
When Imaginations landed in 1995, it was met with acclaim. Launch single “A Past and Future Secret,” combined with the mighty title track, were portals into a wild new world. The aggression of the past had manifested in an intensely epic fashion. “I’m Alive,” “Born in a Mourning Hall” and “Another Holy War” were undeniable bolters, the pummeling drums of Stauch warring with Olbrich and Siepen’s cyclopean rhythms and wild-eyed melodicisms only complemented Kürsch’s big-voiced admonitions to society as lensed through a fantasy-based perspective. The expansiveness of “The Script for My Requiem,” the blend into “Mordred’s Song” and the second single, “Bright Eyes,” winged Blind Guardian into the stratosphere.
Truly, the Germans had ascended not to Iron Maiden levels of yesteryear, but beyond anything they could’ve imagined in 1987. The production of famed studio ace Flemming Rasmussen bolstered everything he touched. Imaginations From the Other Side, replete with stunningly meticulous cover art by Andreas Marschall, not only exemplified the New Wave of German Heavy Metal—a term coined by German Metal Hammer in 1987—but set the high-water mark for everything at the time, and all that was to come after it.
Imaginations From the Other Side celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2020. We’re belated in hoisting Blind Guardian’s grandiloquent banner, but considering we embarked on this induction in 2019, completing the Hall of Fame all these years later makes up for missing out on the group’s birthday cake silver. Time to jump through the mirror with Blind Guardian.
Need more classic Blind Guardian? To read the entire seven-page story, featuring interviews with the members who performed on Imaginations From the Other Side, purchase the print issue from our store, or digitally via our app for iPhone/iPad or Android.