Nightfall in Middle-Earth

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Nightfall in Middle-Earth
Studio album by
Released28 April 1998
RecordedJuly 1997 - January 1998
StudioTwilight Hall Studios
Karo Studios
Sweet Silence Studios
Vox Studios
Air-Edel Studios
Label Virgin/Century Media
Producer Flemming Rasmussen, Blind Guardian
Blind Guardian chronology
Imaginations from the Other Side
Nightfall in Middle-Earth
A Night at the Opera
Singles from Nightfall in Middle-Earth
  1. "Mirror Mirror"
    Released: February 7, 1998

Nightfall in Middle-Earth is the sixth full-length studio album by German power metal band Blind Guardian. It was released on April 28, 1998, through Virgin Records. It is a concept album based upon J. R. R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion , a book of tales from the First Age of Middle-earth, recounting the War of the Jewels. [1] [2] [3] The album contains not only songs but also spoken parts narrating parts of the story. The cover represents Lúthien dancing in front of Morgoth. It is widely regarded as one of Blind Guardian's most well-known and well-received albums in their discography. [4] It is also the first album with Oliver Holzwarth as guest musician, playing bass guitar instead of Hansi Kürsch. Nightfall in Middle-Earth was the first album by Blind Guardian to be released in the US. The sales encouraged Century Media to release their entire back catalog in the US in 2007, at which point it was remastered and re-released, with an added bonus track.[ citation needed ]


Musical style

The album has been described as "grandiose" and influenced by progressive rock, and has been compared to Queen's operatic approach with "dense choir-like vocal harmonies set against swirling multi-part guitar lines." Music critics have noted the fast, melodic guitar-work and the use of folk instruments, flutes, violins, and other instruments. The album's songs are varied, with "quick-paced numbers", ballads, and operatic pieces. [4] Metal Hammer described it as "a banquet of medieval/folk, speed/power metal, and Queen-esque vocal twists, complete with interludes to illustrate the plot." [5]

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg [1]
Sputnikmusic 4.5/5 [4]
Metal Storm 7.7/10 [6]

The album has drawn universally positive critical acclaim since its release. Writing for SputnikMusic, Kyle Ward said that on this album "Blind Guardian laid down their finest instrumental performance to date. Everything goes hand in hand with each other, the guitars being nearly always furiously paced and extremely melodic, but not over-the-top and cheesy like many other power metal bands out there." He singled out Hansi Kürsch's vocals for particular praise, writing that "In every aspect and mood, Blind Guardian delivers in the vocal department. Whether the song is amazingly fast and melodic, like “Time Stands Still (At the Iron Hill)” or whether the mood is somber and slow (“The Eldar”) you are sure to be hit in the face with a simply remarkable feat in terms of vocal achievement, one of the finest vocal performances I have ever seen on a metal album." [4] AllMusic's Vincent Jeffries gave a similarly glowing assessment of the album, describing the album as "complete with anthemic choruses, spoken word story lines, and plenty of bombastic power metal punctuating every dramatic turn" and "perhaps Blind Guardian's most triumphant effort." [1] Metal Hammer named it in its lists "the 10 essential symphonic metal albums" [5] and in "the 10 essential power metal albums." [7] ThoughtCo named it one the essential power metal albums. [8]

Track listing

All lyrics are written by Hansi Kürsch; all music is composed by André Olbrich and Hansi Kürsch except where noted.

1."War of Wrath"1:50
2."Into the Storm"4:24
5."The Minstrel"0:32
6."The Curse of Fëanor" (Olbrich, Kürsch, Thomas "Thomen" Stauch and Marcus Siepen)5:41
8."Blood Tears"5:24
9."Mirror Mirror"5:06
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
16."The Eldar" (Olbrich, Kürsch, Michael Schüren)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


Blind Guardian
Guest musicians

Thematic references

The album retells the events in The Silmarillion , beginning with an episode at the end:

  1. In "War of Wrath", Sauron advises his master Morgoth to flee the triumphant Valar in the War of Wrath. Morgoth sends him away and reflects on the events leading up to his defeat.
  2. In "Into the Storm", Morgoth and Ungoliant, fleeing from Valinor after having destroyed the Two Trees, struggle for the possession of the Silmarils.
  3. "Lammoth" is Morgoth's scream of fear. It summons his Balrogs to his aid to fight off Ungoliant.
  4. In "Nightfall", Fëanor and his seven sons mourn the destruction wrought by Morgoth, including the slaying of Finwë, Fëanor's father, and swear to get revenge on him, in spite of the Valar's disapproval.
  5. "The Minstrel" is most likely about Maglor, son of Fëanor, who composed the song "The Fall of the Noldor" based on the Kinslaying.
  6. In "The Curse of Fëanor", Fëanor expresses his wrath and anger and relates the misdeeds he commits, especially the Kinslaying, in pursuit of Morgoth.
  7. In "Captured", Morgoth addresses the captive Maedhros, Fëanor's son, and chains him to the Thangorodrim mountains.
  8. In "Blood Tears", Maedhros relates the horrors of his captivity and his deliverance by Fingon.
  9. "Mirror Mirror" recounts how Turgon, in view of inevitable defeat, builds the city of Gondolin, aided by Ulmo ("The Lord of Water").
  10. In "Face the Truth", Fingolfin reflects about the destiny of the Noldor.
  11. In "Noldor (Dead Winter Reigns)", Fingolfin recounts his Noldor army's passage from the icy waste of Helcaraxë and the prophecy by Mandos about the Noldor's fate; he reflects on his own and his people's guilt and foreshadows their ultimate defeat.
  12. "The Battle of Sudden Flame" refers to the battle in which Morgoth breaks the Siege of Angband using his Balrogs and dragons. The lyrics tell of how Barahir of the House of Bëor, with great loss to his own company, saved the life of the Elven king Finrod Felagund, and in return Finrod swore an oath of friendship to Barahir and all of his kin.
  13. "Time Stands Still (At the Iron Hill)" is about Fingolfin riding to the gates of Angband to challenge Morgoth to a duel. Fingolfin wounds Morgoth seven times but is eventually killed.
  14. "The Dark Elf" refers to Eöl who seduced Turgon's sister and fathered Maeglin, who would eventually betray Gondolin.
  15. "Thorn" is a song describing Maeglin's captivity in Angband and Morgoth trying to convert Maeglin to his side with threats and lies. The title of the song refers to the thorn bushes that hid the outer gates of Gondolin.
  16. "The Eldar" is Elven king Finrod Felagund's farewell to his people, dying from wounds sustained by saving his human friend Beren from a werewolf, thereby fulfilling his oath to the House of Bëor.
  17. In "Nom the Wise", Beren mourns his friend Finrod. Nóm means "wise" and was the name given to Finrod by Beren's forefather Bëor.
  18. In "When Sorrow Sang", Beren sings about his love to the Elven princess Lúthien and his death at the teeth of Morgoth's wolf Carcharoth. Last part is about Mandos listening to Luthien's song about their grief experienced by being different in kin.
  19. "Out on the Water" refers to the last dwelling-place of Beren and Lúthien.
  20. In "The Steadfast", Morgoth curses his captive Húrin (known in Elvish as the Steadfast) who refused to reveal the secret of Gondolin.
  21. In "A Dark Passage", Morgoth ponders his triumph in the fifth battle. The song also relates the origins of the kindred of men and Morgoth's curse on Húrin to be witness to his children's tragic fate.
  22. "Final Chapter (Thus ends ...)" concludes the album, speaking of Morgoth's victory by the "treachery of man" but also of the hope for a new day.
  23. "Harvest of Sorrow" is a bonus track on the 2007 and 2018 remastered versions of the album. Túrin mourns the loss of his sister Niënor.
  24. "Doom" is a bonus track on the 2018 remastered version of the album. The track shows a more detailed account of Húrin being cursed by Morgoth. A slightly rewritten version appears on a limited edition of Beyond the Red Mirror as an epilogue chapter.
  25. "The Tides of War" is a bonus track on the 2018 remastered version of the album. The track tells of the rebellious Noldor arriving in Beleriand to face Morgoth, thinking also about the burning of the Teleri ships at Losgar and the Oath of Fëanor.

The cover art for the album features Lúthien dancing before Morgoth, from "The Tale of Beren and Lúthien".

Related Research Articles

In the works of J. R. R. Tolkien, the Noldor are High Elves of the Second Clan who migrated to Valinor and lived in Eldamar. The Noldor are called Golodhrim or Gódhellim in Sindarin, and Goldui by Teleri of Tol Eressëa. The singular form of the Quenya noun is Noldo and the adjective is Noldorin. 'Noldor' meant 'the Wise', that is those who have great knowledge and understanding. The Noldor indeed early showed the greatest talents of all the Elves both for intellectual pursuits and technical skills. They were the Second Clan of the Elves in both order and size, the other clans being the Vanyar and the Teleri. Like the Teleri, they typically had grey eyes and dark hair. The Noldor Elves were the most intellectually gifted of all the Elves, as well as the strongest and the most proud. The Noldor were the bravest and most powerful people among the Sons of Ilúvatar, with a light in their eyes similar to that of the stars. They fought the greatest wars of which dwarves or men have heard.

Finwë fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkiens legendarium

Finwë, sometimes surnamed Noldóran, is a fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium. He was the first High King of the Elven Noldor to lead his people on the journey from Middle-earth to Valinor in the blessed realm of Aman. He was a great friend of Elu Thingol, the king of Doriath. The story of Finwë and Míriel, his first wife, has been described as an important element of Tolkien's mythology. The Silmarillion, prepared by Christopher Tolkien from his father's unpublished writings, only briefly mentions the tale, although sources suggest that Tolkien had intended to incorporate a fuller version.

Fëanor Character in The Silmarillion

Fëanor is a fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium who plays an important part in The Silmarillion as the creator of the Silmarils, the skilfully-forged jewels that give the book their name and theme. He was the eldest son of Finwë, the High King of the Noldor, and his first wife Míriel Serindë. Fëanor's mother, Míriel, died shortly after giving birth, having given all her strength and essence to him. "For Fëanor was made the mightiest in all parts of body and mind: in valour, in endurance, in beauty, in understanding, in skill, in strength and subtlety alike: of all the Children of Ilúvatar, and a bright flame was in him."

In the fiction of J. R. R. Tolkien, the First Age, or First Age of the Children of Ilúvatar is the heroic period in which most of Tolkien's early legends are set. Versions of these stories were later published in The Silmarillion, and tales from this period lend a deep sense of time and history to the later period in which the action of The Lord of the Rings takes place.

In J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional legendarium, Beleriand was a region in northwestern Middle-earth during the First Age. Events in Beleriand are described chiefly in his work The Silmarillion, which tells the story of the early ages of Middle-earth in a style similar to the epic hero tales of Nordic literature. Beleriand also appears in the works The Book of Lost Tales, The Children of Húrin, and in the epic poems of The Lays of Beleriand.

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