I should probably preface this review by stating I'm more than touch of a Blind Guardian (BG) fanboy and may sound a bit biased. I've loved pretty much every single thing they've ever done, loved it A LOT. Having said that, I've treated their last couple of albums the same way I've treated recent Maiden (or insert favorite long running band here) albums; yes, they're awesome and when they first come out I listen to them a good bit, but after that newness wears off and I'm in the mood for the band, I typically find myself going back to the classics.

With that in mind, I was excited when BG announced this album as a sequel (20 years later) to the story on Imaginations from the Other Side. Of course, I instantly started wishing for musical styling of that era to sneak in. Since the release of Nightfall in Middle-Earth, the band has leaned heavily on progressive influences and definitely on the classical/symphonic passages. These are what made the band so great, but many would argue that they overuse them now. Personally, I didn't mind them as much as some fans have, but I could definitely see how they didn't enjoy it as much. Those people may want to keep moving because Beyond the Red Mirror is a culmination of their recent output. However, for longtime fans to completely write this album off would be goddamn foolish.

From the opening minutes, it's obvious the band went for the grandiose. They utilize two different orchestras and three different choirs spanning three different countries. This album is larger than life and has so many layers. It's simply impossible for one to digest the release in a single serving. For instance, the opening track takes almost 3 minutes until it gets going and at first I wasn't too into it, now multiple listens later I'm loving it and taking the album as a whole. That's some that really suits this album, complete listens.

The signature sound is completely intact here and what made them the best power metal band of all time still shines bright. All of that is present while BG continues to push themselves into the world of progressive and symphonic metal. This is done without completely alienating longtime fans. I don't know how someone that loved their middle era can't be incredibly excited with songs like Twilight of the Gods, Prophecies, The Holy Grail, and more. The highly underrated guitarists in the band have their signature sound reigning strong and their influence is undeniable. I have to say, Beyond the Red Mirror also has some of the heaviest stuff BG have written.

My only gripe, and apparently many other fan's, is some of the production. At times it's muddy and flat. The bass drums seem buried in many places. Thankfully, the production isn't a complete deterrent and after a few listens it's something that I'm accustomed to. However, I'd prefer to not get accustomed to a sound. It is a touch strange how something recorded two decades ago can sound more powerful than this. You would hope for a recording utilizing large choirs and on orchestras to sound full, like they achieved on And Then There Was Silence a few albums back.

Blind Guardian have done some wonderful things over their many, many years of existence. They've continually evolved from speed metal, to power metal, to mixing that all together with prog and classical. Now, in 2015, they're a fully realized band that can pull the reins back and let loose at will. Beyond the Red Mirror shows one of the best metal bands in full control.