By Pat Prince
Blind Guardian‘s symphonic take on heavy metal has amassed a huge following worldwide. The band’s multi-layered sound has experimented with orchestral elements, Celtic folk influences and J.R.R. Tolkien themes (1995’s concept album “Nightfall In Middle-Earth”). The band has recently released “Memories Of A Time To Come,” a compilation album of re-recorded and remixed songs that spans the band’s entire discography, to celebrate Blind Guardian’s 25th anniversary.
The following 10 Albums That Changed My Life by Marcus Siepen (far left in band photo, courtesy of EMI Music), one of the two guitarists in Blind Guardian, is a good example of how “progressive song structures” have had an impact on the evolution of the band’s sound.
1. Iron Maiden, “Killers”
The album that started it all for me. I heard the song “Purgatory” on BFBS radio (yes, back then there was metal on the radio …) and was blown away completely. It was the best thing I have ever heard and still is one of my fave songs. The next day I immediately bought “Killers,” and this album turned me into a metalhead.
2. Black Sabbath, “Greatest Hits”
Black Sabbath have always been one of my favorite bands and Tony Iommi is definitely my biggest influence as a guitar player. I was still learning how to play guitar when I got this album and I have no idea how much time I spent in my room, my guitar in hands, trying to figure out how to play “Iron Man,” “Paranoid” or “N.I.B.”
3. Fates Warning, “Awaken the Guardian”
I guess this is still my very favorite album of all time. Whenever I listen to any of the songs, they immediately take me to a different universe and I get completely lost in John Arch’s lyrics, and the fantastic melody lines from the vocals and guitars … pure magic!
4. Pink Floyd, “Delicate Sound of Thunder”
Back when I was a kid, “Another Brick in the Wall” was one of the first songs that really attracted me, but I didn’t know much about Pink Floyd aside from that one song. At some point I bought this album because I thought a live album might give me a good overview about the band, and the album completely changed my view on lead guitars forever! Everybody was into shredding, but David Gilmour only had to play one note to wipe away all the shredders. To me the best live album of all times and David is my fave lead guitar player!
5. Jethro Tull, “Broadsword and the Beast”
I had never heard anything about Jethro Tull when I bought this album — actually the cover attracted me — but when I listened to their music they had a similar impact on me like Maiden some years earlier. I immediately started to buy pretty much their whole back catalog. Jethro Tull opened me up for completely new influences, their folk stuff, their very progressive song structures… a very important album for me as a musician.
6. Rainbow, “Rising”
I discovered this album through Dio. I loved “Heaven & Hell” and “Mob Rules,” and only when he released “Holy Diver” did I find out that he already did some albums with Rainbow, so I had to get them as well. To me “Rising” is THE perfect Hard Rock album, full of absolutely timeless classics, the production still sounds great and I just wish I could have seen them live back then.
7. Various artists, “Jesus Christ Superstar” Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
The best rock opera ever, period! I have watched it live many times, but unfortunately no performance ever came even close to what Ted Neeley and Carl Anderson deliver on this recording. Yes, I think the movie version is MUCH better than the one with Gillan (the 1970 concept album).
8. Basil Poledouris, “Conan the Barbarian” [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]
I am not the biggest fan of classical music, I prefer movie scores, and this soundtrack is the best of them all, even better than Star Wars! This is one of the few CDs that I always have with me wherever I am.
9. Metallica, “Ride the Lightning”
I knew “Kill ’em All,” but I have to admit that I was not really impressed. To me the album was “only” okay and a bit overrated (I still think like that), so I didn’t really expect too much when I first listened to “Ride the Lightning” and I had no idea what was about to hit me… Many people prefer “Master of Puppets,” but to me “Ride the Lightning” has always been the best Metallica album. Speed/Thrash in perfection!
10. Rush, “Grace Under Pressure”
Surprise, surprise, I am not listing “Moving Pictures.” “Grace Under Pressure” was my first Rush album and it still impresses me big time — what huge walls of sound those three guys can create, even live on stage, without all the options you have in the studio. I love this band, and actually many of their albums deserve a place on this list, but I guess “Grace Under Pressure” will always be my fave. Maybe because it was my first contact with this band.