Germany's Blind Guardian perfected a fusion of gothic- and fantasy-tinged European power metal with the velocity and technical precision of speed metal. The band issued Battalions of Fear in 1988, following it with Follow the Blind a year later. Released in 1990, Tales from the Twilight World became an underground hit and led to a deal with Japan's division of Virgin Records; their major-label debut, Somewhere Far Beyond, was released in 1992. Blind Guardian hooked up with former Metallica producer Flemming Rasmussen for 1995's Imaginations from the Other Side. Issued in 1996, The Forgotten Tales, a collection of covers and alternate versions, set the stage for 1998's Nightfall in Middle-Earth, a Tolkien-inspired concept album. ~ Steve Huey
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