The world depicted in Blind Guardian's song is rich and and various, although it does not seemed like that at a first glance. The first contact with the band's universe is usually through the cover artworks, the official website artwork or the merchandising. It give the impression that Blind Guardian speaks about Fantasy only. This is wrong as a matter of fact. Fantasy is of course a major inspiration for Hansi and André but this is not the only one by far.
Since Fantasy have a central place in the universe painted by the band, let's start with the master itself, J.R.R. Tolkien. Hansi is a big fan of the writer and said he never moved without a copy of The Lord of the Rings. So this is not unexpected to find several references to Middle-Earth in some songs. The signature song The Bard's Song tells us about Bilbo The Hobbit, while several songs refers to various events of the Lord Of The Rings: By The Gates Of Moria, Gandalf's Rebirth, Majesty (the narrator of the song is Aragorn and the chorus a call for him to take Gondor's throne) and of course The Lord Of The Rings. The song Harvest Of Sorrow is about Túrin Turambar and Nienor Niniel (The Tear Maiden will not return - Niniel means Tear Maiden in elvish tongue), brother and sister but also lovers. And last but not least, the chef d'oeuvre of Blind Guardian is the best musical honour ever made to the British author: a concept album entirely about the Silmarillon. Nightfall In Middle-Earth will be analysed in a dedicated article.
Hansi is also fan of another writer whose universe appears regularly in song's lyrics. This person writes novels and short stories that are less in a dream universe than Tolkien: this is Stephen King. The song Guardian Of The Blind is inspired by the novel It (Seven little children stand against the ghost). The novel The Tommyknockers inspired two songs of the album Tales From The Twilight World: Tommyknockers and Altair 4 (which is the name of the star where the ET came from in the novel). The journey of Jack Sawyer in the novel The Talisman is described in Follow The Blind (Searching for the Talisman - On the run to save my love). The fantasy world of the Talisman is actually close to the one in the Dark Tower, the 7 books saga written by King. Hansi refers to it twice: in the song Somewhere Far Beyond (the Wastelands - The Man in Black he waits - One more step to the Dark Tower) and Carry The Blessed Home (I'll turn to "the Red Fields of None").
Other writers have inspired Hansi and André for the lyrics. We can name, in no particular order: Michael Moorcock and its heroes Elric (Damned For All Time, Fast To Madness) and Corum (The Quest For Tanelorn), Franck Herbert and its successful univers Dune (Traveler In Time), the novel Floating Dragon by Peter Straub (Welcome To Dying), Blade Runner (Time What Is Time – Replicant or human), the books of Tad Williams (Otherland), the famous Peter Pan by J.M. Barry (Fly – the lyrics spoke about Neverland, the name of the fantastic island in the novel) and at least the television show Twin Peaks (Black Chamber).
A complete song was dedicated to all those novels that made André and Hansi dreamed all those years: Imaginations From The Other Side. Man can find in the lyrics references to:
- Peter Pan
- The Lord Of the Rings
- The Oz Wizard
- Excalibur, the movie by John Boorman
- Alice In Wonderland
- Narnia, the novel by C.S. Lewis
- The Talisman, by Stephen King and Peter Straub
In addition to fantasy and science fiction literature, there is another theme that appears often in Blind Guardian lyrics. It is not easy to guessed first as it is never shown in the artwork. This is Christianism, a theme you can find in 4 songs, 5 including the instrumental Inquisition, and even more if you count lyrics about subject related to christianity. Except the song Banish From Sanctuary which is about the life of John the Baptist (Baptised with water - I can't understand your famous son), the other songs spoke about the life and fate of Jesus Christ (The Martyr, Sadly Sings Destiny et Precious Jerusalem).
In addition, Christianity is evoked with various historical events like the Crusades (Another Holy War) and the Arthur mythology, the Graal quest actually (The Script For My Requiem). Another historical fact, that could be linked to Christianity depending on the point of view, did inspire Hansi. This is the trial of Galileo by the Holy Inquisition, with a reference in Age Of False Innocence (For a moment it seemed there is space beyond the spheres - Would you like to mess with holy science).
Other various themes inspired the band for its lyrics. In addition to the Graal Quest mentionned above, some songs spoke about the legend of Arthur. The Maiden And The Minstrel Knight tells us the story of Tristan and Iseult: the impossible love between a princess and a knight. Another mythical event inspired Hansi, for two songs: the murder of King Arthur by its illegitimate Mordred. Each song tells the story for the point of view of one character: Merlin for A Past And Future Secret (He is the one who took the sword Out of the Stone - Take Him Back to Avalon) and Mordred for Mordred's Song (My Father's Blood). The Arthur legends were not the only mythology to inspired Hansi, as he used some materials from the Greek and Norse ones also.
More precisely, the band made two references to a major Greek legend: the story of Illiad in the songs And Then There Was Silence and Under The Ice. To be more accurate, it is to the prophecy of Cassandre that the songs spoke about. There is also a mention to the Greek world in Trial By The Archon (Archons were judge in the Greek republic).
Some references to Norse mythology can be found in Valhalla (obviously) and Hall Of The King. The lyrics of those two songs are about the Valhalla itself, which is the Norse version of Heaven, reserved for the warriors if they had a glorious death. However this is subject to caution for Hall of the King. Moreover the lyrics of Wizard's Crown might be about the pagan fest of Samhain.
Finally Hansi et André sometimes mused other more modern facts, further from fantasy or legends. Except the song Another Stranger Me (a song about schizophrenia - Is there anyone else here ? - There is someone else Another stranger me), most of those song lyrics contests against some hot topics: Ronald Reagan policy (Battalions Of Fear - Star wars begin now, The Way of R.R), terrorism (Waiting For An Answer – the lyrics are a fiction and contain thought about violence and hope. They were written after 9/11), ecology (Theatre Of Pain - On a desert we called earth When the last whale went away), and politic (Born In A Mourning Hall - Just sympathy for the higher class - The TV preacher said Just pay today).
The world of Blind Guardian is richer than it seems at first glance. The inspiration is large: Tolkien and Stephen King obviously, but also politic, myths and the fate of Jesus Christ. To sum up, this is a fantastic world, like the band.