Reading J.R.R. Tolkien’s posthumous novel The Silmarillion is by no means an easy task. Set during the First Age, the novel reads a bit like a history text, chronicling the genesis of the land, Arda, how the Wizards came into being and the first of the first Dark Lord, Morgoth. Unlike The Lord of the Rings, which is advanced but still accessible, The Silmarillion can sometimes feel more like a chore to read. Which is a shame considering the wealth of information contained in the text. But there’s more than one way to experience The War of the Jewels and one such way is by listening to Blind Guardian’s iconic concept album, Nightfall in Middle-earth.
Who is Blind Guardian?
Blind Guardian are a German power metal band formed in the 90s. Their musical style uses a lot of double pedal drumming, guitar solos and epic riffs while keeping the vocals clean (no growling or screamo) in conjunction with Queen-esque harmonies in the choruses. It’s quite the mishmash of styles. If that doesn’t sound too wild to you, then the next step is to sit down, listen to the album while following along with the lyrics.
The Silmarillion in Heavy Metal
By doing this, you’ll end up following a narrative inspired by Tolkien’s most daunting work. Instead of music, the album actually opens in the thick of battle before transitioning to the spoken word. For instance, in the album’s opening track, we hear a conversation taking place between two unnamed individuals. These are chief figures in Tolkien’s works as we’re hearing the Dark Lord Morgoth, the King, talking with his servant for all time, which would be his lieutenant, Sauron.
Each and every song on the album retells a critical storypoint from The Silmarillion, specifically the War of the Jewels. Tracks like Mirror, Mirror recount how Turgon built the doomed city of Gondolin while Nightfall deals with the fallout Morgoth has inflicted, specifically from the point of view of Fëanor and his sons. The song When Sorrow Sang is about the fan favourite duo Beren and Lúthien, the man and elf romantic pair whose impact can be felt across almost all aspects of Tolkien’s legendarium. Aragorn even recounts their tale to Frodo and the hobbits in song during a scene from the extended cut of Fellowship of the Ring.
Prepare for Amazon’s New Show
So why should you care about all of this First Age story right now? Well, if you plan on watching Amazon Studio’s upcoming (and still untitled) Lord of the Rings television series, the most expensive show of all time, then you should take some notes. While the show will chronicle the events depicted in the Second Age, it appears that the show won’t be limited by that timeline. The studio released a first look image when shooting of the series wrapped and fans have been quick to dissect the image for any useful information.
I initially theorized that the first-look image was either Numenor or Valar and it looks like it’ll be the latter if the two trees in the distance on the right hand side of the above image are The Two Trees of Valar. The gold and silver trees are what brought light to the Valinor and were destroyed by Morgoth and Ungoliant. This is a critical moment in The Silmarillion and is retold in the song Into the Storm, which takes place after the duo destroyed the trees. The last seed and flower of the remains would go on to become the sun and moon, respectively. So it’s a pretty important moment and one that will likely set the stage for the rest of the series, despite being set thousands of years prior to the primary timeline of the series.