Forming in the small German town of Krefeld, Blind Guardian perfected a fusion of gothic- and fantasy-tinged European power metal with the velocity and technical precision of speed metal. Members Hansi Kürsch (vocals, bass), Marcus Siepen (guitar), André Olbrich (guitar), and Thomen Stauch (drums) initially called themselves Lucifer's Heritage, but elected to change it when a 1986 demo tape began to achieve underground popularity. They signed with the No Remorse label and issued Battalions of Fear in 1988, following it with Follow the Blind a year later, which helped make a name for the band in Japan. Released in 1990, Tales from the Twilight World became an underground hit in Germany and led to a deal with that country's division of Virgin Records; their major-label debut, Somewhere Far Beyond, was released in 1992. After 1993's live Tokyo Tales, Blind Guardian hooked up with former Metallica producer Flemming Rasmussen for 1995's Imaginations from the Other Side. Issued in 1996, The Forgotten Tales was a collection of covers and alternate versions, setting the stage for 1998's Nightfall in Middle-Earth, a Tolkien-inspired concept album that finally became the band's first American release a year later. Century Media began reissuing portions of the band's back catalog in the U.S. the same year. In 2002, the band released A Night at the Opera, and followed up four years later with A Twist in the Myth. The German power metal quartet released its ninth studio album, At the Edge of Time, in 2010 followed by a compilation of re-recorded and remixed songs called Memories of a Time to Come in 2012.
In 1992, the band changed its name from the original Resurrection to Orphaned Land. Orphaned Land fuse progressive, doom, and death metal as well as Middle-Eastern folk music and Arabic traditions in a form of Oriental metal. Each album has some concept related to two extremes: a meeting of East and West, past and present, light and darkness, and God and Satan. The band’s first album was Sahara (1994) which was originally released as a demo. The second album, El Norra Alila (1996), had many Eastern/Oriental influences, such as "El Norra Alila" ("Illustrious God"), based on a poem sung during Yom Kippur as a plea of forgiveness. It also included songs with traditional oriental Jewish piyyut and Arabic melodies. The album explored the themes of light and darkness, as well as conveying the message of commonality between the three main Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Islam, and Christianity). The third album, Mabool: The Story of the Three Sons of Seven (the Hebrew name for the Deluge, depicted in the Bible and Noah's story), released in 2004, was seven years in the making. It tells the story of three sons (one for each Abrahamic religion) who try to warn humanity of a flood coming as punishment for their sins. Musically, the album contains oriental instruments, two choruses, traditional Yemenite chants sung by Shlomit Levi, and quotes of biblical verses from the story of the deluge, read by vocalist Kobi Farhi. After Mabool, Orphaned Land released an EP, Ararat (2005) named after Mount Ararat. Despite their songs drawing on biblical themes, the band have said that they are not religious, with the majority of the band members identifying as atheist or agnostic. On January, 2010, Orphaned Land released the follow-up to Mabool, entitled The Never Ending Way of ORWarriOR. ORWarriOR means "Warrior of Light", and the concept is the battle between light and darkness. The album has a different sound than Mabool, and was mixed by Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree. The first single from the CD was titled "Sapari" and was put on Myspace with two other tracks, "Vayehi OR" and "Disciples of the Sacred Oath II". In early 2011, ORWarriOR was rated the Metal Storm number one progressive metal album of 2010 by users with 421/1130 total votes. In 2008, Orphaned Land was featured in the documentary Global Metal, a film by the creators of Metal: A Headbanger's Journey. On May 22, 2010, Orphaned Land performed as the opening act to Metallica's show in Israel. Following this, the band went on a festival tour in the summer of 2010, promoting their latest album, The Never Ending Way of ORWarriOR, with appearances at such festivals as Wacken Open Air, Summer Breeze Open Air, Sonisphere Festival, Gods of Metal, Rock Hard Festival and more. After the summer festival tour, the band will go on a North American tour in support of Katatonia, along with Swallow the Sun. This will be followed by a tour of Europe supporting Amorphis along with Ghost Brigade. They performed on June 19, 2011, at the French Metal Festival Hellfest held in Clisson, near Nantes. In February 2011, they performed at the Riviera cultural festival at VIT University, Vellore, India. And in February 2012, they performed at the festival Alcheringa at Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati (IIT), India. On June 11, 2012, guitarist Matty Svatitzky announced his departure from the band, due to personal issues. Matti Svatitzky was replaced by Chen Balbus, a young musician who was a replacement guitar player for some live shows, before he became an official member. Chen instantly became an integral part of the composing, writing, producing and recording of the new album, "All Is One." In 2012 there was an online petition for Orphaned Land to be awarded a Nobel Prize for their commitment to allowing the Arab World to listen to their music despite bans on such a thing from Arab League countries. Orphaned Land's fifth album, entitled All is One, was released on June 21, 2013 and worldwide on the 25th. Previous vocalist, Shlomit Levy did not perform on this album, so female vocals were performed instead by Mira Awad. Despite its optimistic title, the band considers it their darkest album thematically, albeit musically their most accessible, being nearly devoid of death metal influence. On January 7, 2014, Orphaned Land announced on their Facebook page that it had parted ways with guitarist and co-founding member Yossi Sassi. Orphaned Land recently won Metal Hammer award for "Global Metal Band of the Year 2014". The band also released a new music video for the track "Let the Truce Be Known" which is directed by Vadim Machona.