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Demons & Wizards - III Award winner

Demons & Wizards
III
by Martin Knap at 25 February 2020, 9:03 PM

To me BLIND GUARDIAN and ICED EARTH are without a doubt among the greatest Power Metal bands of all time. Not only are they both very successful bands, but their music is truly inspired and has profoundly impacted countless youngsters’ hearts and minds, including mine. Both of them create music that is not just catchy and enjoyable, but that captivates your soul and take you to another world. Both bands have recorded absolute classics, that I will always keep coming back to. DEMONS & WIZARDS is a collaborative project between Jon Schaffer and Hansi Kürsch, two key members of the aforementioned bands, which started all the way back in 1997. Both their releases, the self-titled debut which came out in 1999 and “Touched By The Crimson King” form 2005, are highly regarded. The project was put on hold for a long while, last year Schaffer and Kürsch have returned to live performances and now they’re releasing their third album titled “III”.

I always liked DEMONS & WIZARDS, I think the two musicians have a special connection and the music that they make is by no means some kind of self-serving cash grab. There is a sort of synergy between ICED EARTH’s drive and spirit, and BLIND GUARDIAN’s soulfulness and melodic flair in the band sound. I like them quite a bit, I even started reading Stephen King’s “Dark Tower” because of “Touched By The Crimson King” (just btw., I’ve made it to book five so far). But I can’t say that I like the two DEMONS & WIZARD'S releases more then some of the classic BLIND GUARDIAN or ICED EARTH albums. To me they are excellent, but not up there with the best of each of the two bands. Hence, my expectations for this album weren’t sky high, I’m always interested in whatever music both Schaffer and Kürsch produce, but I wasn’t expecting anything mind blowing. But I’m glad to say that this album has surpassed all my expectations.

The album is of ambitious scope, it is over an hour long and has eleven songs on it. There are three long songs on the album – the opener, the closing song and a ballad right in the middle of the album – and shorter to medium-length songs sandwiched between them. The album starts with the very strong “Diabolic,” which was, if I’m not mistaken, the first single from the album. The song has a very somber, haunting atmosphere, the chorus is epic and uplifting. The following song “Invincible” has a much more upbeat vibe and a big, sing-along kind of chorus. The A-side is very strong, the two aforementioned songs or “Wolves of Winter,” another single from “III,” are all amazing, and I totally love the ballad “Timeless Spirit”. It’s an epic song with haunting verse melody and a emotional chorus, and overall the song is very impactful and climactic. The album is not front-loaded at all, all the songs are memorable and add something to the album. “Midas Disease” has a strong Hard Rock or Glam Metal vibe – it sounds a strongly inspired by W.A.S.P. – and provides stylistic variety to the album. “Split”'s sound is a thrashy Power Metal rager, which sounds a lot like a classic ICED EARTH song – what’s not to love?

As I’ve noted above, I didn’t expect this album to be this great.  I don’t hesitate to say that it’s my favorite by DEMONS & WIZARDS so far, and it compares well to both BLIND GUARDIAN and ICED EARTH’s recent discography. The synergy between the two masterminds behind the project has come here to the fullest fruition. Hansi Kürsch’s performance are outstanding and of course the instrumental performances are absolutely on point as well. If you’re a fan – get it. If you’re new to the band do yourself a favor and give this album a listen.

Songwriting: 10
Memorability: 9
Musicianship: 10
Production: 9

5 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Diabolic
2. Invincible
3. Wolves in Winter
4. Final Warning
5. Timeless Spirit
6. Dark Side of Her Majesty
7. Midas Disease
8. New Dawn
9. Universal Truth
10. Split
11. Children of Cain
Lineup:
Jon Schaffer - Guitars, Bass, Mandolin, Keyboards, Vocals (backing)
Hansi Kürsch - Vocals

Guest/Session
Brent Smedley - Drums
Jim Morris - Guitars (additional)
Jake Dreyer - Guitars (additional)
Ruben Drake - Bass
Record Label: Century Media Records
     


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