Release DetailsLABEL SPV
RELEASED ON 6/28/2005
Demons & Wizards
Touched By The Crimson King
posted on 6/2005 By:
Like many metalheads, the prospect of Blind Guardian vocalist Hansi Kursch teaming up with Iced Earth guitarist and mastermind Jon Schaffer had my pink parts tingling in the time leading up to release of their self-titled debut in 2000. At the time, both bands were relatively new to me. I had purchased their newest albums at the time after hearing both bands on Century Media’s Identity 5 compilation (a compilation which, I might add, was as crucial to my metal development as anything). So, with great excitement but a very base understanding of what these bands were all about, I popped the Demons and Wizards debut into my stereo as soon as I got it – and was promptly disappointed. Mind you, this had nothing to do with it being a bad record. I just hadn’t trained myself to hear all the little nuances in these bands yet, and basically left it at “Iced Earth with Blind Guardian vocals.”
Well, some five years have passed. I’m older and wiser. I’ve heard the entire Iced Earth discography and a decent cross-section of Blind Guardian’s. Now as I go back to that album I can hear that album as more than just the sum of its parts. I can hear Schaffer’s guitar parts taking on more progressive leanings at times; I can hear Kursch simplifying his vocal approach as needed. Most of all, I can hear two of the most distinguishable sounds in metal coming together to create something new, and not just coming together with the assistance of Protools. It’s a good thing, too, because these guys have finally found the time to record the long-awaited follow up to that album, and at last it is here to satiate the masses that have been chomping at the bit since they first had their load blown. To them I say, get ready to be Touched by the Crimson King.
Of course, it is impossible not to hear elements of the two bands in here. Schaffer’s guitar tone is so distinctive that you can’t help but think of Iced Earth; ditto for Kursch’s vocals. So it’s important to listen to this record as a whole and not concentrate too much on any one element. The galloping riffs of “Crimson King”, “Terror Train”, and “Dorian” are clearly derived from Iced Earth, but the vocals create a more epic feel than you would normally hear from Mat Barlow or Tim Owens. The exceptions here are the layered choruses which, although more reminiscent of Blind Guardian, are something oft heard in both bands. Other times, like on “Beneath These Waves”, “Down Where I Am”, and “Wicked Witch”, the riffs come from someplace else entirely, while you can feel the Blind Guardian a bit more in the vocals. Therein lies the whole point in a nutshell: taking two great elements and making something new with them, without forgetting their origins. Kind of like a peanut butter cup. I can hear the battles already: “You got your Iced Earth in my Blind Guardian!” “No, you got your Blind Guardian in my Iced Earth!” Together they just work so well.
Well, I must say this has been a great album to listen to but a tough one to write about. I’m sure had I written, “takes the best parts of Iced Earth and Blind Guardian and creates an album that is every bit as impressive, and sometimes moreso than, its individual parts”, I would feel I had done the album justice. But, our fine readers deserve a bit more meat – in fact, they demand it. So to answer the burning question on all the skeptics’ minds, yes, Demons and Wizards are every bit as great as you would hope, and Touched by the Crimson King is a more than worthy addition to the legacy of the band and its members.
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