Written by Alex Stojanovic
Wolves In Winter
Dark Side Of Her Majesty
Children Of Cain
Release Date: February 21, 2020
Label: Century Media Records
Hansi Kursch - Vocals / Jon Schaffer - Guitars & bass / Jake Dreyer - Additional lead guitars
Ruben Drake - Bass / Brent Smedley - Drums
2020 sees the band celebrating the 20th anniversary of the release of their self-titled debut album, and 15th anniversary of the release of the sophomore album Touched By The Crimson King, which was also the last record they put out. Ever since 2005, Hansi and Jon were constantly asked by fans and media if there was going to be another Demons & Wizards album. Well, it only took fifteen years, but a brand new album from the demon and the wizard is finally here, simply (and very aptly) titled III. You want to know something even crazier? They took longer than Tool to put out another record. Both Hansi and Jon were really appreciative of the amount of love for the side project, which is an extremely rare case, but you know, when you're extremely busy writing, recording and touring with your main band, the side project becomes a second priority. When the band did their first-ever North American tour this past summer, they were playing big clubs and big theatres across the US and Canada.
When it comes to III, if you've been a fan of Demons & Wizards for a long time, you will certainly hear influences from the first two albums, but over the course of 15 years, Jon and Hansi have grown as musicians. In addition to the traditional metal and power metal influences that are the primary focus of the band's sound, you will hear elements of progressive and classic rock along the way. The classic rock elements can be heard on tracks like the very AC/DC-sounding "Midas Disease", which is Jon's tribute to Malcolm Young, and "Invincible". Both songs contain a more straightforward approach in the riffing, which will appeal to the classic rock listener. The acoustic intro to "Timeless Spirit" has pretty much the exact same flow as the Iced Earth track "Raven Wing", but then again, it's one of the most dynamic tracks on the record.
The album's opener "Diabolic" is connected "Heaven Denies" from the first album, but as a whole it's another really dynamic track encompassing heaviness, darkness and melody all in one. Over the years with Blind Guardian, Hansi has proven himself as one of the best vocal melody writers, where he always comes up with vocal melodies that are so strong, that once you hear them, you just want to join in and sing along with him. Plus, he's got a very distinct voice that is instantly recognizable by us metal fans. The closing epic "Children Of Cain" reaches just over the 10-minute mark. The only flaw on the album can be found on this song, which is that I think the acoustic outro goes on for a little too long.
Now, back in 2005 when Touched By The Crimson King came out, I was going on 13 years old, and was already a huge rocker at that point, but I was nowhere near the metalhead that I am today, because at that point, I was still in the early stages of getting into metal. By late 2006/early 2007, I was off and running in the metal world discovering so many of the bands that I'm into right now. I only discovered Demons & Wizards around the beginning of the last decade, so it was really cool to anticipate the new album, then to hear it and really enjoy it. III was a great listen, and was well worth the wait. Will it take another fifteen years for album #4? That remains to be seen, but we certainly hope not.
Highs: Epic songwriting
Lows: If you have a short attention span, you might not be all that into the long songs.
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