DEMONS & WIZARDS-III
Century Media Records
When Century Media re-released the albums ‘Demons & Wizards’ and ‘Touched By The Crimson King’ last year and the band around Blind Guardian singer Hansi Kursch and Iced Earth boss Jon Schaffer returned to the stage after many years, a new album already seemed to be the thing to expect. It has been awhile that is for sure. Not really know the reasons why Jon and Hansi left it so long to create a new album again but here it is: ‘III’. Listening to the songs on this album several times is an absolute must in order to understand what the duo with their cast of guest musicians is trying to achieve. Some darkish elements that characterised the debut and the more adventurous approach that was key on the second are certainly elements that have found a spot again on ‘III’. But this one is for sure just as metal based, maybe even more than the two predecessors. Sure there are lots of different mood swings present but the core of the album is as basic as it comes with Hansi and Jon. They are metal heads and that shines through. Lyric wise the album has themes that are based on history (a big hobby of Schaffer) but some themes are also mythological or philosophical, making the lyric contents of ‘III’ a lot more interesting than the bulk of the albums these days. And although the albums has in an epic closer like ,,Children Of Cain’’ in my humble opinion its best track (beautiful contrast between ‘quiet’ and up-tempo pieces) it cannot be denied that more robust songs like ,,Dead Winter Comes’’ with its heavy staccato rhythm have their attraction as well. That heavy staccato rhythm is something that you will find again and again on the album yet the songs themselves are shaped in such a way that it does not become monotonous. Aggression and melody, dark and (some) light, the versatility and contrast in the music and the lyrics is definitely one of the strong points of ‘III”, you never know what to expect, whether it is a big chorus, massive choirs or impressive instrumental parts. Jon and Hansi recorded in three different studios, the bulk being done in Schaffer’s home studio and the once so famous Morrisound studio owned by Jim Morris. By the way, for the third time Jim Morris himself contributes some stunning guitar work, making him something like a ‘third’ member that is always there in the studio. Although several engineers (including Charlie Bauerfeind of Axel Rudi Pell fame and Joost van den Broek of Ayreon fame) worked on the album ‘III’ comes across as a solid unit with Jon having control in the end. It took me a little while but the more I hear this record the more involved I seem to get. Hopefully you will have the same experience….
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