Sound — 9
Demons & Wizards is a collaboration by Iced Earth's rhythm guitarist Jon Schaffer, and Bling Guardian's vocalist Hansi Kursch. This CD marks their second full length release, and it keeps the frantic power metal energy of the group alive. Schaffer uses his customary gallop to full effect here, complementing Hansi's intense vocal range with a variety hammering riffs. Combining the heavy sound of Iced Earth with the throat-ravaging vocals of Blind Guardian. The guitars are fairly straight forward: heavy and fast, with some harmonizing and effects on the slower numbers. There is a ton of vocal layering in virtually every song, giving the album an epic, operatic feel.
Lyrics — 10
Once again, Jon Schaffer delivers a stellar job with the lyrics, keeping them true to his legacy as a songwriter. Many songs borrow heavily from Stephen King's "Dark Tower" series (a great read; if you haven't, check them out). "Crimson King", "The Gunslinger", "Seize The Day", "Down Where I am" and "Terror Train" are all based directly off the books and contain quotes straight from the text. "Crimson King", named for the main bad guy in the series, is arguably the heaviest song on the album. It is based on the Crimson King, but also describes Randal Flagg, a villain in many Stephen King books. "The Gunslinger" is a character analysis of the main character Roland. "Seize The Day" simply describes some key points in the story, while "Down Where I am" is a look into the mind of the Crimson King's child, Mordred, while he is still in the womb. Finally, "Terror Train" refers to a psychotic monorail train named "Blaine" that Roland must outwit in order to save his life. Other songs are based on Moby Dick (Beneath These Waves), The Wizard of Oz (Wicked Witch), and The Picture of Dorian Gray (Dorian). There is also a great cover of Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song", Schaffer's form of a nod to those who came before and pioneered the genre. Hansi pushes his voice to new levels of "heavy", as he dictates the emotions and feeling felt by the characters in each song. As I said, there is a lot of vocal layering, which makes for an all around more "epic" feeling.
Overall Impression — 9
Demons & Wizards hits the perfect balance between heavy and melodic, delivering a power metal performance as only Jon Schaffer and Hansi Kursch can. Most noteworthy songs on the album are "Crimson King", "The Gunslinger", "Love's Tragedy Asunder", and "Dorian". If you're into metal, this album is a definite must-have.