Demons & Wizards - III review



Reviewer:
8.2

148 users:
7.86
Band: Demons & Wizards
Album: III
Release date: February 2020


01. Diabolic
02. Invincible
03. Wolves In Winter
04. Final Warning
05. Timeless Spirit
06. Dark Side Of Her Majesty
07. Midas Disease
08. New Dawn
09. Universal Truth
10. Split
11. Children Of Cain


After an interminable 15-year absence from the studio, heralded by a debut North American tour that I covered in a novel-length summary, the Demon and the Wizard have martialed their skills for a third journey into the underexplored nefarious side of power metal.

The first thing to note about Demons & Wizards is that they don't sound like a perfect combination of Blind Guardian and Iced Earth, which may be the first hurdle for new listeners to overcome; blast "Diabolic" expecting "Burnt Offerings" or "The Script For My Requiem" and you'll come away wondering what's gotten Hansi Kürsch so down and Jon Schaffer feeling so mystical. D&W is one of the doomiest, gloomiest bands ever to get slapped with the power metal label; this is certainly something they share with Iced Earth's dramatic and thrash-adjacent take on the US power sound, especially given how often the band builds on the ferocious riffing style that dominates much of Schaffer's writing, but add layers upon layers of Hansi-choirs and chilling melodies that shiver with desperation and horror, and a darker edge not unlike Nevermore seeps into the formula.

III wallows in a misty dreariness that I would ascribe to the mortal dread of age had I not known Demons & Wizards and Touched By The Crimson King to be so grim in turns; some ominous cloud overshadows mournful melodies and morose riffs, combined in the preestablished mix of somber ballads, punishing power-thrash anthems, and mid-paced vehicles for vocal showmanship. Schaffer's distinctive chug greases the wheels of "Wolves Of Winter," "Dark Side Of Her Majesty," and "Split" as it has so many other great songs, and his dark tone is responsible for much of the threatening nature of the album. That much hasn't changed from the previous two releases. III has something more, however - it is the band's densest and most elaborately produced album to date, featuring dynamic percussion from Iced Earth veteran Brent Smedley, greater implementation of synths and choirs for atmospheric effect, the three longest D&W songs by several minutes, and some of Hansi's most sophisticated harmonies yet.

As with Blind Guardian, the many-Hansied approach has been a critical and unique characteristic of Demons & Wizards, and his vocal work for this band has always been some of his best - just listen to "Heaven Denies," "Fiddler On The Green," or "Chant" (which is entirely his own voice). As if defying me to mention the 21-year gap between those songs and these, Hansi has pushed himself to new heights for III, crafting yet more subtly textured vocal lines and impactful hooks. He dips into some rare lows in "Timeless Spirit," only to eradicate them with harrowing wails moments later in a pained response to Ian Gillan's manic shrieks in "Child In Time"; though it's otherwise a bit bloated at nine minutes in length and not one of the more interesting songs on the album, Hansi uses this track as an opportunity to show us something we haven't really heard from him before. His screeches in "Midas Disease" and delicate choruses in "Children Of Cain" are among the hottest displays of vocal technique you'll find in this season's metal harvest, and if you listen closely, you'll always hear his soaring highs topping the heap in the background. For a renowned frontman whose irruption as a singing powerhouse I'd place around 1992's Somewhere Far Beyond, surprising your audience again and again is no mean feat. If you're reading this right now, know that I will not let the metal community get away without bestowing upon Hansi Kürsch the same respect afforded Rob Halford, Ronnie James Dio, and Bruce Dickinson. If I learned anything at the show last year, it's that Hansi can still slay his own vocal lines from two decades ago as if he were counting sheep, and if I've learned anything from III, it's that he has no intention of stopping a mere 32 years after picking up the mic.

III also demonstrates some growth and experimentation from a songwriting perspective, which, ironically, means more tracks written in a somewhat conventional heavy metal vein. Of course, nothing Demons & Wizards writes can survive liftoff without being transformed into something epic-feeling, especially on this most grandiose of the three albums. "Midas Disease" is the closest the band has come to a straightforward hard rock song - but they can't get that far without making the whole thing sound pure evil. Aside from featuring one of Hansi's sleaziest vocal deliveries, it's just as downtrodden as the rest of the album, and that's another common theme of III, or really D&W in general: their albums are well-constructed. Each album has a few standouts that I'll regularly play on their own - in this case, "Diabolic," "Wolves Of Winter," "Invincible," and "Midas Disease" - but it's just as easy to play the entire things through because of how atmospherically consistent they are, even when switching from a gothic-tinged epic thrash number like "Dark Side Of Her Majesty" to this wrong-side-of-AC/DC stomp, even when accommodating eight-, nine-, and ten-minute songs for over an hour of dark metal.

When all is said and done, I think most fans will continue to regard the self-titled debut as Demons & Wizards's true masterpiece. At the moment I'm comfortable placing III in the middle, equidistant from its successors, but that's a hair I don't think is terribly worth splitting. If Demons & Wizards retires with only a trilogy of albums, it will have been a very consistent and worthwhile trilogy.


Rating breakdown
Performance: 10
Songwriting: 9
Originality: 8
Production: 8


 



Written on 30.03.2020 by I'm the reviewer, and that means my opinion is correct.


Comments

Comments: 6   Visited by: 132 users
30.03.2020 - 10:03
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Lmao power metal
----
- I've dreamt of that for years.
- Dying?
- Running.




2020 goodies
Loading...
30.03.2020 - 10:38
nikarg
Mod
I agree with 99% of the review, the 1% not being sure about placing Hansi in the same sentence with Rob, Dio and Bruce, but I am not entirely opposed to it. This is one of Hansi's best performances ever, I found myself completely awed by what he is achieving on this album. "Diabolic", "Wolves Of Winter", "Dark Side Of Her Majesty", and "Split" are the tracks I like the most but I also enjoy the album as a whole. What I find appealing with Demons & Wizards is that they make power metal that is dark, and they have a riff magician and the best vocalist in metal right now, so you really can't go wrong. I am surely glad this album came out.
Loading...
30.03.2020 - 11:27
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Written by nikarg on 30.03.2020 at 10:38

What I find appealing with Demons & Wizards is that they make power metal that is dark.

There definitely needs to be more power metal like that
----
- I've dreamt of that for years.
- Dying?
- Running.




2020 goodies
Loading...
30.03.2020 - 18:08
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Written by nikarg on 30.03.2020 at 10:38

I agree with 99% of the review, the 1% not being sure about placing Hansi in the same sentence with Rob, Dio and Bruce, but I am not entirely opposed to it. This is one of Hansi's best performances ever, I found myself completely awed by what he is achieving on this album. "Diabolic", "Wolves Of Winter", "Dark Side Of Her Majesty", and "Split" are the tracks I like the most but I also enjoy the album as a whole. What I find appealing with Demons & Wizards is that they make power metal that is dark, and they have a riff magician and the best vocalist in metal right now, so you really can't go wrong. I am surely glad this album came out.


It is but i still think the first 2, 2 and 1 are the best BG albums ever, best Tolkienish albums ever, speed, and then power metal. Love old BG, IE and DNW.
----
Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
Loading...
31.03.2020 - 20:06
WorpeX
Great write-up. Love the album personally!
Loading...
03.04.2020 - 21:55
Chiche18
Love this album, true masterpiece from DMW!!!
Loading...

Hits total: 1616 | This month: 144