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Demons and Wizards – Touched by the Crimson King

Label: SPV USA
Format: CD
Released: 2005
Reviewed By: Rich Catino

Here you have one of the most recognized riff masters to emerge from today’s (the 1990’s to the present) Heavy Metal masters, John Schaffer from Iced Earth, and Hansi Kursch, singer and melody king from Germany’s Power Metal Gods Blind Guardian. The two friends have teamed up again for their highly anticipated second release by their fantasy based side project called Demons and Wizards.


Now this is neither Iced Earth or Blind Guardian. Musically, its essence is more closely related to an Iced Earth arrangement than Blind Guardian, especially with the guitar’s sound. Blind Guardian have distinctive guitar harmonies and this sounds nothing like those. ‘Crimson King’, ‘Terror Train’ and ‘The Gunslinger’ all have the speed and force of Iced Earth. John has such a distinctive sound and riffing style you can’t miss it. I honestly hear no Blind Guardian and if you really listen should not hear it either.

What makes Demons and Wizards its own entity is the vocal harmonies that can be clearly heard on the acoustic track ‘Seize the Day’ and ‘Wicked Witch’. With Hansi’s voice and how he crafts each chorus is something that is matched by no one in the Heavy Metal of today. Ask anyone and they will tell you a Blind Guardian chorus is something unto itself and what he does for Demons is equally as classy. ‘Love’s Tragedy Asunder’ with its chorus does almost have a ring to it that it could have been part of the last Iced Earth release “The Glorious Burden”.

Compared to the first Demons and Wizards, Crimson follows along those same lines. You get several harder headbangers amongst acoustic, even folkish arrangements. The Folk sound will ring familiar to Blind Guardian. Each track is not full steam ahead and does include breaks and sections of acoustic guitars and melody. Do not go into this expecting a one dimensional listen as each song alternates between the acoustic and heavy.

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