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The long-awaited return of one of the most formidable metal alliances of all-time is finally upon us.  Demons & Wizards; the celebrated collaboration between Jon Schaffer, mastermind of the unyielding metal band, Iced Earth; and Hansi Kürsch, the soaring voice of the Tolkien-inspired Power Metal legends, Blind Guardian have come off of their mountaintops to join us on this mortal coil.  Their latest burnt offering, III, manifests everything that makes both Schaffer and Kürsch powerhouses of the genre with every song an epic unto itself.  The duo also called upon Schaffer’s familiar cast of studio musicians from Iced Earth’s past and present including long-time collaborator, Jim Morris of Morrisound to lend his stellar lead guitar work to the fold.

With both Schaffer and Kürsch’s celebrated bands in full throttle, one would think another Demons & Wizards album would be doomed to be an afterthought.  From the haunting opening track, “Diabolic” all doubt is set aflame as we’re quickly transported through the cavernous unknown into a world of fire and brimstone with Kürsch’s melodic harmonies perfectly complimenting Schaffer’s razor sharp trademark guitar attack.  Each song takes on a life of its own with the duo exploring a multitude of genres throughout the album.  “Wolves in Winter” is a triumphant sprint through an avalanche of ice and the band has never sounded more ferocious.  Schaffer’s stygian approach to songwriting has clearly influenced and evoked some of Kürsch’s most aggressive and memorable vocal performances to date on “Dark Side of Her Majesty” and “New Dawn.” 

Meanwhile, “Midas Disease” and “Invincible” are a clear instrumental departure from the rest of the album that still stands well on their own.  Both songs are reminiscent of Schaffer’s own hard rock influences as heard on Iced Earth’s own cover album, Tribute to the Gods.  “Split” is perhaps the most experimental and ambitious track on III with the song taking sharp twists and turns yet never losing momentum. Clocking in at over 10 minutes, “Children of Cain” is an epic dystopian tale weaved by Kürsch with Schaffer closing the album with an instrumental crescendo to turn the final weathered page of a story long since past.

III is Demons & Wizards’ testament of brotherhood and legacy, a sharp-edged blade that has stood the test of time.  Schaffer and Kürsch’s musical worlds have always orbited very closely to one another.  Seeing both Heavy Metal behemoths step out of the light of their individual success and emerge into something even greater is refreshing. Two decades have passed since the undisputed lords of Power Metal joined forces and through the success and longevity of their own projects, they’ve both clearly matured as songwriters and the musical bond they share is eternal.  Demons & Wizards’ latest album, III is an enchanting addition to the impressive collection that all Iced Earth and Blind Guardian faithful holds so dear.  Pick up your copy today and don’t let the regret of losing out on this treasure consume your soul.


As always, rock on my friends!     Hunnypot Approved!     Overall Rating:  9.2 out of 10

Artist: Demons & Wizards,  AlbumIII  Release Date: February 21st, 2020,  LabelCentury Media Records


Raul Soria Jr.

Photojournalist - Portland

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