Demons & Wizards - Touched By The Crimson King
Atmospheric Heavy Metal
10 songs ()
Release year: 2005
Demons & Wizards, SPV
Reviewed by Jason
Album of the month

The first time I came across Demons and Wizards was through a file sharing program back in 99’ while trying to discover some older Blind Guardian material. Demons and Wizards’s Gallows Pole popped up in the lengthy list BG songs and the though I chuckled at the fact that a band gave itself a name perhaps as cheesy as a Rhapsody music video, it nonetheless sparked my interest. This interest that was sparked by mere happenstance almost instantly became infatuation the second the Demons and Wizards flowed through my computer speakers. The sheer perfect blend of Hansi Kurch’s voice and Jon Schaffer’s guitar had really got to me and almost instantly became one of my all-time favorite albums. Touched by the Crimson King is the second edition to a project created by an impeccable duo, and let me tell ya, 6 years of anticipation and excitement was worth the while.

The reaction this disc gave me after the first listen was similar to the one I had after listening to the Children on Bodom’s Hate Crew Deathroll for the first time – I didn’t know what to expect, therefore I didn’t know whether it was good or not, or if the band had changed for the better or worse. Both Blind Guardian and Iced Earth had shifted their music direction lately, therefore keeping that in mind, I didn’t know what to make of this new project. A few more spins later, and I came to the conclusion that though the style deviates somewhat from their previous sound, TbtCK does in fact truly kill.

One definite thing about Demons & Wizards is that it wouldn’t be even closely as good it is without Hansi; and to bring this opinion even further, I don’t this that there is a singer in the world that would be able to top Hansi’s performance on TbtCK. This may be an overtly bold statement, but I think it would be extremely difficult to beat the eclectic vocal patterns, pitches, and melodies which flow seamlessly in unison with the music and more specifically Jon’s furious guitar work. This statement can be put to the test right from the start with the first track titled The Crimson King. Although the album is more atmospheric and melodious in comparison with its predecessor, the newest installment begins fast and furious with fiery riffs composed of triplets and Hansi’s powerful voice ripping throughout the song. One will likely notice that many of the tunes are related to themes from Steven King’s novel The Dark Tower, but just as the members have outlined, this is not a concept album since there are songs on the album that have nothing to do with the novel.

The album begins fairly fiery but slowly tones down after the 5th track titled The Gunslinger – A stellar track filled with killer palmed riffs and a sound that I’d say bears strong resemblance to Blind Guardian’s last album, A Night at the Opera. Though the last couple tracks have their occasional heavy moments, they are the ones which earn this album its “atmospheric heavy metal” title. Tracks like Loves Tragedy Asunder, Wicked Witch, and Down Where I Am are stylistically very similar to tracks from the previous album such as Fiddler on the Green and the more melodious moments of Tear Down the Wall. The synthesis of light piano and acoustic backgrounds blend magnificently with Hansi’s voice to deliver a deep and emotional sound that accompanies the heavy sections of the album well and, like I mentioned earlier, adds a very atmospheric feeling.

While I was excited already to hear this album in its entirety, I was even more excited to hear the final track on the disc which is a cover of Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song. The band had done a superb job covering Cream’s White Room on their previous effort, so I could only imagine what they were going to do with an ultra-classic like Immigrant Song. The cover itself is fantastic, but I have to admit that I was a little disappointed upon first listen. The song, I believe, is famous for that ear piercing and cracked-out yell which could be heard at the beginning, and though Hansi does it “well”, he doesn’t reach that famous pitch that makes the song just that much more kick ass - though I am certain he would be able manage if he tried.

In the end, Touched by the Crimson King is a fantastic album that lives up to its self-titled predecessor. Hansi’s Voice is beyond spectacular and Jon’s guitar work is also top-notch. There is seldom a weak point on the album and the atmospheric parts are just as entertaining as the furious ones. Perhaps the only negative comments I have about the album (if you can really call them that) is the point I mentioned earlier about Immigrant Song, and that there aren’t songs that beat both Blood on my Hands and Fiddler on the Green from the older album. Those two tracks became my instant favorites and are riled with hooks and catchy riffs, yet there isn’t a song on the newest effort that quite matches them in my opinion. Whether I believe one album is better than the other, I am yet undecided and that is up for discussion. One thing is for sure though... this a great album worthy of being in most metal collections.

Killing Songs :
Killin' from start to finish
Jason quoted 92 / 100
Jeff quoted 90 / 100
Alex quoted 87 / 100
Jay quoted 90 / 100
Brent quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Demons & Wizards that we have reviewed:
Demons & Wizards - Demons and Wizards, Lizzy Borden, TYR reviewed by Joel and quoted
Demons & Wizards - Demons & Wizards reviewed by Chris and quoted 91 / 100
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