After 15 long years and numerous updates assuring that it was coming, the time has now come for legendary supergroup Demons & Wizards to release unto the world their third album, suitably titled III. The group made up primarily of Jon Schaffer of Iced Earth and Hansi Kürsch from Blind Guardian have spent the past few years refining and honing the album to become the perfect mix of both bands for fans of both acts.
What is immediately apparent on this release is how much of an impact the mix makes to the album. It strikes just the right balance and no one instrument is inaudible. Hansi’s vocals sit above everything perfectly and the rest of instruments sit perfectly across the spectrum. Top marks to the engineer for that as this style of metal can often be a tricky one to mix.
As one might expect from a release by two legends in the power metal scene, there are multiple parts in a lot of the songs which can make you stop and think “whoa…”. One of those in particular comes in the form of the chorus of the opening track “Diabolic” with the soaring vocals of Hansi sitting perfectly atop the expert crafted riffs from Jon. “Timeless Spirit”, the second longest track on the album, as well features an impressive layered vocal track to create a pseudo-choir which sits like the cherry atop the metal cake. And on the topic of that song, despite it being over 9 minutes long, it doesn’t feel that long and takes you on a journey through multiple acts and scenes.
And that is what the overriding feel is with this album. As opposed to just being a collection of songs arranged into an album, the album is, as a whole, a complete unit and can almost be considered a “metal-opera” if those even exist. And, like a good ‘metal-opera’ there’s just enough variety to keep things nice and fresh throughout and on repeated listens. Take “Universal Truth” for example. It’s unapologetically power-metal and features the traditional rousing chorus but also a smattering of riffs you can’t help but nod/headbang along to.
Rounding out the album, the 10 minute epic “Children of Cain” takes a leaf out of the book written by earlier track “Timeless Spirit” and once again goes on an epic quest. The transition from acoustic guitars to overdriven guitars is done perfectly and goes in tandem with a vocal roar that almost rivals one done by the late Dio. After regaling its epic quest, the song then ends as it began with acoustic guitars and provides a perfect ending to album as a whole.
Despite there being such a long gap between this album and the previous release in 2005, the music that is on display here more than makes up for that length of time. As mentioned earlier, the album, as a whole, flows exceptionally well and is dotted with plenty of moments where it’s exceptionally difficult to not be impressed. For fans of the duo’s respective bands and also the project, this album will serve as a perfect “welcome home” to the world which the duo created 20 years ago, followed up 15 years ago, and have continued the tale with now.
III is out now – order it on Amazon to support this site!
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