Demons & Wizards

Demons & Wizards

SPV Records, 2000

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Progressive metal is a genre that seems to have been overlooked of late. Maybe it's because there have been so many groups trying to get noticed in this genre that everything tends to blur together. Put it this way: the only progressive "hard rock" band I can immediately think of is Dream Theater. 'Nuff said.

Somehow, I don't think that Demons & Wizards, a side project featuring two of the more recognizable names in the genre, will have that same problem. This self-titled effort is an amazing disc that is both commercial and dark, and should breathe some new life into the category.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The brainchild of guitarist Jon Schaffer (Iced Earth) and vocalist/bassist Hansi Kürsch (Blind Guardian), this pairing is everything that proponents of the genre have been promising that it would be. It's a combination of powerful songwriting (without sacrificing the darker, death-themed tones of the lyrics), intense playing and singing that reminds me of Klaus Meine of the Scorpions. Put that all together, and you have one hell of a band - and you have me hoping the collaboration won't stop with this one album.

Once you hit the opening lines of "Heaven Denies," featuring the incredible drum work of Mark Prator, Demons & Wizards crackles to life like a high tension wire that has power restored to it. Kürsch's vocals are absolutely all-powerful, making me wonder why Blind Guardian hasn't become a major force in the metal genre to be reckoned with. The same can be said for Schaffer's guitar work; his chops are incredibly meaty, and he helps bring this material to life. (Credit should also be given to the album's producer Jim Morris, who also contributes some lead guitar work.)

How engrossing is Demons & Wizards? Put it this way: it wasn't until I was on my third listen that I realized how dark some of the lyrics were. Kürsch's vocals are so good that you might find yourself caught up in their beauty and majesty and not in the message of the songs. I'll say this much: usually lyrics of this nature are covered up with distortion-laden, double-bass pumping instrumental work that seems to fit the mood. If anything, maybe we could say this music represents the angels with bent halos.

I've been listening to metal for the better part of the last two decades, and Demons & Wizards is one of the best new discs I've heard come down the pipeline. Don't allow this disc to fall to the wayside because metal isn't in vogue right now. Pick it up, listen to it... fall in love with this disc. It's incredibly easy to do.

Rating: A-

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© 2000 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of SPV Records, and is used for informational purposes only.