Genre: Power Metal
Country: U.S.A./Germany
Label:Century Media Records
Year: 2020

I was never a fan of Iced Earth, but that never kept me away form some brilliant moments that Schaffer offered in his career. Still I can’t understand why so many in Greece worshipped this mediocre group. On the other hand, I was a fanatic of Blind Guardian and damn I miss those days that ended in 2002 -almost 20 years ago- when the powerful melodies and the excellent folk meets power meets thrash material was top notch and marked a whole decade.

The collaboration between Hansi Kursch (Blind Guardian) and Jon Schaffer (Iced Earth) began in the late ‘90s. As Demons & Wizards, when they released their self-titled debut in 1999 and totally made a whole generation of fans around the world mad about them. Touched By The Crimson King in 2005 that followed was once again a great album, but the majority of fans didn’t seem to care a lot.

Now 15 years after Kursch and Schaffer release their third studio full length under the moniker of Demons & Wizards. 65 minutes later I want to push play again. And after another 65 minutes the same feeling. So just pushing play again and again would either tell that this album is excellent or that I’m too nostalgic. Fair enough the truth is somewhere in between.

I have to admit that Scaffer’s riffage is more than just ok, it may be predictable, but it is definitely top notch. The production (done by the duo while Morris also helped along with Charlie Bauerfeind, Tommy Geiger, and Joost van den Broek) is crystal clear and with volume, helping the instruments to shine while Hansi reminds some of his best performances in the 90’s.

But Kursch and Schaffer are not alone, as this time around guitarists Jake Dreyer (Witherfall, Iced Earth) and Jim Morris, bassist Ruben Drake (Purgatory, Sons Of Liberty) and drummer Brent Smedley (Iced Earth) helped the duo to create their album. Please not the great help of the PA’dam chamber choir (that has worked in the past with Devin Townsend, Epica, Powerwolf and Within Temptation) that is appearing on two tracks.

I know that the composition formula is based on safe patterns, but we have to be more clement on these guys. We have to think that everyone that has the slightest interest to hear a new album from Demons & Wizards in 2020 she or he would prefer a journey in his memories or to hear something that she or he expected, rather than a too progressive or too experimental bunch of songs. Speaking of songs, we have to say that we are dealing with some great stuff here. Definitely some would compare them with some -now considered to be classics- from the band, such as “Fiddler On The Green” and “Heaven Denies”. Well please do…while enjoying “Dark Side of Her Majesty,” “Diabolic,” “Wolves in Winter,” “Invincible,” and the 10 minutes closer “Children of Cain”. Even Schaffer’s tribute to AC/DC’s Malcolm Young “Midas Disease” is a cool one, still a bit strange to the rest of the songs.

4/6