Demons & Wizards (SPV) 1999
1."Rites of Passage"-instrumental (0:53)
Imagine my surprise when I got home and found this in my mailbox. I never ordered it, nor did I trade it for anything. It was sent as a promotional copy, but there are no cuts or marks. I was planning on ordering the digi-pack version as it contains an extra bonus track, a cover of Cream's "White Room," but why bother, free is better. In anycase, this sounds like Iced Earth with Blind Guardian's vocalist. That may sound a bit trite, but it is really what it sounds like. "Heaven Denies," "My Last Sunrise" and the speed metal extravaganza of "Blood on My Hand" sound EXACTLY like Iced Earth. "Fiddler on the Green" is an acoustic number that sounds more like B.G. Regardless, this is a great album for fans of either band, and I happen to be a fan of both.
Demons & Wizards - Touched by the Crimson King (SPV) 2005
1. "Crimson King"
Well, as trite as it might sound, I sort of knew exactly what I was going to get with theis CD. Demons & Wizards sophmore CD indeed does sound like equal parts Iced Earth and Blind Guardian. "Touched By the Crimson King" may have been five years in the making, but it picks up right where the self-titled debut left off. Iced Earth guitarist Jon Schaffer and Blind Guardian vocalist Hansi Kürsch are both very unique in what they do and sound like, so there is no mistaking their sound. Schaffer's unique, metallic guitar licks, precision tripplets and tasty riffs are all over this CD. The heavier moments are actually the best moments. Songs like "Crimson King", "Dorian" and "Terror Train" are easily as good as anything put forth by these men in the past. Unfortunately the band spends a lot of time experimenting with more melancholy fare. That's not to say that the ballads are not good. It's just there is more of that here than I would care to hear. I also felt that "Wicked Witch" didn't quite match up to penned songs like "When the Eagle Cries" or even "Fiddler on the Green" from the first Demons & Wizards CD. The label also included a bonus "slow" version of this song, which indeed is already pretty darned slow. I was almost dreading hearing the "Immigrant Song". I just couldn't imagine this band pulling off a version of this song. To my surprise, they changed it up enough to make it work well for them. Lyrically, this is mostly a tribute to the Stephen King novels from the Dark Tower series. So all in all, "Touched by the Crimson King" is a solid CD. Fans of the first Demons & Wizards will not be disappointed at all.