Taking the creative minds of Jon Schaffer and Hansi Kursch is certainly going to give you a unique Metal experience and with “Touched By The Crimson King” these two Legends certainly deliver. Given their already well-known work in Blind Guardian and Iced Earth it is pretty much expected for the combined efforts of Demons & Wizards to be nothing short of exemplary. The group also does not suffer any lag time with this second release from the project as each tune is fresh and very well put together. Originally I felt this record had more of a Blind Guardian feel to it, but lost that quickly after a few more listens. It is very important to note that this mindset of expecting either Blind Guardian or Iced Earth should be lost in order to fully appreciate this music. Use it as a frame of reference but enjoy the exponential growth this is able to offer you. Starting off the release is the title track “Touched By The Crimson King” and this is one rousing number. It also showcases the ever exciting drumming of Bobby Jarzombek (Iced Earth, Halford, Riot) who is a welcome addition to this group in my opinion. Thinking this is impressive in terms of drums will quickly have you second guessing when “Terror Train” begins. This is a blistering track and the guitar and drum feel that encompasses it speeds by you and yet is also very well laced with a technical flair. Hansi’s voice is on point for the whole record as he showcases both his powerful side on numbers that dictate this be so as well as the softer side on the ballad type numbers. As I enjoy Metal ballads I found particular interest in the ones they did on this release. “Seize The Day” and “Wicked Witch” are great from a ballad standpoint.
“Beneath These Waves” is fast becoming a favorite and this holds a very traditional style to its metal content. There is a lot of this present on “Crimson King”, but largely this release falls to the “Power Metal” motif more than anything else. According to Jon in a recent interview, Hansi had more to do with this release than he had as he had just become a Father and also had some health issues to deal with. Once things got back to normal pace the record was recorded and some of this piece is based on Stephen Kings “Dark Tower” books which Hansi is a fan of.
The band includes a cover of Led Zeppelins “The Immigrant Song” and it’s nice to see these guys also have a little loose fun on the record. This is a high recommendation for anyone who follows their respective bands and wants to sample what the two can come up with together.