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I was really eager to listen to this album. ‘Touched By The Crimson King’ was my first Demons & Wizards album, and I got it before I did their earlier release, ‘Demons & Wizards.’ I wasn’t sure quite what to expect, but I knew it had to be something great. I mean, c’mon. This is basically a fusion of Blind Guardian and Iced Earth. Eagerly, I popped the CD into my stereo…
Instantly, ‘Crimson King’ started to play, and I was speechless. This was absolutely amazing. Instant euphoria within the first two seconds. I knew this album was gonna be good… but I never expected it to be this good. The rest of the album can’t possibly be as good as this first song, can it? Unfortunately… no.
Don’t get me wrong, however. The rest is also great, just not AS great. ‘Terror Train,’ ‘Beneath These Waves’ and ‘Dorian’ are solid power/speed metal works. But unfortunately, that’s about it. The whole rest of the tracks are either average/mediocre, or slightly above average.
‘Crimson King’ and ‘Terror Train,’ in my opinion, and ‘Dorian,’ ‘Beneath These Waves,’ and ‘Seize The Day’ are some of the best power metal songs written and essential for any power metal enthusiast. But they’re few compared to the rest of the not-so-great songs. First, let me focus on the good part of the album.
Schaffer’s guitar-playing, like in all Iced Earth releases, creates the perfect dark atmosphere. But the problem with Iced Earth for me was always the vocals. Barlow was alright, but Tim Owens did a terrible job… Hansi, on the other hand, the incredible vocalist from Blind Guardian, was always my favorite singer. (Tied with Bruce Dickinson from Iron Maiden, of course.) Demons & Wizards is basically Iced Earth with Hansi as the singer. The combination is perfect; Hansi’s voice and Schaffer’s guitar-playing work amazingly well together, better than one might first imagine.
Of course the production here is good as well. Nothing amazing and worth raving on about, but it IS good. The emphasis on vocals is really great, and combined with the drumming it adds a great deal of power to Hansi’s voice.
So now we get to the bad part of the CD… Fillers. And a hell of a lot of them. Around half the album, actually. ‘The Gunslinger?’ ‘Love’s Tragedy Asunder?’ ‘Wicked Witch?’ ‘Down Where I Am?’ All those are pointless songs that so nothing for me. The North American version of this album has a few bonus tracks as well, which also are pretty much pointless to me.
Bonus tracks aside, the album finishes off with ‘Immigrant Song.’ (Yes, the cover of the famous Led Zeppelin tune.) It is an okay closing of the album, but I definitely like Zeppelin’s version of this better. Hansi’s got an amazing voice, and I already said he is my favorite vocalist, but he just doesn’t fit here. Sorry Hansi.
Overall, I’d say this album is okay. If the whole album was filled with tunes like ‘Crimson King’ and ‘Terror Train,’ it’d probably deserve a perfect 100. But yes, the number of fillers on here is amazingly high, and enough to bring down the rating to an 80. (Still not a bad rating… but could obviously be better.) If you can find it cheap, ($12 and under), I’d recommend getting it for just the first 4 songs alone. If not, save your money for something better.