Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Album of the Week 11/06/06:
Demons & Wizards - Touched By The Crimson King

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Suggested by: MH

MH: Why I like Demons and Wizards. Jon Shaeffer. He is the mastermind of Iced Earth and half of Demons and Wizards, (along with the lead singer of Blind Guardian). The thing I like best about him, is that you can totally tell when you're listening to his bands. He has such a fast playing style, and I think, secretly (or not so secretly) wants to be in Iron Maiden. This album is one of the reasons I wanted to start an Album of the Week place. It's an album that I have, like, but don't listen to enough. Pretty much all of my Iced Earth catalog and the other Demons and Wizards have been listened to but not as much as they could be.

Sometimes his playing is so fast that I wonder how it is done. Then we saw them in concert and I focused on his playing to see how he did it. I found out that at least on one song he has the same guy playing the same riff,but alternates hitting certain notes so it sounds like this incredible riff done by one guitar, but it is done by two. God, if he was that good, I'd have to worry about whether or not he was of this earth. This Iced Earth.

One of the things I like best, and it is exemplified in this album, is his usage of mystical themes and old world imagry. All very visual and tough at the same time. I mean, the album is called Touched by the Crimson King. Wicked Witch was a stand out track to me. I also love his useage of background operatic vocals. I think he wishes that he lived in the time of Wagnerian Double basses and monks chanting their chants. Cause with the current album, they are all on there, but for this generation. Now, I'm not sure how much lasting power this album has though. Sometimes after I get done listening to this, I put it away and don't bring it out unless I have a jones for it. Which I don't know if it's a flaw, or if it just takes a certain mood to listen to this stuff.

Plus, he's kind of hot. He rides a Harley, and has a bad back. Hot.

MJ: Lo and behold – the riffmaster himself, Jon Schaffer! This was a good pick for the AOTW. I was so excited when this was coming out - I didn’t even know they were working on a new album. Then it came out and I didn’t really listen to it that much. And truthfully, it’s not like I play the first Demons & Wizards all that much either.

So what’s the deal? Well, it’s certainly not a problem with the music. Schaffer’s riffs are extra-meaty, per usual. He’s definitely one of my favorite metal shreaders. The lyrics? I don’t think so. I don’t even now what the hell they’re talking about on this one, but they certainly don’t get in the way. So what’s left? The voice. The singer is the guy from Blind Guardian, Hansi Kursch. I’ve tried for a while to get into Blind Guardian. I’ve bought some CD’s – thought it sounded pretty good, but in the end I don’t go back to them. His voice is not awful – in fact it’s very unique and he can hit the notes. But I guess it’s just not for me. This week’s AOTW made that clear to me for the time being.

I thought about how I would rank the vocalists Schaffer has worked with, and came up with:

Matt Barlow
Tim “Ripper” Owens
Hansi Kursch

I’m not ruling out my ability to revisit this at some point in the future. Maybe his voice will grow on me. But I couldn’t help but think how awesome this album would have been if Barlow or Ripper were on vocal duty. Wow.

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