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Demons & Wizards

Taking their name from 1972's breakthrough Uriah Heep album, Tampa, Florida's progressive power metal band Demons & Wizards are an occasional and longtime side project for Blind Guardian vocalist Hansi Kursch, and Iced Earth guitarist Jon Schaffer. Their sound manages to meld old-school symphonic power metal to thoroughly modern production and progressive tendencies. The pair became friends while co-billed to tour with their respective bands in Tampa. Due to full-time commitments in primary projects, they've recorded very sporadically since releasing their acclaimed, self-titled debut long-player in 1999. Despite consisting of only two permanent members, the pair have enlisted top-flight studio talent when the situation dictates and have managed to bring them under the sonic rubric that defines D&W's style: Stacked, choir-like harmony vocals, melodic, twinned lead guitars, clean production, driving drums, and classically influenced prog keyboards. After a world tour in 2000 with additional friends brought in to fill out the lineup, Demons & Wizards didn't record again until 2005's Touched by the Crimson King for Steamhammer/SPV. The cast on the date included lead guitarist, co-producer, mixing and mastering engineer Jim Morris, keyboard giant Howard Helm, session bassist Ruben Drake (present on all Shaffer solo projects), and ex-Halford (now Fates Warning) drummer Bobby Jarzombek. Upon release, Touched received more critical attention than its predecessor for its epic-sounding mix and lineage progressive metal direction. Given Kursch's decades-long membership in the always-active Blind Guardian and Shaffer's various side projects outside of Iced Earth's orbit -- Purgatory (guitars, lead vocals), the synth metal project Sons of Liberty -- they were unable to record together for nearly 15 years. In late 2019, as their primary bands were either recording or on break after touring, the pair reconvened and rounded up Morris, Drake, and drummer Brent Smedley. They also recruited the PA'dam Chamber Choir (Kamerkoor PA'dam) from the Netherlands, and a slew of other vocalists. The band played advance shows including a particularly triumphant performance at 2019's Wacken Open Air with vocalist Marcela Bovio (Mayan and ex-Kamelot) in the lineup. After a handful of videos from the show and the officially released "Diabolic" directed by Ivan Čolić, the album III appeared from Century Media Records in February of 2020. It charted inside the Top 20 on several major streaming lists. A world tour was planned then postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
© Steve Huey /TiVo


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