Saturday, February 22, 2020

Demons & Wizards : "III"

I do not review a great deal of power metal here. If you know my tastes it's not hard to understand why. It's not dark enough for me. I grew up listening to the bands that influenced power metal. I have the album cover to "Number of the Beast" tattooed on my left arm so that tells you my allegiance to the metal yodel. I  love Iced Earth before they got that dude from Into Eternity, but I never gave Blind Guardian much of a chance after an old room mate played me something from their 1995 album "Imaginations From the Otherside". It froliced like dwarves drinking to victory. In 95 my tastes leaned more toward death metal. I liked the cover of "Victim of Changes" they did for a Judas Priest tribute album. Never explored them further. The power metal genre as a whole   I am going to assume this is current Blind Guardian drummer Frederik playing drums on this. I dig the way his voice has a natural tremble of vibrato that strikes me as more emotive than operatic.  The more belted upper register more often associated with power metal doesn't come in until "Wolves of Winter".  There is a more subdued melodic sense to "Final Warning". It builds into a more thrash minded affair.

There is an acoustic strum to "Timeless Spirit". His voice sounds great here. The harmonies work here, where in some places the multi tracked vocals are something I have to warm up to. You can hear the Iced Earth influence in how some of the choruses bust out with the heavier vibe.  The falsetto wails this builds into is impressive considering this guy is 53. There is a more traditional metal gallop on "Darkside of Her Dark Majesty" .  Hansi is more aggressive on this one. He sounds almost like Blackie Lawless going into "Midas Disease". There are plenty of big arena rock power chords on that one which are pretty fun. The continue on a melodic and 80's influenced road with "New Dawn". The chorus is not as strong as what we have heard up until this point in the album.  "Universal Truth" finds his voice back in it's sweet. There is this croon that reminds me of Jack Skellington that I like the best. The fist pumping chorus to this one doesn't turn me off. "Split" has more of a thrash feel.

I had to listen to the last song "Children of Cain" twice before it clicked with me and I paid more attention. I like his singing at the beginning song. The gradual build makes this one feel more like a power ballad. He gets more aggressive with his dramatic singing than the music he sings over until the three minute mark and then it kicks in more like an Iced Earth song. It's been 15 years for this album and I think fans of the band will be pleased I will round it up to a 10.

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