The first band on our review list for Copenhell 2019 is DEMONS & WIZARDS.
Before the high-profile power metal project will hopefully treat us with a superb power metal experience, I catch the last three songs of the Thursday opening gig by local Copenhagen band KONVENT. The four girls play a solid and well-received round of growling doom metal. Check out their Bandcamp, if you can find the time to do so.
The thing about today’s programme here at Copenhell is this: I’m not really hot for Tool, Slash, Stone Temple Pilots, and I’m leaving the reviews of those to my good colleague, Mia. There are basically two bands I’m looking forward to today, namely DEMONS & WIZARDS and VLTIMAS. With so little on my schedule, I’m of course counting on these two bands for sublime experiences!
During the late 80s and 90s, the main bands of Jon Schaffer and Hansi Kürsch were on the rise. Both ICED EARTH and in particular BLIND GUARDIAN enjoyed greater and greater popularity amongst power metal fans. The guitarist and the singer/bassist had long been been friends, but in 1997, the idea of actually joining forces arose, and in 1998, it finally became reality. The debut, Demons & Wizards, was released in 2000 to some critical acclaim as well as commercial success.
Five years later, the second album, Touched by the Crimson King, was released, and again, the reception was positive, although the commercial success never reached that of neither Iced Earth, nor Blind Guardian.
Power metal fans have been eager for more material from the two gentlemen, however, their busy schedules have prevented them from further collaboration. Until now. Remastered versions of the two albums have been released, the summer is booked, festival appearances are lined up, and Copenhell have bagged the package.
As the band appear, it becomes clear that this is indeed a fusion of Blind Guardian and Iced Earth plus keyboarder/producer Joost Van Den Broek. Schaffer and Kürsch share the stage with Jake Dreyer (guitar, Iced Earth), Marcus Siepen (bass, Blind Guardian guitarist) and Frederik Ehmke (drums, Blind Guardian).
Power metal isn’t quite as big in Denmark as it is in Germany, but, still, there’s a sort-of decent show for a Thursday afternoon before people are off from work, and the reception is warm. Demons & Wizards return the favour with a solid set of songs from the two albums. The setlist is, not surprisingly, spiced up with two songs from the Iced Earth and Blind Guardians catalogue, namely “Burning Times” from Something Wicked This Way Comes and “Welcome to Dying” from Tales from the Twilight World.
Schaffer appears on stage as a stately gentlemen, these days sporting short, silver-grey hair and ditto beard. One’s thoughts are lead to pictures of 19th century US generals. Kürsch, on the other hand, looks like your local bank clerk who’s taking the day off in slightly more casual clothes than usual. As much his voice has grown into something amazing since the first time I saw Blind Guardian in 1991, he always was the odd one out on stage, almost like the calm and slightly boring anti-thesis to the show around him. But it’s OK! He delivers.
Demons & Wizards is a great way of beginning the day, and as we head away from the Hades stage to the next musical endeavours, I keep humming the melodic masterpiece “Fiddler on the Green”. Great piece of music, that one.
1. Rites of Passage
2. Heaven Denies
3. Poor Man's Crusade
4. Crimson King
5. Love's Tragedy Asunder
6. Burning Times (Iced Earth)
7. Welcome to Dying (Blind Guardian)
8. The Gunslinger
9. Terror Train
10. Blood on My Hands
11. Fiddler on the Green
Playing Time: 45 minutes
Hansi Kürsch - vocals
Jon Schaffer - guitar
Jake Dreyer - guitar
Marcus Siepen - bass
Frederik Ehmke - drums
Joost Van Den Broek - keyboards