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Touched by the Crimson King (2005) is heavy metal supergroup Demons & Wizards' follow up to their eponymous debut album (2001).
For those not in the know, Demons & Wizards was formed by Hansi Kursch (Vocals) and Jon Schaffer (Guitars), of Blind Guardian and Iced Earth respectively, and Touched by the Crimson King itself is lyrically inspired by Stephen King's heptalogy 'The Dark Tower', a body of work which I'm quite familiar with, but ultimately does not have too much bearing on how the album pans out.
The album really starts off with a bang. The opener, 'Crimson King' is a real powerhouse of dynamics, ranging from the loud choral intro to a 'Wall-of-Hansi' bridge with more vocal harmonies and melodies than you could shake a microphone at. 'Beneath These Waves' is a more-than-adequate second track, complete with minute-long 'cello outro - it's certainly pleasant, but I'm not sure if it's entirely welcome. 'Terror Train' is a personal highlight, however. Lyrically based on Blaine the manic train from 'The Dark Tower', Schaffer stares into the mouth of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and RSI and laughs hysterically as he palm-mutes all the way through the tracks 4:46 length as an army of Kursches tackle a demented train (Enjoy the ride you'll stay with me...).
Unfortunately for both the listener and D&W, the album really tails off from there (save for an incredible bridge riff in 'The Gunslinger'). The 3 slower songs try to emulate the success of 'Fiddler on the Green' from D&W's debut without much joy at all, and the other remaining songs don't really capture the imagination too much.
'Touched by the Crimson King' is also available in a Limited Edition version, but, save for Lunar Lament (an adequate by-the-numbers D&W track), there really isn't much there.
It could have been great, it could have been poor, but whilst 'Touched by the Crimson King' is neither of these, it leans more toward the former. It's definitely a good effort, but to warp a cliche it has more filler than killer.
The second release from power metal super-group Demons & Wizards, 'Touched by the Crimson King' is inspired by Stephen King's 'The Dark Tower' series of books; something of which I am content to have absolutely no knowledge. Musically, the album is a step beyond its predecessor as guitarist Jon Schaffer extends his riff vocabulary beyond repetitive triplets and Hansi Kürsch shows off his entire vocal range in a fairly excellent performance.
The album still suffers from a lack of good ideas, despite coming six years after its predecessor (a time during which neither of the mother bands Iced Earth or Blind Guardian were particularly active either), and is ultimately rather forgettable save for a couple of good choruses. 'Seize the Day' and 'Wicked Witch' are acoustic ballads that entirely lack Blind Guardian's flair, and even the closing cover of Led Zeppelin's well-known 'Immigrant Song' ends up as an anticlimax, as it's just so insubstantial.
1. Crimson King
2. Beneath These Waves
3. Terror Train
4. Seize the Day
5. The Gunslinger
6. Love's Tragedy Asunder
7. Wicked Witch
9. Down Where I Am
10. Immigrant Song (Led Zeppelin cover)
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Crimson King
2 Beneath These Waves
3 Terror Train
4 Seize The Day
6 Love's Tragedy Asunder
7 Wicked Witch
9 Down Where I Am
10 Immigrant Song