When Demons and Wizards announced their first ever US tour earlier this year, the news spread like wildfire. With the addition of supporting acts Lizzy Borden and Týr, this tour has been one of the most anticipated of the year for metalheads across the country.
Fans have been eagerly waiting, some for over a decade, to witness Demons and Wizards live for the first time. Formed in 1998 by masterminds Hansi Kürsch of Blind Guardian and Jon Schaffer of Iced Earth, Demons and Wizards have only released two albums to date, Demons and Wizards and Touched by the Crimson King. Lack of activity over the years hasn’t stopped the musical giants from staying fresh on the minds of their die hard fans. Monday night was a testament to that as the supergroup arrived at Gas Monkey Live in Dallas to fans wrapped around the building, well before the doors opened. At 6:30pm, the sea of fans began to enter the venue and immediately swarmed the merchandise stand.
The merchandise line was still stretched across the venue and spilling into the bar area when the Faroese Vikings in Týr took the stage. Known for blending melodic metal and harmonized vocals that echo stories of Viking lore, Týr always captures the audience’s attention when they take the stage. The band charged out one at a time before being joined by guitarist, vocalist, and founding member, Heri Joensen. The set began with tracks “Blood of Heroes” and “Mare of the Night.” The guitar tones were crisp and the harmonies were flawless. Guitarist Attila Vörös is the newest face on the Týr line-up but the guy didn’t miss a note. The crowd fed off the energy of bassist Gunnar H. Thomsen as he thrashed around and covered every inch of the stage. The harmonized Faroese vocal intro of “Tróndur í Gøtu” sent chills through the crowd before they were hit by the crushing double bass offered up by drummer Tadeusz Rieckmann. The 35 minute set closed out with fans pumping their fist to the sky as they sang along to “By the Sword in My Hand” and “Hold the Heathen Hammer High.”
Up next was Lizzy Borden. This is a band that I’ve heard and seen on multiple flyers throughout the years, but honestly never took the time to listen. As soon as they took the stage and I heard the first guitar notes of “My Midnight Things,” I was kicking myself for not digging into this band sooner. The harmonized guitar solos pierced through the PA and the heavy rhythms had the crowd banging their heads. As front person Lizzy Borden walked on stage clad in a black gown and glistening silver skull mask, I had no idea what to expect next. I felt as if I took a step back to a time before I was born and was witnessing what heavy metal was in the early days. I couldn’t help but think that this is what it would be like if Iron Maiden, Twisted Sister, and Alice Cooper had a baby. Aside from the countless costume changes, smearing fake blood on fans in the front row during “There Will Be Blood Tonight,” and all around on-stage theatrics, the musicianship and sound was some of the best I’ve heard in awhile. Lizzy Borden didn’t have a dull moment throughout and delivered a solid set of melodic heavy metal. I’ll definitely catch them live going forward any chance that I get.
Finally it was time for Demons and Wizards to take the stage for the very first time in Texas. Joining Hansi and Jon on stage was guitarist Jake Dreyer from Iced Earth, and bassist Marcus Siepen, along with drummer Frederik Ehmke, both from Blind Guardian. Tombstones were placed around the stage, adding a touch of mystery and atmosphere to the set. The crowd erupted when each member took the stage and the set began with “Heaven Denies” from the band’s 2000 self-titled album. Jon’s guitar tone packed a punch and as would be expected, he didn’t miss a note with his machine-like picking hand. The rhythm section was tight and the vocals came through at just the right levels. Hansi’s vocals are some of the best in the business and they only seem to get better over the years.
You’d never think that this band had only performed a handful of shows in their career. True professionals and masters of their craft, Demons and Wizards performed a flawless set. Stepping away from the Demons and Wizards catalogue, the band also performed two Iced Earth songs, “I Died For You” and “Burning Times,” as well as two Blind Guardian tracks, “Welcome to Dying” and “Valhalla.” The crowd sang their hearts out and lost their voices as they chanted the members’ names in between songs. Hair flew and the mosh pit was steady the entire set. This show was one that fans had waited for for years, and they weren’t disappointed. There’s no telling if Demons and Wizards will ever return to the United States, so I recommend not missing out on this tour.
– Corey Smith
– click to enlarge photos –