September 17, 2019, 11 months ago

Rich Catino

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On September 5th, the Demons & Wizards, Lizzy Borden, Týr tour arrived at the Playstation Theater in Times Square, New York City. First up were Denmark’s Týr with songs about Viking lore, mythology, and Norse religion, it’s a mix of traditional guitar riffs, melodic leads and vocals, and charging rhythms. American metalheads are no strangers to the Viking/folk/pagan metal genre evident by the crowd’s enthusiasm as the band hit the stage opening with “Blood Of Heroes”, off the album Valkyrja. Three in a row (“Fire And Flame”, “Gates Of Hel”, “Ragnars Kvæði”) from the latest album Hel retains the qualities they are known for. Great band who bring their own thing to the table in such a varied lineup. 

Lizzy Borden… you Headbangers Ball viewers in the ‘80s remember these guys. Frontman Lizzy, with his brother Joey Scott on drums the only original members, with young newcomers on the guitars and bass. While the stage itself was void of the usual props they are known for, Lizzy still was in costume, changed masks every song or so, wielding an axe and spilled the blood for “There Will Be Blood Tonight”, American flag in his outfit for “American Metal”. “Master Of Disguise” and hit “Me Against the World”, metal classics. While the audience were power metal peoples, many enjoyed the set and knew several of the songs. Lizzy was a great choice for contrast and variety in the bill.  

In the case of the old saying “the sum of the parts are greater than the whole”, well, not the case for Demons & Wizards. It’s as important. A side-project of old friends, and power metal royalty… Hansi Kürsch (singer for Blind Guardian), and Iced Earth’s guitarist/songwriter Jon Schaffer, Demons & Wizards released the self-titled debut in 2000, and Touched By The Crimson King (2005). The live band features Blind Guardian alumni Marcus Siepen on bass and drummer Frederik Ehmke, with Jake Dreyer (Witherfall, Iced Earth) on lead guitar. “Heaven Denies” a strong opener, but man, when “Poor Man’s Crusade” began, and rolled into its golden charge, the crowd exploded with screams, headbanging, and singing.  Positioned between the fans and the band I actually felt the energy while taking pictures. Incredible! Seated on stools, Jon with the acoustic guitar and Hansi’s old world vocal is a lighter side to the guys natural chemistry. “Gallows Pole” and “My Last Sunrise” a perfect marriage of melody, power and dynamics. And to boot, if getting fourteen songs was not enough, covers of “Burning Times” and ballad “I Died for You” (with surprise guest, former singer, Mat Barlow) by Iced Earth, Blind Guardian classics “Valhalla” and ”Welcome to Dying” brought down the house. 

Looking forward to the new Demons & Wizards album in 2020.

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