DEMONS & WIZARDS, the side project of ICED EARTH mainman Jon Schaffer and BLIND GUARDIAN singer Hansi Kürsch, will release its third studio album, "III", on February 21, 2020 via Century Media Records. The LP marks the band's first collection of new material in 15 years.
The official music video for the disc's opening track, "Diabolic", can be seen below.
Kürsch states: "'Diabolic' for sure is a musical statement and its message is very clear and precise: we take no prisoners! We had a hard time figuring out a proper opener to 'III', but when 'Diabolic' took shape, we realized it was the perfect introduction to the album."
Schaffer adds: "This song is a sequel to 'Heaven Denies' and it is dark, heavy, vicious, melodic, and totally atmospheric, everything I love about songwriting and making records in eight minutes. 'Diabolic' has the right attitude to make a strong statement as the first song that people will hear after 15 years."
"III" track listing:
03. Wolves In Winter
04. Final Warning
05. Timeless Spirit
06. Dark Side Of Her Majesty
07. Midas Disease
08. New Dawn
09. Universal Truth
11. Children Of Cain
The "III" recording lineup is:
Hansi Kürsch – Lead and backing vocals
Jon Schaffer - Rhythm and lead guitars, bass guitar, 6- and 12-string acoustic guitars, mandolin, keyboards, backing vocals
Guest musicians on "III":
Brent Smedley - Drums
Jim Morris - Additional guitars, backing vocals
Jake Dreyer - Additional guitars
Ruben Drake - Bass
Thomas Hackman, Olaf Senkbeil, John Jaycee Cuipers, Zakery Alexander, Jeff Brant, Todd Plant, Jerome Mazza - Backing vocals
PA'dam chamber choir - Classical choir
Kürsch told Heavy New York about "III": "It will stand out completely. It's 14 years [since the last album] and you can feel that. And we're not even intending to go back and do something which will build on what we did in the past. Still, the roots are there. It's the definition of Jon and me. This cannot be denied, not one single second on this album. But it has a very intense, modern, new feeling to it. It goes away from what we've done in the past."
Added Jon: "Like he said, it's very honest. It's us. There's no question about who it is, but we've grown as individuals and as artists. I think you can hear that. There's a lot of big, huge dynamic range on this album, and it's going to take people on a journey, man. For sure."
During a press conference at this year's Hellfest, Jon stated about the songwriting process for "III": "At the end of [ICED EARTH's] 'Incorruptible' album cycle, I went out to the mountains in Arizona and hiked for a month and spent one week with my [ICED EARTH] bandmates, because we were going on hiatus. So the five of us went out into the desert and stayed together, and then I stayed three weeks by myself and got an enormous amount of power from that and energy from just staying away from the music business and not talking to management. I talked to Hansi about twice, and other than that, I was completely disconnected from everybody, and it was a really great thing. So when I got back to songwriting, it was, like, 'Boom!' Everything went really fast, and I knew there was really, really strong material, and it's good. And the arrangements came, and everything came, and I started sending Hansi stuff. I knew, from an instrumental standpoint, that this is some of the best material I've ever written. And then when he added his stuff on top, it was, like, 'Okay, we have something really special for the people.' And at the end of the day, I actually don't care if you guys love it, because I do, and [Hansi] does. And that sounds harsh, but that's art, and it's honest — it's actually honest. And it's real, and it is actually some of the best material I've written in my entire life, from my standpoint, and what [Hansi has] done, it's killer. And people are gonna be shocked, I think — very pleasantly shocked — by what's coming, honestly."
DEMONS & WIZARDS recently released remastered versions of its first two albums on all digital platforms. Remastered by Chris "Zeuss" Harris (ICED EARTH, QUEENSRŸCHE, SANCTUARY), "Demons & Wizards" (2000) and "Touched By The Crimson King" (2005) were also released as expanded deluxe editions in June. The expanded editions feature liner notes by Kürsch and Schaffer as well as bonus material and were released as a limited-edition digipak, deluxe 2LP with etching and LP booklet as well as digital deluxe editions.
Photo credit: Dirk Behlau