Turkish born Demir Demirkan will turn more than a few heads and ears with his latest seven song project War III. Demirkan emerges with material that wholeheartedly embraces his hard rock heritage while still imposing a design upon the release’s structure and the individual sound of the songs that’s thoroughly modern and attuned to many of the genre’s predilections without ever pandering to its target audience. Listeners, casual and otherwise, are fortunate Demirkan shows no inclinations for showy virtuosity – his guitar playing skills are clearly several cuts above average, but his taste is immaculately developed as well. Demirkan has no need, either, to bulldoze listeners with one blazing rock guitar track after another and War III contains ample evidence for his mastery of dynamics and willingness to vary musical textures over the course of a collection. Demir Demirkan’s War III is a reminder of hard rock’s potent power and the added bite it carries in the hands of a thoughtful, intelligent musician.
The album’s strongest vocal track comes straight out of the gate with the song “Freedom”, but it never comes at the expense of the guitar work or other instrumentation. There’s a light presence of keyboards in the song but, largely, Demirkan opts to focus on six string heroics that are never gratuitous – as illustrated best by his soloing near the song’s end. “Hold On to the Innocence” is our first real evidence that Demirkan isn’t your typical hard rock avatar – instead, he’s a capable songwriter with a vision extending past fiery solos and intense power chord riffing. The acoustic side to this song is delivered with every bit of the same gravitas we hear from the electric and the two disparate sounds come together in this song with nary a hiccup. He reserves his fiercest hard rock attack for the song “Money Is” and it has a rambunctious line of assault from the first with a count-in kicking things off. The obvious live nature of this recording makes it an even more effective performance and it genuinely sounds like a kickin’ rock band running through the song for the first time without any of the occasional clumsiness accompanying first run-throughs.
“I Conform” is one of the release’s more unusual and thoughtful efforts. We get some of the same guitar dramatics distinguishing the surrounding songs, but it’s mixed with an increased emphasis on melody, primarily via piano and keyboards, while he varies his standard guitar sound just enough to give the track a different flavor. The lyrics are challenging personal fare, but never so intimate listeners don’t have a line into his personal experiences. “Let It Burn” is another curve ball, albeit a milder one, that shows unsuspected variety in his guitar playing the earlier songs don’t reveal. The funkafied leanings he shows off in the early portions of the song segue, naturally, into playing much more in accord with what’s come before, but these different forms fit together rather nicely. Demir Demirkan has made an impressive musical, vocal, and lyrical statement with War III sure to survive and age well in coming years. It will likely elevate his profile, as well, thanks to its overall excellence.