A native of Turkey, Demir Demirkan’s musical upbringing naturally assumed a much different trajectory than experienced by his American or European contemporaries and peers. He began playing at a very young age, as most great players do, and culled his initial influences from guitarists such as Ritchie Blackmore and Eric Clapton before hearing the work done by then cutting edge guitar players like Malmsteen and Vinnie Moore. Demirkan rededicated himself to the instrument with a whole new goal – not to mimic the playing of those aforementioned musicians, but rather to master similar techniques and discover his own voice and style through consistent wood-shedding. The continual honing of his craft has been successful and his latest release War III is a seven song hard rock album written and played with every ounce of the intelligence and commitment that this musical style demands and deserves. He’s a far from self indulgent player and the songs here are fully realized rather than just vehicles for his soloing talents.
“Freedom” begins War III on a tone-setting note and full of the assertiveness and skill top flight hard rock demands of its practitioners. The song has an unusual arrangement, in some respects, and builds tension in an expert way. The release comes through his stunning fretwork and well timed choruses and crescendos never stepping over the line into heavy-handedness. The musical excellence he achieves with the song is matched by his band mates, particularly the drumming on this beefy opener. The second song “Hold On to the Innocence”, like the first, doesn’t attempt to remake the wheel in terms of subject matter, but Demirkan’s cross-cultural frame of reference gives an unique spin to his writing and playing. The fusion of acoustic and electric guitars here is brought off quite adeptly and he proves himself equally capable on both instruments.
The romping, careening power of “Money Is” demands some addition bite from Demirkan as both a singer and guitarist. He delivers and then some. The hard-charging riffing powering much of the performance never gets away from him and Demirkan unreels some flamethrower leads in this song that singe the ears. “I Conform” is similar, in some minor respects, to the earlier “Hold On to the Innocence” insofar that it slow things down and aims for a more expansive musical treatment. The treatment, however, is closer to Pink Floyd than hard rock and the strong presence of keyboards of various forms alongside piano makes it notably different on that level alone. Returning to the theme of fire, the following song “Let It Burn” is another quality entry on the release that allows him an opportunity to stretch his guitar skills for listeners and show there’s no way you can pigeonhole him as a writer or player. War III is a hard rock release, for sure, but Demirkan shows off much more variety than your central casting issue hard rock musician and each of these different sides to his musical character is equally convincing.