Iced Earth

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Night Of The Stormrider

Iced Earth - Night Of The Stormrider ©1992 Century Media
1. Angels Holocaust
2. Stormrider
3. The Path I Choose
4. Before The Vision
5. Mystical End
6. Desert Rain
7. Pure Evil
8. Reaching The End
9. Travel In Stygian

American power/thrash metal, good but came sort of too late. They basically play a hybrid of Lightning-era Metallica and Iron Maiden, with the bombastic power-metal vocals, cheesy choruses and "emotional" interludes. Night of the Stormrider is probably their best CD (and interestingly also their fastest and thrashiest) - things start to decline after this (though Burnt Offerings is almost as good) and are really hopeless from the Dark Saga onwards.

Structurally and compositionally, this is exactly like what Iron Maiden would sound - just about ten times faster. They basically have their "galloping" riffs - played so fast that they become permutations of triplets and fast alternate-picked notes on the low E-string. Jon Schaffer is an amazing rhythm guitarist - his masterful control and precision really shine on the tight and stuttering rhythms of "Angels Holocaust", "Before the Vision" and "Reaching the End". Though fast and thrashy, the songwriting follows a very melodic trail; it is a sort of the bridging gap between two revolutionary metal eras - the mid-paced, melodic sound of NWOBH and the a-melodic pure-rhythm riffage of Slayer-esque thrash/speed - that was realised about a decade too late. The production is weak and the instruments sound particularly non-threatening - everything sounds like it was smoothened out through hours of work with sandpaper and polish. The lead guitars are often too low in the mix even to be heard - whatever you do hear of them is forgettable and Kirk Hammett-like (I'm aware that the second description is redundant in light of the first). The lead singer tries too hard to project strong emotion into a song where none really is required. Though he sounds better than the later vocalists, he's not really very good. The drumming is good and suitable - lots of double bass, but a good balance of simplicity and complexity (nothing overindulgent or lazy). Riffs are often repeated throughout the album and give a good sense of continuity...thus, the album should be taken as a whole rather than a collection of random songs.

This is quite a good release - the songwriting is good on average and no "fillers" to detract from the good tracks that are present. Fun to listen to, once in a while - just try it to exorcise your nagging obsession/compulsion of imagining Iron Maiden going wild and playing reallly fast.

Review by Rahul Joshi

Review date: 02/1999

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The Dark Saga

Iced Earth - The Dark Saga ©1996 Century Media
1. Dark Saga
2. Died For You
3. Violate
4. The Hunter
5. The Last Laugh
6. Depths Of Hell
7. Vengeance Is Mine
8. Scarred
9. Slave To The Dark
10. A Question Of Heaven

Predating the Spawn movie by a year, Iced Earth took on the comic book anti-hero with this concept album. And like the movie, it is a decent idea featuring pretty pretty pictures but not a whole lot of substance. Iced Earth features classic metal derived from the usual suspect of influences, including Judas Priest, a little Queensryche (back in the day), Metallica (again, back in the day) and a touch of 80's thrash. Unfortunately most of this album rumbles along blithely consumed by its influences and does very little to pull me in. Usually this spawn finds itself ejected from the CD player to the dark confines of my CD rack.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 10/1998

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Days Of Purgatory

Iced Earth - Days Of Purgatory ©1997 Century Media
1. Enter The Realm
2. Colors
3. Angels Holocaust
4. Stormrider
5. Winter Nights
6. Nightmares
7. Pure Evil
8. Solitude
9. When The Night Falls
10. Desert Rain
11. The Funeral
12. Cast In Stone
13. Reaching The End
14. Travel In The Stygian
15. Iced Earth

From what I understand, Days of Purgatory is a reworking of older Iced Earth demo material with their '97 lineup. Or something like that. If you ask me, it's just another mediocre metal album that utilizes most of the cliche approaches of the genre. While Iced Earth plays with great ability, their songwriting at that point wasn't nearly as developed as I would like and thus much of this album is very uninteresting. If you are an Iced Earth fanatic, you'll dig this. I think I'll just return it to the person who gave it to me as a gift. Next year I want coal instead.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 12/1998

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Something Wicked This Way Comes

Iced Earth - Something Wicked This Way Comes ©1998 Century Media
1. Burning Times
2. Melancholy (Holy Martyr)
3. Disciples Of The Lie
4. Watching Over Me
5. Stand Alone
6. Consequences
7. My Own Savior
8. Reaping Stone
9. 1776 (instrumental)
10. Blessed Are You
11. Prophecy
12. Birth Of The Wicked
13. The Coming Curse

It's nice to hear a band that is firmly rooted in traditional metal and still manages to sound fresh and invigorating. Iced Earth, who has been bouncing around the scene for nearly a decade and switching line-ups as often as they changed their toothbrushes, is a prime example of taking influences from the masters such as Judas Priest and that power metal scene to more modern touches. Singer Matthew Barlow is gifted with a very diverse voice that has a range as wide as Geoff Tate's and can still pull off some serious growling on the faster numbers and some touching crooning on mellower numbers such as "Melancholy (Holy Martyr)". Focusing as much on strong melody as excellent riffs, Iced Earth is a multi-armed attack machine. "Disciples of the Lie", "Standing Alone" and "My Own Savior" are vicious thrash numbers that send Metallica back to their camp of bad career decisions while the album ending trilogy is a solid piece of work that many of today's more pompous acts would give a left kidney to have created. "Birth of the Wicked" has all the elements of a great heavy metal song: excellent rhythm pacing, strong harmony and melody, and sharp soloing. All in all, Iced Earth has proved you can take influences from all over, set the blender on "Good Crush", and create an album that reminds the listener of many eras of metal without pinning themselves to one thing. Nice work.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 06/1998

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Alive In Athens

Iced Earth - Alive In Athens ©1999 Century Media
CD one:
1. Burning Times
2. Vengeance Is Mine
3. Pure Evil
4. My Own Savior
5. Melancholy (holy Martyr)
6. Dante's Inferno
7. The Hunter
8. Travel In Stygian
9. Slave To The Dark
10. A Question Of Heaven
CD two:
11. Dark Saga
12. Last Laugh
13. Last December
14. Watching Over Me
15. Angels Holocaust
16. Stormrider
17. Path I Choose
18. I Died For You
19. Prophecy
20. Birth Of The Wicked
21. The Coming Curse
22. Iced Earth
CD three:
23. Stand Alone
24. Cast In Stone
25. Desert Rain
26. Brainwashed
27. Disciples Of The Lie
28. When The Night Falls
29. Diary
30. Blessed Are You
31. Violate

Though I didn't have the benefit of receiving the three CD set that lucky Europeans have (what do American metal labels have against us Stateside folks anyhow), I have to say this live double disc set is probably the best thing I can point to in the Iced Earth catalogue. Why? I finally have all the decent Iced Earth material in one collection rather than sprinkled throughout their occasionally sketchy back catalogue. Though I really enjoy 1998's Something Wicked This Way Comes, some of the other, older material I have heard did not quite do anything for me except rush to the used CD store. So with this live collection, their best material is highlighted and in one place.

For the most part, there doesn't seem to be much added to the material in the way of onstage improvisition, extra excitement (but then again, only the rarest of live CDs actually can perfectly capture the live vibe) or anything else to truly make this album stand out. You get to hear an enthusiastic crowd in between songs, but for the most part, the songs sound close to their studio counterparts. However, the band sounds exceptionally in sync with one another here and assuming there was no studio doctoring on the album, Matthew Barlow's vocals hold up well throughout. So with everything being neatly in place, there is something for either the hardcore Iced Earth fanatic who is probably best advised to search out the three CD version or for the curious metal fan who might want the Reader's Digest version of the Iced Earth catalogue here.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 10/1999

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