Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Retrospective: Iced Earth (Part 2)

Days of Purgatory (1997)
Not really a stand-alone release, Days of Purgatory is a collection of the best songs from Iced Earth's first two albums, Iced Earth and Night of The Stormrider, re-recorded with their then-new singer, Matt Barlow. No 100% new tracks here, which puts me on the fence about the whole release. On one had it's nice to hear some of the songs redone with the clean, power metal vocals of Barlow (some songs he doesn't do so well at). On the other hand, re-recording the songs (even if it wasn't from my favorite era of Iced Earth's history) is like saying those first albums don't exist. The did a similar thing when Barlow was replaced for two albums by Tim "The Ripper" Owens; re-recording an EP (Overture of The Wicked) worth of classic Iced Earth tracks. It just seems like an odd path to take. It's worth the listen especially if you are a huge fan of the power metal days, but remember where these songs came from, and the men that composed them who are forgotten.

Something Wicked This Way Comes (1998)
One of my favorite albums, check out my page on this album for more.

Horror Show (2001)
An interesting 'concept album' of sorts; Horror Show tells the various tells of some of our nighttime horrors: werewolves, clowns, ghosts, mummies, Dracula, and Frankenstein monster all have their own songs, as well as several others. This album is alright, a far cry from their previous release, but still pretty decent. It has it's ups and downs, not keeping a consistent level of quality in the music or writing. One great song and surprise is a cover of Iron Maiden's "Transylvania", an instrumental track and really something you would not ordinarily expect on any release. The song makes it onto my collection of 20 Cover Songs That Are Better Then The Original, a list I made some time ago. Again this album is above average, but after such a superb release as Something Wicked, I expected so much more.

Tribute To The Gods (2002)
Quickly following Horror Show, Tribute To The Gods is a cover album by the group. I'm not sure why they chose to release a tribute album, but it works for me. I love a good cover, if a band can release an old song better then the original, then I am sold. This album covers the greats, like Kiss, Iron Maiden, Alice Cooper, AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult, and Judas Priest, hitting the classics, but also throwing in some lesser-known songs for flavor. Now unfortunately these lesser-knowns are my least favorite on the album, because to me if you're going to cover a popular song you can be average, but for a song very few can recognize, it has to be great, and they just couldn't pull it off. If you like cover songs/albums then Tribute To The Gods does not disappoint, if you want something spectacular then you need to keep looking.

    The Glorious Burden (2004)
    This is one of my least favorite Iced Earth albums; it just seems uninspired and forced, with lots of songs jammed together. The Glorious Burden is the first album, since Burnt Offerings, not to feature Matt Barlow as lead singer. During the writing of this album, Barlow decided to join the military and fight in Afghanistan (crazy!), being replaced by ex-Judas Priest singer, Tim "The Ripper" Owens (who replaced the original Judas Priest singer, Rob Halford, in 1997). This album is all about war, even going as far as to have a second disc (more like a bonus EP) with three songs dedicated to the Battle of Gettysburg. These songs are long and pretty boring, seemingly trying to echo the effect of the "Something Wicked" trilogy from Something Wicked This Way Comes, but to no avail. The only songs off these discs worth listening to is the first track "The Star-Spangled Banner" (how can you screw that up) and "When The Eagle Cries" - especially the unplugged version of the song (last track of the first disc). Other then those few songs, this is a poor excuse for an Iced Earth album, and I move it be stricken from the record!

    The Something Wicked Saga - Framing Armageddon (2007); The Crucible Of Man (2008)
    The only reason I combine these two album, aside for the fact that they are a double concept album, is because I have already gone into great deal about them. Otherwise these two albums are greatly different from each other, enough that one would never confuse them. Different singers and different sounds make these albums into two stand-alone albums, with fans of each.


    DPTH International said...

    I have to admit, that I love "horror Show". Probably not their best work, but it was my album of theirs and it sticks with me. I like the Gettysburg bonus disc better then The Glorious Burden. Doesn't get much air time here.

    I was estatic about the return of Matthew Barlow to Iced Earth with The Crucible of Man. I'd say as excited as Mathias Blad's return to Falconer for the album Northwind.

    The Klepto said...

    I was happy to hear of Barlow's return as well, but I was not satisfied with the final product. I think Tim Owens puts more soul into the The Something Wicked Saga, and would have preferred to have him finish out the tale and have Barlow start a new one (read my whole article comparing the two albums for more on that). Only time will tell what the future holds for Iced Earth