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Released: 2001, Century Media
One of the most anticipated metal releases has just been dropped into my hands and I couldn’t be more excited. Iced Earth have been a staple in my CD collection for sometime so this release was on my list of CDs to purchase but luckily enough I received an advance copy so it has been in my CD player for quite a number of spins. Iced Earth’s last studio CD SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES was released in 1998 and it just hit a chord with me so I was greatly interested in what Jon Schaffer and company would throw at us this time. There had been much concern voiced by some metal fans that I spoke with that this CD would suffer from Jon’s collaboration with Hansi Kursch of Blind Guardian and would sound more like BG than IE. Well let me dispel that rumour right off the bat. Nowhere on this CD can I detect IE moving towards a BG sound. Rhythm guitarist and band leader Jon Schaffer is again joined by Matt Barlow: vocals and Larry Tamowski: lead guitar. There are also a couple of notable additions to the Iced Earth fold. For bass duties legendary bass player Steve DiGiorgio (Sadus, Testament, Death, Control Denied) was added and the drum stool was filled by Richard Christy(Control Denied, Burning Inside). Unfortunately, DiGiorgio left the band after the recording of the CD. All in all this lineup was enough in itself to make this a much anticipated release.
For those that don’t know, HORROR SHOW, is a concept album where each song is based around a classic horror character. So even though there is a general theme running through the whole disc the songs stand on their own as separate entities. The CD kicks of with the ripper "Wolf" which is quite obviously about the nightmare of being a werewolf. "Damien" follows closely after with over 9 minutes of mid tempo atmospheric metal complete with angelic choirs. Matt Barlow stamps this tune with his unique vocal style as he switches from a whisper to a shriek in his bid to convey the emotion of the lyrics. "Ghost of Freedom" follows in the footsteps of "Melancholy" with its acoustic intro and the emotional vocal delivery of Barlow. Anyone who reads my reviews on a regular basis knows that I love these slow ballads and this one is no exception. Another of my favourites on the CD is "Dragon’s Child". What horror legend it is supposed to be based on alludes me at the moment of writing this but I found myself skipping to this track again and again. A nice inclusion is the track "Transylvania" originally recorded by Iron Maiden. This song fits the theme of the CD perfectly and Iced Earth do a great rendition. What horror theme would be complete without the king of all horror characters "Dracula". This song has some of my favourite lyrics on the whole CD "I am the Dragon of blood, a relentless prince of pain, Renouncing God on His throne, My blood is forever stained". Awesome! The CD closes with an interesting twist for Iced Earth. "The Phantom Opera Ghost" features duelling male and female vocals. If I would have to pick a favourite song on the release this would be it. Great interplay between Barlow and his female partner. Great ending to a great release.
Originally , when I had heard that Iced Earth would be basing all the songs on the horror theme I didn’t know what to expect. It seemed kinda simplistic at the time and I didn’t want to get my hopes up. I needn’t have worried. The horror theme works out great and links the songs together without making every song part of the one big story. HORROR SHOW is destined to make it onto more than one list of the TOP CDS of 2001.
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