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Iced Earth
Dark Genesis
January 2002
Released: 2001, Century Media
Rating: 5.0/5
Reviewer: CrashTest

DARK GENESIS is a release that I have been eagerly anticipating for months. I have not been disappointed. For those of you who have been living under a rock, DARK GENESIS is a box set that features five CDs and some tremendous artwork and packaging. The five discs are remastered and remixed versions of four previous releases: ENTER THE REALM, ICED EARTH, NIGHT OF THE STORMRIDER and BURNT OFFERINGS. The fifth disc is TRIBUTE TO THE GODS. I will talk about each of those elements in a moment. First, I have to tackle the packaging.

The CDs come in a slipcase style boxset, so they don’t have their own jewel cases or covers. However, each CD does feature new artwork which appears in part on the actual face of the CD. The full “cover” can be seen behind the clear plastic backing which holds the CD in place as well as in the booklet. In the middle of the package is a 30 page booklet featuring an introductory history of the band by Sumit Chandra, the lyrics to each album, a plethora of band photos and art and a closing piece written by Jon Schaffer which explains the TRIBUTE TO THE GODS disc. The only complaint I have about the package is that Century Media, or whomever they hired, pressed the wrong cover onto four of the five CDs. Yeah, so that’s a major screw-up, but Century Media is offering to rectify the situation. I’ve been told by a few people who mailed the 4 CDs in for exchange, that, in addition to corrected CDs, the label also sends back several “goodies” such as CDs from other bands, stickers and a t-shirt. Haven’t sent mine in yet.

Now let’s get down to the music. The biggest benefit to having this collection is in the first three discs. ENTER THE REALM is the demo that got Iced Earth their deal with Century Media. This remastered version is the first time the demo has been offered to the public since it’s release on tape more than a decade ago. Fans who have been stuck with a second or third generation bootleg tape will be pleased. The first two label releases, ICED EARTH and NIGHT OF THE STORMRIDER sound phenomenal with the remastering and mixing. My biggest problem with the original releases were that you could hardly hear the vocals. That has been rectified, along with other limitations such as the background noise and mediocre mix which plagued the original releases. I have spoken to some hardcore (more hardcore than me) fans who have said they can tell a difference with the new BURNT OFFERINGS, but I guess I haven’t listened closely enough. On to the TRIBUTE TO THE GODS CD though ...

TRIBUTE is just that, a tribute. Jon explains in the booklet that these are the songs and bands that inspired him to become a musician. The 11 tracks cover classics from AC/DC, Iron Maiden, KISS, Blue Oyster Cult, Alice Cooper, Judas Priest and Black Sabbath. No, these aren’t all metal songs by any stretch of the imagination, but they were all heavy and were all influential on the music we listen to today. Jon and I are approximately the same age, so I know exactly where he’s coming from when he pays tribute to these guys. The best songs are the ones that are “metalicized” hard rock songs. My favorites are both Blue Oyster Cult tracks, the cover of AC/DC’s “It’s A Long Way to the Top” and both KISS covers. And that’s saying something, since the popularity and fan-loyalty of KISS has been a mind-boggling mystery to me, exceeded only by the likes of Manowar. I’m one of those people who “just don’t get it”. As for the covers which were metal before Iced Earth grabbed hold of them, they aren’t quite as interesting, with the exception of “Hallowed Be Thy Name” and “Black Sabbath”. Frankly, the guys play it pretty close to the original, which means the originals are much better. As a side note, I burned an extended version of TRIBUTE on a CD-R for my own enjoyment and I added the covers of “The Ripper”, “Electric Funeral” and “Shooting Star” which are featured on other discs. It makes for a killer listening experience.

Overall, this is a great collection to own as a whole. It’s the synergy of all 5 discs and the packaging that make this a perfect 5, but I would rate each disc individually as follows: ENTER THE REALM (3.5/5), ICED EARTH (4/5), NIGHT OF THE STORMRIDER (4.75/5), BURNT OFFERINGS (4.5/5) and TRIBUTE TO THE GODS (4.25/5).

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