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Iced Earth
Horror Show
June 2001
Released: 2001, Century Media
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: EvilG

HORROR SHOW is one of if not THE most anticipated release from an American metal band for 2001. It’s been three years since their last studio album, SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES and even though I haven’t had months for this to sink in I can already say that this album is both heavier and an improvement beyond it’s predecessor.

Although this is not a concept album, the songs on here follow the classic horror story themes encompassing The Mummy, Jack the Ripper, The Werewolf, Dracula, etc. This is the kind of stuff that kids find “horrifying” in a comic book sort of way. So yeah it’s kind of cheesy sounding in theory, but after reading the lyrics they have pulled it off without becoming ridiculous. In fact in places the horror stories act as metaphor for our lives. The horror show begins with “Wolf”, a ripping intro song in the characteristic Iced Earth style. That style is most defined by the riffing style of Jon Schaffer. New drummer, Richard Christy, really gets to show off his double kick speed on this one! “Damien” provides more diversity and darker moods. The intro itself is brilliant. The “choirs of the damned”, as I call them, also show up at the song’s conclusion. There is also a backward message at the end that you’ll have to record to your PC then play in reverse to figure out!! The chording at the beginning of “Im-Ho-Tep” is an example of how Iced Earth take the classic Iron Maiden metal sound, add their own touch to it and make it heavier! One guitar holds the main chunky riff while a backing guitar plays a higher sliding riff in the background providing a very catchy mid-paced song. The main riff in “Jeckyl and Hyde” is one of those that just puts a smile on my face – thrashy and locked in solid with the drums. In this one and in “Dracula” you get to hear Steve DiGiogio’s fretless bass at the forefront (I’m not a bass player, but I am assuming that’s what he’s playing there!). Unfortunately, DiGiogio did not make Iced Earth a priority and as a result is no longer a member of the band…too bad. The opening riff to “Frankenstein” is awesome - simple but very cool rhythm sound! The ballad “Ghost of Freedom” is the song on here that does not fit into the theme of the album. It’s a tribute to those who have fought for our very freedom and in Schaffer’s case his it pertains to his ancestors who have fought for his country. The CD closer, “The Phantom Opera Ghost”, is perhaps the best song on here for me. The mixture of Matt’s vocals with the female vocals of is awesome! The song varies between a ballad and a full on assault.

HORROR SHOW adds another fine chapter to the Iced Earth legacy. Musically it has all the elements that have gotten the band to where they are today. It does not cover a lot of new ground; sure it has some, but not enough for this band to get the attention they deserve. The problem is NOT the music, it’s that there are so many people who have never even heard of this band yet. Hopefully the momentum will continue on and we will see these guys getting accolades from more areas.

Next review: » Iced Earth - Horror Show
Previous review: » Iced Earth - Gettysburg 1863 (DVD)

Iced Earth
Horror Show
June 2001
Released: 2001, Century Media
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Rick

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.

Next review: » Iced Earth - Incorruptible
Previous review: » Iced Earth - Gettysburg 1863 (DVD)

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