Released: 2007, SPV
Rating for new song “Ten Thousand Strong”: 4/5
Rating for the re-recorded Something wicked trilogy: 3/5
The hype machine is in full gear as Iced Earth fans are treated to a new EP featuring one new song and three re-recorded songs. OVERTURE OF THE WICKED offers the novelty of hearing vocalist Tim Owens sing some Matt Barlow (former Iced Earth vocalist) 1998-era material but is the one new song worth the purchase price? That depends on how much of a Iced Earth fanatic you are I guess!
The new song, “Ten Thousand Strong”, might not offer any big surprises (aside from how awesome the song is!), but promises great things for the forthcoming Iced Earth concept album, FRAMING ARMAGEDDON (Something Wicked Part 1), coming this fall. The best thing about the track is that guitarist/songwriter Jon Shaffer is keeping the speed and intensity! Tim's performance on this one is excellent. I really think Tim has done some of his best vocals in Iced Earth. After this great opening track, we are treated to a re-recording of the 1998 Something Wicked trilogy with “Prophecy”, “Birth of the Wicked”, and “The Coming Curse”. I'm not sure why the band wanted to re-record these already brilliant songs. I know it sets up of the story and makes sense to include but from a music standpoint, if they are just covers of the original that offer nothing new, what is the point? They are all good, and of course it's interesting to compare the 2 vocalists. However, the vocals are hard to compare, and the exercise is perhaps pointless to do. Both singers are excellent and execute the songs with their own style. Some differences exist – the main being the overall sound. The original seems a little fuller and smoother. The drum sound is also noticeably different. In places on the re-recordings the drums sound (for lack of a better word) separated. By that I mean the double kick sound is so different from the snare. The double kicks sound triggered and the snare sound is a bit lifeless at times. It's a bit weird to explain, but it was odd to me on my first few spins.
In terms of the music, the original “Prophecy” has a build-up that is not as immediate as the re-done version. The original also has better bass guitar. The new version of “Prophecy” has more distorted guitars and the double kick pattern sounds different. The guitar solos are not exact which is not a big deal. For “Birth of the Wicked”, the original has a smoother sound but the guitar solo is much better on the re-recording than the original. Finally, “The Coming Curse” originally started with 1:30 of piano, while the '07 version begins with the heavy riffing. Again the double kick patterns are a little more technical on the new one.
So while this is fun to listen to, it's not crucial to own, unless you like myself love everything Iced Earth. If so, by all means, check this out. If you are a casual fan, you're better off checking out a full length album or waiting for the forthcoming studio album...