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Iced Earth
The Reckoning (single)
November 2003
Released: 2003, SPV
Rating: 5.0/5
Reviewer: EvilG

The astonishing story of 2003 in heavy metal revolves around the departure of Tim “Ripper” Owens from Judas Priest, his subsequent joining of Iced Earth, and the glorious return of Rob Halford to Judas Priest. The end result is a lot of ecstatic metalheads and none should be happier than Iced Earth mastermind, Jon Schaffer. After the departure of Matt Barlow from Iced Earth things looked a bit bleak to some and even I was worried about what might happen to one of my favorite bands. But faster than a laser bullet Ripper was announced as the new Iced Earth vocalist!

“The Reckoning (Don’t Tread On Me)” (fade out version) is what kicks off this new taste of Iced Earth on this 4-track sampler. Musically, this is safe ground for the band showing that although a lot has changed, that fans of past material have no reason to worry. Schaffer still belts out some of the best and tightest choppy/speedy/machine gun riffing that I’ve heard. He is easily one of my favorite rhythm guitarists. On this one Ripper doesn’t always sound like his typical self from say JUGLATOR or the dreaded DEMOLITION. In fact, Ripper hasn’t sounded this good since his previous band WINTER’s BANE!! My only problem is that this track is a fade out version!! What’t with that, gimme the full thing!!! “When the Eagle Cries (unplugged)” is a patriotic song related to the events of Sept. 11. If you liked “Ghost of Freedom” from HORROR SHOW, then you will love this. Again, Ripper totally shines making me totally forget the lackluster DEMOLITION album. Ripper is back singing much better material and fits in with this sound better than Priest’s unfortunate down-tuned “nu” mess that is DEMOLITION. The third of four tracks on here is the mid-tempo headbanger “Valley Forge (fade out version)”. This has perhaps the best solo I’ve heard in an Iced Earth song ever! This really stood out because even though Iced Earth has had good solos, they have never had anything that made me really take notice. Finally the reigns were let loose on this one and it shreds. Hopefully there will be more of this on the coming album! Too bad this one is also a fade out version…what a tease! The sampler closer, “Hollow Man”, begins with clean guitar and with Ripper sounding incredible. Even though I love his high-pitched wail, his lower voice on more emotive songs like this is where is also shines and isn’t as well known for…yet! Near the end Ripper reaches “Cathedral Spires” styles screams and sounds like the vocal god he is.

I can’t wait for the full-length ICED EARTH album THE GLORIOUS BURDEN. Iced Earth’s future looks brighter than ever. With the addition of a well known vocal god like Ripper, more people will for sure be checking out Iced Earth and they will realize that thev’e been missing out on one of the biggest underground success stories of the past decade. I hope this breaks the band to the next level because as a fan of Iced Earth I feel they deserve that push to the next level of success.
Track Listing

1. The Reckoning (Don't Tread On Me)
2. When The Eagle Cries (Unplugged)
3. Valley Forge
4. Hollow Man


Jon Schaffer – guitars
Tim “Ripper” Owens - vocals
Ralph Santolla – lead guitars
Richard Christy – drums
James "Jimmy" MacDonough - bass

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