Iced Earth
Framing Armageddon


2.0
poor

Review

by Jorn van Schaïk USER (172 Reviews)
September 11th, 2007 | 44 replies


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Iced Earth release their most tepid, unmoving album in years. A classic example of concept album bloat syndrome.

The change of a vocalist for a band usually is a breaking point in the career of that same band. For example, the addition of Bruce Dickinson really catapulted Iron Maiden into the mainstream. Now what does this have to do with Iced Earth, you ask? Well, Iced Earth lost their Matt Barlow to the police force in 2003, who was revered as the singer that brought success to Iced Earth, and took records such as the classic "Burnt Offerings" and "Horror Show" to a new level. Replacing him was Tim Owens (ex-Judas Priest), who for the second time in his life, had to step in the shoes of a highly acclaimed vocalist.

We can safely say, with the second record since this change, that Iced Earth have not recovered from the loss of Matt Barlow. Whereas The Glorious Burden had some gems in a sea of mediocrity (Declaration Day, the Gettysburg trilogy), on this album all of those gems seem to have been forgotten. Every single actual song (don't worry, I'll get to the interludes soon enough), revels in a slow, plodding tempo, unmemorable vocal lines, and uncreative song structures. There is not a single chorus stuck in my head after the duration of this 70 minute disc. It's not that Owens is a bad singer, either; he is neither annoying to listen to if he uses his regular voice nor does he hit any notes that sound offkey, it's just that whatever he's singing is instantly forgettable.

Musically this album doesn't fare any better than it does vocally. Riffs sound recycled, drawn out, or they are quite simply boring and lack the fury of earlier releases. Where is the Schaffer that wrote riffs like the one for Violate, Angels Holocaust, Last December, or Jekyll & Hyde? Where is the thrashing, the palm muting, the heaviness, the aggression? On most songs it should be sacrificed for melody, but next to aggression there is no melody either: it's all quite, quite, well, boring. A prime example would be "A Charge to Keep." The chorus is unmemorable (the use of a choir hurts more than it helps), the song is slow and plodding, and no lead guitar or melody brings the song up either: by the end you've forgotten and skipped to the next track (assuming you made it to the end.)

Adding to the sea of misery found on the rest of this album is the fact it's actually a concept album based on the history of mankind, in some sort of extraneous, ridiculous science-fiction setting. As if that wasn't enough typical power metal cheese for one year, Schaffer decided to add several useless one-minute interludes that "should help further the story". With the exception of the instrumental Something Wicked Part 2, which has a cool folky tribal atmosphere, the rest is just as annoying as all the 30-second interludes from Schaffer's German comrades Blind Guardian (Nightfall in Middle-Earth, anyone?). Why, Schaffer, why did you not use all the time to create one memorable song for the album, rather than five minutes of extra boredom?

Luckily the album picks up somewhat towards the end. After we've passed the "epic" (read: boring 5 minutes of acoustic pseudo-melodic trite and four minutes of uninspired midtempo riffing) The Clouding, the album finally shifts into high gear. The sole highlights of the album, are the instrumental Something Wicked Part 2 (I mentioned that before), and finally two thrashers by the names of Domino Decree and Framing Armageddon. Sadly they don't close the album on a high note as the need is felt to draw out the album to 70 minutes with yet another uninspired, tepid song about the rise of Set Abominae, and a bonus ***ty outro with some Gregorian chanting.

Forget that this is a concept album. Forget that this is the once mighty Jon Schaffer who released this album. Forget that this is Iced Earth, a band with one of the most solid legacies in heavy metal. This album is an example pur sang of concept album bloat syndrome, and the worst bit is there is going to be a part two. Here's hoping that will be a lot more interesting, captivating, and inspires a motivation of man to listen to it. This one doesn't.



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user ratings (299)
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other reviews of this album
Jake Cole (2)
Iced Earth releases the most banal, uninspired album of their career. Not even Tim Owens' incredible...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Altmer
September 11th 2007


5652 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I had high hopes for this, but uh....

Iai
Emeritus
September 11th 2007


3553 Comments


Guess I'll stay away from this, then. Iced Earth were one of the best metal bands of the '90s for stand-alone songs, but I never dug a full album by them, and everything I've heard by them that doesn't feature Barlow has been icky.

NightHunteR
September 11th 2007


52 Comments


Forgot this was out already.. Quite convincing review, u just killed all of my hopes for this. Though i'm gonna check it out anyway

Altmer
September 11th 2007


5652 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

If you're a fan you can pick this up, you'll probably dig something in it somewhere (I know I like a couple of riffs.) I'm a big enough IE fan to get around to playing this more than once.

Anyone else should just stay away.

TheStarclassicTreatment
September 11th 2007


2910 Comments


I don;t see what people think is so great about Matt Barlow really.

Altmer
September 11th 2007


5652 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

he has a wide range and can put a lot of emotion into his voice without sounding cheesy. plus he can convey aggression on top of it

Confessed2005
September 11th 2007


3314 Comments


Matt Barlow was really awesome. Burnt Offerings is one of my fave power metal albums. Even though you gave this a negative rating, I still make check it out, being quite an avid fan of the band. Hopefully be seeing them with Heaven and Hell and Lamb of God in a couple of months.

wojodta
September 11th 2007


57 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Barlow is definitely better than Owens. Burnt Offerings is one of my faves too. I'm actually digging this album so far though.This Message Edited On 09.11.07

Shattered_Future
September 11th 2007


1541 Comments


When I heard the single and the severe lack of galloping in it, I knew something was wrong.

Altmer
September 11th 2007


5652 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Yeah I couldn't spot a single gallop in the entire album. ._.

Mikesn
Emeritus
September 11th 2007


3709 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Album rules.

I'm not really a fan of Barlow. He can definitely sing and he fit the band's sound rather well, but something about his voice irks me.

Altmer
September 11th 2007


5652 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I like Barlow more than Ripper, but Ripper is sure a great vocalist.

Willie
Moderator
September 11th 2007


16149 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I haven't really liked any album of their's other then Burnt Offerings... to me they all sound similar.

Digging: Mors Principium Est - Dawn Of The 5th Era

Zoo
September 11th 2007


3759 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Is this really that bad? I'll probably check it out anyway.

Altmer
September 12th 2007


5652 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

This is that bad imo.

Pebster49
September 12th 2007


2993 Comments


Out of all the power Metal bands out there, these guys are probably the only ones that I might get into, but still Horror Show wasn't that great, ill probably listen to it to give it a try

Yazz_Flute
September 12th 2007


18875 Comments


I was just lookingg into more ICed Earth on itunes, when an Opeth shirt I ordered a few weeks ago came in. It came with a mini cd with the song "Setian Massacre," and a type O negative asong, and an engel song. Setian Massacre sounded pretty cool methinks.

Digging: DIR EN GREY - Arche

chdahi
September 14th 2007


22 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I always thought it was going to be hard for Jon Schaffer to top the Gettysburg trilogy, but I thought he would at least come a little closer to it with this. It's not a horrible album, but it definitely seems to me to be mediocre at best. There is definitely a lack of true guitar solos (even less than normal) and the ones that are there are so-so. I really like The Clouding and the transition from Reflections into Ten Thousand Strong is great. Hopefully the rest grows on me.

Altmer
September 14th 2007


5652 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Who negged this, yo?

Thor
September 14th 2007


10202 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Barlow's absence will always affect the band, but I'm still gonna give this album a chance. I love Iced Earth too much not to at least hear it.

Digging: Black Crown Initiate - The Wreckage of Stars



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