Review Summary: Great riffs ruined by one of the worst vocal performances in power metal history. Stick with Days of Purgatory.
Enter Iced Earth. This is a world filled with dark fantasy, epic tales, punishment, and misery. This is a band that has refused to ever sell out, and still to this day shows no signs of doing just that. The band combines many different styles of metal, including: thrash, progressive, New Wave of British Heavy Metal, and of course power metal. Every band has to start somewhere, and this is the band's debut record. Enter...
Iced Earth - Iced Earth
Iced Earth was at this time:
John Schaffer - Rhythm Guitar, Backing Vocals
Randy Shawver - Lead Guitar
Gene Adam - Vocals
Dave Abell - Bass Guitar
Mike McGill - Drums
People would argue that a band's first album is their best. Some would say this because the band has all the time in the world to make it perfect, without pressure to speed things up (like some band's sophomore albums have suffered from). Iced Earth does not really live up to this stereotype, as this is clearly not their best album at all. While it is still enjoyable the band's talents have not been fully brought out yet and there are several flaws that Iced Earth will fix on later in the future so that they can constantly make superb albums.
For starters, the band has John Schaffer in it, which automatically makes any group awesome. The man is simply great at writing riffs, solos, acoustic parts, and just songs in general. While there are some parts to this album which I find lacking, John's riffs always please my ears and make me want to keep listening. Randy Shawver's solos also add a whole lot to the feeling of the songs and they make sure that the tracks don't become to repetitive.
The atmosphere of this album is great for those who are fans of power metal, thrash, or possibly even black metal. While some power metal band's lyrics are uplifting and sometimes comical, Iced Earth's have always been darker than that of their power metal peers. Songs like "Colors" are about old gangs in New York, which then is followed by many brutal passages delivered by Gene Adam. There are also some lyrics involving deep hatred like in the song "Life and Death". The album's lyrics are downright scary, not to mention pretty cool.
Metal bands love to do instrumentals to show off their skill, and so does Iced Earth. While most metal bands would only put one instrumental track on an album, these guys decide to put on two. "Solitude" and "The Funeral" are both great and really show off what great musicians Schaffer and Shawver really are. Anyone who plays guitar should probably give these songs a listen.
Modern metal has been known to have some of the greatest drummers alive. The percussionists these days have gotten a front seat in the metal world to exposure and now are known by everyone for being extremely fast and skilled. This, however, was not typically the case back in the 80s and early 90s which includes this album. Mike McGill isn't bad by any means, but he never doesnt anything mindblowing. It would have been nice to hear some more challenging beats from him.
Dave Abell is also another bad factor to this album. He doesn't really bring the band down, but he doesn't do anything recognizable at all. The production turned the bass guitar down way too much to the point where you can't really hear it at all. This always bothers me when this happens because bass can often add a whole lot to a metal band's sound. Abell should have been brought out more.
The Downright Ugly:
Two words: Gene Adam. I can't stand his vocals in the least. He ruins what could be great tracks with his incredibly nasal and whiny scream/shriek. Listen to the song "Iced Earth" and you'll get exactly what I mean. Thankfully one fourth of the album is instrumental which leaves Adam less time to screw things up. After you've heard the band's other vocalists, Tim Owens and the godly Matt Barlow, Adam just seems like a joke. I'm glad he got canned.
Written On The Walls
When The Night Falls
Final Rating: 3/5