Iced Earth is an American power metal band hailing from the state of Florida. Formed by guitarist Jon Schaffer in Indiana under the name Purgatory, soon relocated the Florida and released their first demo, Enter the Realm inn 1989. Soon after, the released their debut self-titled album, and the rest, as they say, is history. The band recorded and released their sixth studio album, Horror Show
Like the five albums that came before, Horror Show continued to employ the band's interesting brand of power metal. Iced Earth's style consists of a clear Iron Maiden influence, fused with thrash influences and obviously, power metal. The band pulls off this style very well, with impressive results. Heavy, dark riffs courtesy of the excellent riff-master Jon Schaffer can be found all over Horror Show. Horror Show contains many powerful riff based songs, such as the superb Jekyll and Hyde
, each easily rank among the band's best songs. Notably in The Phantom Opera Ghost
, the band employs the galloping riff technique that the band has mastered over their career, getting excellent results. Also present on the album are excellent acoustic/clean guitar sections. In songs such as Dracula
, Ghost of Freedom
, and The Phantom Opera Ghost
, the band switches between heavy and clean passages. The frequent change brings about an excellent atmosphere; and atmosphere mired in sadness (clean) and anger (heavy). The best example of this is the already mentioned Dracula, where the protagonist laments over his losses, before getting revenge later on in the song.
Iced Earth has released a few concept albums, those being Night of the Storm Rider and The Dark Saga. Horror Show is another album with the songs containing the same themes. Each of the songs, save for the patriotic ballad Ghost of Freedom
and the cover of the Iron Maiden song Transylvania
, cover a different horror story (as you may have already guessed). Because of this some of the song's lyrics are insanely cheesy, such as The Omen inspired Damien
. But aside from the cheese factor, Iced Earth does a pretty good job covering the stories. The band bases their songs off of stories such as Frankenstein, Count Dracula, Dr Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, or Jack the Ripper.
A big part of Iced Earth's sound is vocalist Matt Barlow. Though he quit the band after the September 11 attacks on the United States, Barlow has a powerful voice. Matt's voice is much deeper than your typical power metal vocalist, but he can also hit those high notes, as evident in many of the songs. To be honest I found his vocals slightly annoying in The Dark Saga album, but in Horror Show they are slightly more enjoyable to listen to. Barlow has an excellent vocal range and makes excellent use of it throughout the album. I like his vocals in Ghost of Freedom
, specifically the layered vocals in the final choruses. When done properly, Matt adds a lot to a song, and goes a long way in making the album a lot more enjoyable. However his spoken parts are fairly terrible (see Damien
). They sound ridiculously silly and upon listening to it, I wanted to gouge my ears out. But aside from that one occurrence, Barlow is great on Horror Show, and ends his career as a singer on a high note.
Horror Show marked an end of an era for Iced Earth. Vocalist Mat Barlow left the band because he wanted to help out the community after the events of 9/11. His replacement was Tim "Ripper" Owens for Judas Priest fame. Mat Barlow, as well as the rest of the band, has an excellent showing on Horror Show. The album is void of filler material, and Iced Earth impresses constantly with tasteful riffs and excellent performances. The album is among the band's best releases. Let the show begin…
The Phantom Opera Ghost