Iced Earth
The Dark Saga


3.0
good

Review

by Mike Stagno EMERITUS
August 7th, 2006 | 30 replies


Release Date: 1996 | Tracklist


In 1996, American power metal band Iced Earth was ready to enter the studio, coming off the release of what was possibly their best album to date, Burnt Offerings. They came out of the studio with their fourth full length album, The Dark Saga. The album is a concept album based off of Todd MacFarlane's comic book series, Spawn. The Dark Saga is Iced Earth's second concept album, the first being Night of the Stormrider.

As I just mentioned, The Dark Saga is a concept album. The concept tells the story of a man who sells his soul to return to the woman he loves, who, unknown to him, has married his friend. He is left alone in the world, and his actions are influenced by dark thoughts. Yeah, not the most original story, and definitely not the best you’ll ever hear, but Iced Earth makes the most of what they have. Just as they are in past albums, the lyrics are dark and emotional in The Dark Saga. I can't really say I'm a fan of the lyrics in a lot of the songs, but Schaffer did a good job putting them together. Matt Barlow's deeper vocal style also helps the songs sound much more emotional, especially the quieter, more sullen moments such as the intro to the second song, I Died For You. But luckily there's more to The Dark Saga then lyrics.

With The Dark Saga, Iced Earth takes a different path than they did on past albums. The music here is a more mid-paced and more laid-back effort than on previous albums. The Dark Saga's material is also a lot shorter than in the past, with all but two songs being shorter than five minutes and only one track breaching the seven minute mark, that being the album's closer, A Question of Heaven. While this is slightly disappointing, coming from the same band that wrote the 16 minute epic, Dante's Inferno, Burnt Offerings, and Travel in Stygian, the simpler songs found on The Dark Saga are likely better off at four minutes than eight. As the themes found on The Dark Saga are dark (obviously) and sad, the music is more melancholic. Riffs still heavy, but they contain a sullen feel to them. This is a very good effect that song writer Jon Schaffer used to symbolize the suffering that our protagonist goes through. However, the entire album isn’t all melancholic. The album also contains angrier songs such as Violate, The Hunter, Vengeance is Mine, and Last Laugh. These songs feature vicious riffs and harmonies, as well as violent leads that well represent the tension dominating the middle of The Dark Saga.

However, one thing The Dark Saga lacks is intensity. The album features a few energetic tracks, but more or less, the feel is not all there. It's as if the band was playing in their sleep. The phenomenal energy that Iced Earth displays on songs like Burnt Offerings or later songs such as The Devil To Pay, Jack, or The Phantom of the Opera Ghost is nowhere to be found. Maybe it's just me, but I feel Iced Earth has a lot more to offer than what they show here. Another problem with the album is that many songs start sounding the same. While the production helps improve the melancholic atmosphere that much of the album stresses, it also makes the music start to sound very similar. The band's long, quiet intros don't help their case either, as they are not that well done and listeners may get disinterested fairly quickly. The second track, I Died For You, unfortunately falls victim to this.

Overall, The Dark Saga is a great album. Some of the songs are superb, and very enjoyable, while some of the other songs are fairly boring and skippable. Iced Earth is not as consistent with this release as albums such as Horror Show or The Glorious Burden. When the band shines, they're one of the better metal bands, but The Dark Saga is not the best example of the band's skill. Still, it's a good album and if you've got money to spend as well as the other, more essential Iced Earth albums, I would definitely recommend picking up The Dark Saga.

Recommended Tracks:
The Hunter
Dark Saga
Violate
Slave to Dark



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Mikesn
Emeritus
August 7th 2006


3709 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Maybe this will get a few more comments than my Horror Show review. This Message Edited On 08.07.06

Intransit
August 7th 2006


2797 Comments


second review of the day, nice work. Again, Ive gotta check this band out.

FatalEnergy
August 8th 2006


40 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I cannot stand this album. Easily the worst thing they've ever done. Boring as hell.

Mikesn
Emeritus
August 8th 2006


3709 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I've only heard 3 other Iced Earth album's, but out of those, I'd agree that The Dark Saga is easily the weakest.

Thor
August 19th 2006


10202 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

One of Iced Earth's weaker albums, and easily their most overrated.This Message Edited On 08.19.06

Digging: Black Crown Initiate - The Wreckage of Stars

Wish
August 25th 2006


262 Comments


The first four tracks on this album are incredible, then it seems that the quality drops but it is redeemed with the last two songs. A Question of Heaven is easily the best song on this ablum.

Jotun35
August 7th 2009


57 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Wow ! Why some much hate ? :°)

I think this album is very important in Iced Earth history, because they have found their sound on this record. There is typical Iced Earth riffs here, the same kind of riffs that we can hear on "Something Wicked..." or "Horror Show". On top of that, Spawn is the only american comic that I like. ;)

Troopsofdoom
December 7th 2012


23 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

People love to bash Iced Earth.

NoMeansYes
December 7th 2012


1012 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Fuck 'em, Iced Earth were excellent and especially Burnt Offerings and this one are Thrash-tinged power classics.

Troopsofdoom
December 7th 2012


23 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

im enjoying this as we speak

warlordfun
February 8th 2013


402 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

am i the only one who consider this album to be a masterpiece?

Titan
March 21st 2013


5882 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

A Question Of Heaven is incredible

BlackLlama
March 21st 2013


1706 Comments


When this first came out it was an easy 4.5. Though 'SWTWC' was better for me. After the years have gone by I put this at a solid 3 personally.

Titan
March 21st 2013


5882 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

funny.....something wicked had the same effect on me

manosg
May 14th 2013


6732 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Awesome album, the review doesn't do much justice. Might be my favorite from them at the moment.

Digging: Whitesnake - Slide It In

Eunuch
May 14th 2013


1285 Comments


Why would you review Iced Earth's practically worst album. Dystopia is even better than this.

Titan
May 14th 2013


5882 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

'Why would you review Iced Earth's practically worst album. Dystopia is even better than this.'

moron

DrHouseSchuldiner
May 14th 2013


5643 Comments


Troll obv

Eunuch
May 14th 2013


1285 Comments


good insult. Thanks for that. Glad to know my opinions give you that much of a reaction. Dystopia>
doesn't bother me if you think I am a troll.

Titan
May 14th 2013


5882 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Eunuch
December 15th 2011



294 Comments

Report this Post

This is the album that is almost so bad it is good. It's just catchy and fun but you can tell that Iced Earth is way passed their prime. Guilty pleasure for sure.




moron




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