About three years removed from their lethal thrash/power metal magnum opus Burnt Offerings, Iced Earth was at an impasse. The direction they went in on 1996's The Dark Saga was to ditch most of the thrash metal and focus on the power metal sound they would soon become known for. The move received mixed reactions, even though The Dark Saga was received decently. On 1998's Something Wicked This Way Comes, they harken back a bit to the older, thrashier days, and to great effect. The three-headed monster that ends the album; "Prophecy", "Born Of The Wicked", and "The Coming Curse" is an obvious highlight, but slower songs like the heartfelt "Watching Over Me" get the job done as well, showcasing that Iced Earth can play all of their styles with professional level skill.
Though Something Wicked This Way Comes seldom exceeds beyond the great mark it never slumps in its entire runtime. Even more impressive is how the album remains interesting despite similarly styled and structured tracks lasting over an hour without dragging out. A few of the slower moments (which aren't very prominent) don't hold up so well (Barlow's vocals being a reason behind this), but when they do it's a real pleasure. Interestingly, the strongest tracks to my ears were the shortest and longest tracks. Regardless, this is a consistently great, if not excellent album that demonstrates a less conventional power metal style that simply doesn't lose its grip.