Iced Earth is often overlooked as a metal band -- from its formation in 1984 to now, it has gone through many transformations in its lineup and in its style. Rooted in Tampa, Florida, the center for American death metal in the 80's with bands like Obituary and Death, Purgatory put out many demos, such as 'Psychotic Dreams', 'Horror Show' and others, and finally an EP entitled 'Enter the Realm.' Carefully honing their eerie aesthetic through these years, Iced Earth finally puts out an album. This is their full-length eponymous debut, 'Iced Earth.' Jon Schaffer's lightning fast guitars, Randall Shawver's composition skill, and Mike McGill's complex drum style makes for a solid first album.
The main off-putter about this LP is the vocals; Gene Adam's squeals aren't always the most easy to listen to, but add to the uneasiness. Getting acquainted with such vocals is a key factor to enjoying this album. Seeing past them will open you up to the exquisite musicality of the rest of the band. Beginning with the title track, "Iced Earth" dives into the speed and ferocity of the band, with a very fast part nearer to the end to showcase the skill of the guitarists.
Track 3, "Colors", decreases the quality of this album strongly, not because of the musical content -- rather, it displays Iced Earth's tendency to have their influences painfully present. Reading the lyrics, one will notice that there are strong parallels between this track and "Killers" by Iron Maiden. In fact, Iced Earth's similarities to Iron Maiden are visible just by comparing their discographies side-by-side. Looking forward, Iced Earth redeems itself by maintaining its originality for the duration of this LP; "Life and Death" shows the vocal skill of Gene Adam to actually SING, rather than growling/ squealing; this song tells the simple, dark story of life: "I came into this world a screaming infant, forced entry into this life; as I grow the pain sustains deep inside my soul, visions come and visions go, but hate will never leave me."
The two instrumentals on this album, "Solitude" and "The Funeral" are rather despondent, I will usually skip them for that reason. The last track, however, "When the Night Falls", can easily be called one of Iced Earth's best songs, with many melodies it keeps my attention for the 8 minute duration. Melodic and aggressive, 'Iced Earth' was launched into obscurity sometime after its release. It is often demerited for its vocals, but I honestly think, it deserves much more credit than that. Not satisfied" -- Don't worry, most of their albums proceeding this one are very different from it, burning through 4 other singers, many other bassists, and countless drummers. All in all, 'Iced Earth' will "Fill you with great desire." 3.5/5