Review Summary: Jon Schaffer decides to visit the Spawn comic series for inspiration and the results are fantastic.
Jon Schaffer - rhythm guitar, vocals
Randall Shawver - lead guitar
Matt Barlow - lead vocals
Dave Abell - bass guitar
Mark Prator - drums
‘The Dark Saga’ is the fourth album by Iced Earth. It is a concept album based on the Spawn comic book series. It tells the story of a man who sells his soul in order to come back from the dead to reunite with his true. He soon discovers that she has now married his own best friend in the five years since his death. He is left alone in the world, and although he has good inside, he is strongly influenced by the dark forces that are inside him. All of his desires are denied, even his own death. The focus of the album is more on the emotional atmospheric side of the music instead of the technicality of the playing. The heaviness is still there, but is now intertwined with more melodic sections.
Matt Barlow gives another outstanding performance on this album. His vocals are very emotionally charged and fit the musical direction of Iced Earth perfectly. Schaffer and Shawver continue to be an unstoppable duo on guitar. Dave Abell’s bass comes through pretty nicely and Mark Prator is solid on the drums.
I love the songwriting on this album. Schaffer takes a new and unexpected melodic approach on the record that fits perfectly with the story that is being told on the album. Lyrically, the album is probably the band’s best and it also contains the most emotional songs in the entire Iced Earth catalog. The album still has its heavy moments on tracks like “Violate” and “Vengeance is Mine”.
This represented a complete change in direction for Iced Earth at the time. They pretty much ditched their thrash metal sound from the previous two albums and really went all in on their power metal sound. The album’s lyrics are extremely thoughtful as well. The last three tracks that make up the “The Suffering” trilogy at the end also demonstrate Schaffer’s unique composing ability as well.
The production of this album is really good, but at times the drums sound a bit too clunky. The guitars sound great and the bass is audible as well. This is not the band’s best album when it comes to production, but still I do like the sound of the album.
“A Question of Heaven”
"I Died for You"
"Slave to the Dark"
“Vengeance is Mine”
Iced Earth’s fourth album is fantastic. ‘The Dark Saga’ has terrific songwriting and is very consistent throughout its entirety. I love how emotional and thought provoking the lyrics of the album are as well. ‘The Dark Saga’ is Iced Earth’s most emotional album to date.