Iced Earth

Iced Earth 1999

Iced Earth were originally formed as Purgatory by guitarist Jon Schaffer in 1984, the band spent five years paying their dues in the clubs. Their 1988 "Enter the Realm" demo was an underground favorite, and after changing their name to Iced Earth, the band recorded their first cd. Their sound is a combination of 80's thrash with the classic metal approach of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest.

After 1991's "Night of the Stormrider,"Schaffer decided to call it quits due to any lack of recognition, much of which had to do with poor marketing. However, Iced Earth would re-emerge three years later with 1995's "Burnt Offerings," released on Century Media Records and featuring extraordinary vocalist Matthew Barlow. Barlow is to Iced Earth what Bruce Dickinson was to Iron Maiden, defining and refining their sound to perfection.

I didn't discover this band until after "Days of Purgatory" was released in 1998. Shortly afterwards "Something Wicked This Way Comes" was released which, in my opinion, is a phenomenal true metal disc. While the music is reminiscent of many different classic metal bands, they still somehow sound fresh. Fashion trends may come and go, but Iced Earth have remained committed to flying the heavy metal banner through through thick and thin. After years of laboring in obscurity and undergoing countless line-up changes they have emerged as one of the greatest hopes for classic metal in America.

Jon Schaffer, along with Blind Guardian vocalist Hansi Kursch, released a cd under the title of Demon & Wizards as well.

Enter the Realm Iced Earth-Enter the Realm (bootleg) 1988

1. "Enter the Realm" -instrumental (:54)
2. "Colors" (5:03)
3. "Nightmares" (3:38)
4. "To Curse the Sky" (4:41)
5. "Solitude" -instrumental (1:43)
6. "Iced Earth" (5:28)

HA! Now this was the deal of the century. All those who trade on the PM Board missed out. Ralf Walter offered this VERY HIGH QUALITY bootleg of the original Iced Earth demo/EP. Everything is included right down to the full-color glossy cover with the original demo artwork and all the original liner notes, lyrics, thank you lists, and song credits. I mean, if I did not know this was a bootleg, I would have swore it was a Century Media release. Even the cd itself is printed like any other Iced Earth cd. The sound quality is spectacular as well. Anyhow, as I was saying, Ralf was offering these for trade one time only on the PM Board and apparently no one bit (except me). Well they missed out because the one other copy of this that made it onto eBay sold for $30. Thanks again for the trade Ralf and for helping to round out my Iced Earth collection.

Iced Earth Iced Earth Iced Earth-Iced Earth (Century Media) 1991

1. "Iced Earth" (5:22)
2. "Written on the Walls" (6:03)
3. "Colors" (4:49)
4. "To Curse the Sky" (4:39)
5. "Life and Death" (6:04)
6. "Solitude" -instrumental (1:43)
7. "Funeral" (6:14)
8. "When the Night Falls" (8:59)

Not a bad album, but compared to the rest of Iced Earth's catalogue, this one falls by the way side. By the next album these guys were just outstanding. This is not to say that this album sucks by any means. The songs "Iced Earth" and "Colors" were still being played by the band live as of 1999. The rest of the material is good as well. Perhaps for me it's just that I had heard this disc after hearing incredible discs like "Stormrider" and "Dark Saga" The cover above is the re-issue cover. The original cover is much cooler, but is harder to find.

I wrote the review above a few years ago and I am still not sure what the story is on the two different covers. I have read that the cover with the falling angel is the reissue cover and that the other is the "extremely rare original." I have also read more recently that the "rare" cover is not really that rare, but is just the European version. Well which ever it is, I now have both. Personally, I like the European cover better.

Also, after living with this disc for a few years now, I have changed my opinon of this disc and can honestly say that I like it as much as the next two. Looking back over the last few months alone, this disc has had more play time in my cd player than both "Stormrider" and "Burnt Offerings" together.

Night of the Stormrider Iced Earth-Night of the Stormrider (Century Media) 1992

1. "Angels Holocaust" (4:52)
2. "Stormrider" (4:47)

3. "Path I Choose" (5:52)
4. "Before the Vision" (1:35)
5. "Mystical End" (4:44)
6. "Desert Rain" (6:56)
7. "Pure Evil" (6:33)
8. "Reaching the End" (1:11)
9. "Travel in Stygian" (9:31)

True metal excellence! "Travel in Stygian" is an inspired power metal song, and one of my all time favorites. Not sure which I like better, the original version or the version with Matthew Barlow on vocals on 'Days of Purgatory.' Great follow-up to the self titled album and one of the finest power metal albums ever released. Bought this copy on the right for $8 on Century Media's web site. The other is the original cover release that a good friend found for me in Germany.

Burnt Offerings Iced Earth-Burnt Offerings (Century Media) 1995

1."Burnt Offerings" (7:22)
2."Last December" (3:24)
3."Diary" (6:03)
4."Brainwashed" (5:22)
5."Burning Oasis" (5:59)
6."Creator Failure" (6:02)
7."The Pierced Spirit" (1:54)
8."Dante's Inferno" (16:29)
...I. Denial, Lust, Greed
...II. The Prodigal, The Wrathful, Medusa
...III. The False Witness, Angel of Light

The first album to feature the incredible Matthew Barlow and one of the best power metal discs to ever grace my cd player. "Burnt Offering" is a metal classic in every aspect. Long live metal!.

Dark Saga Iced Earth-Dark Saga (Century Media) 1996

1. "Dark Saga" (3:43)
2. "I Died for You" (3:48)
3. "Violate" (3:38)
4. "The Hunter" (3:55)
5. "Last Laugh" (3:46)
6. "Depths of Hell" (3:01)
7. "Vengeance Is Mine" (4:22)
8. "Suffering Scarred" (5:54)
9. "Slave to the Dark" (4:03)
10. "Question of Heaven" (7:40)

The Dark Saga is a concept album based on the Todd MacFarlane comic series Spawn. (Todd MacFarlane also does the Kiss Psycho Circus comic series) Though the album is a bit more laid back than past albums, Jon Schaffer's songwriting is phenomenal! The first two tracks are slow to mid paced, but still excellent. Itís not until track three, "Violate" that the band kicks in the furious double bass assault. This song almost sound like Testament to me. The interplay between the two guitarists, Schaffer and Randall Sawver is most impressive especially on the dual harmonies of "The Hunter." The production is outstanding, the album being recorded at Florida's metal factory Morrisound Studios. Of course Matthew Barlow's impressive pipes bring it all together. If I had to pick a favorite, this would probably be at the top of my list struggling for first place with "Something Wicked."

Days of Purgatory Iced Earth-Days of Purgatory (Century Media) 1997

1. "Enter the Realm" -instumental (:55)
2. "Colors" (5:04)
3. "Angels Holocaust" (5:46)
4. "Stormrider" (3:56)
5. "Winter Nights" (3:55)
6. "Nightmares" (3:38)
7. "Before the Vision" (1:24)
8. "Pure Evil" (6:18)
9. "Solitude" -instrumental (1:45)
10. "The Funeral"-instrumental (6:16)
11. "When the Night Falls" (7:50)
12. "Burnt Offerings" (7:24)
13. "Cast in Stone" (6:00)
14. "Desert Rain" (6:38)
15. "Brainwashed" (5:23)
16. "Life & Death" (6:07)
17. "Creator Failure" (6:05)
18. "Reaching the End" (1:10)
19. "Travel in Stygian" (9:28)
20. "Dante's Inferno" (16:20)
21. "Iced Earth" (5:30)

One thing that Iced Earth's early material lacks is the strong voice of Matthew Barlow, so they re-recorded much of their older material with his vocals. The sound quality is slightly superior to the old material as is the musicianship. All the aspects of the band that make them so impressive to me are present on this disc: energetic staccato riffing, dual guitar harmonies, melodic acoustic passages, complex arrangements, loads of double bass and superior vocals. My favorite track "Travel in Stygian" is a nine-minute epic tune that shows Iced Earth at their creative best. Have wanted the double disc, import version of this disc forever. Special thanks to the German Metal Giant for hooking me up with a mint used copy.

Melancholy EP Iced Earth-The Melancholy E.P. (Century Media) 1998

1. "Melancholy (Holy Martyr)" (4:46)
2. "Shooting Star" (5:15)
3. "Watching Over Me" (4:28)
4. "Electric Funeral" (4:53)
5. "I Died for You" (3:49)
6. "The Ripper" (2:43)
7. "Colors" -live (5:13)

I found out a bit late that Iced Earth had released a limited edition EP called "The Melancholy EP."  I went direct to the source, Century Media, and ordered a copy for $5 as it was still available according to their web site. I was bummed when I got an email message back that they had sold out. Checking eBay, I found out that the stinking thing was already selling for $50. That is a bit to rich for my blood, especially since it only contains five songs, only two of which are exclusince to this disc. Well, patience payed off because in the winter of 2001, Century Media released a European version of "The Melancholy E.P." with two extra tracks not on the American version.  "The Ripper" is a Judas Priest cover taken from the "Judas Priest-Legends of Metal" tribute. "Colors" is an unreleased live track from the "Alive in Athens" sessions. The two exclusive tracks from the US release are cover versions of Bad Company's "Shooting Star" and Black Sabbath's "Electric Funeral."

Something Wicked This Way Comes Iced Earth-Something Wicked This Way Comes (Century Media) 1998

1. "Burning Times" (3:44)
2. "Melancholy (Holy Martyr)" (4:47)
3. "Disciples of the Lie" (4:04)
4. "Watching over Me" (4:29)
5. "Stand Alone" (2:44)
6. "Consequences" (5:37)
7. "My Own Savior" (3:40)
8. "Reaping Stone" (4:02)
9. "1776" -instrumental (3:33)
10. "Blessed Are You" (5:06)
11. "Prophecy" (6:19)
12. "Birth of the Wicked" (4:16)
13. "Coming Curse" (9:34)
Iced Earth 1998 tour

A great follow up to the inspired "Dark Saga." Of course with each new Iced Earth album, comes a new line-up, but as long as the team of Barlow & Schaffer remains intact, Iced Earth's sound remains intact. While"1776" is an instrumental that sounds very Iron Maiden-ish, "Disciples of the Lie," "Burning Times," "Stand Alone," and "My Own Savior" are of the power metal / thrash combination that the band has become known for. Mixed together with the clean production, once again attained at Morrisound, "Something Wicked" is one of Iced Earth's finest. I saw Iced Earth on this tour with Nevermore and Destiny's End opening. It was once of the best shows I had seen in a long time. I woke up with a neck ache the next morning. Angel Rot closed the show. I didn't stick around for them, nor did anyone else.

Alive in Athens Iced Earth-Alive in Athens (Century Media) 1999

Alive in Athens Disc 1 Alive in Athens disc 2

Alive in Athens disc 3

1. "Burning Times" (4:06)
2. "Vengence Is Mine" (4:53)
3. "Pure Evil" (6:25)
4. "My Own Savior" (3:44)
5. "Melancholy (Holy Martyr)" (4:54)
6. "Dante's Inferno" (6:23)
7. "The Hunter" (4:17)
8. "Travel in Stygian" (8:54)
9. "Slave to the Dark" (3:50)
10. "Question of Heaven" (8:17)
11. "Angels Holocaust" (4:35)
12. "Dark Saga" (4:01)
13. "Last Laugh" (4:38)
14. "Last December" (3:43)
15. "Watching over Me" (4:47)
16. "Stormrider" (4:45)
17. "Path I Choose" (5:44)
18. "I Died for You" (4:44)
19. "Prophecy" (6:10)
20. "Birth of the Wicked" (5:42)
21. "Coming Curse" (8:55)
22. "Iced Earth' (6:58)

23. "Stand Alone" (3:31)
24. "Cast in Stone" (6:03)
25. "Desert Rain" (7:20)
26. "Brainwashed" (5:13)
27. "Disciples of the Lie" (4:12)
28. "When the Night Falls" (7:48)
29. "Diary" (5:52)
30. Blessed Are You" (5:46)
31. "Violate" (3:54)

"Alive in Athens" is three CDs of live metal recorded over two nights on the supporting tour for "Something Wicked this Way Comes." This is a great live package. Each disc is packaged in it's own individual digi-pack, each with a different cover and packed with live pics. The American version, of course, only has two discs, so I had to pay the $25 to get this import version. It was well worth is to hear these great songs; all pulled off with perfection on the stage. Certainly not a cheap live album, this band gives the fans their moneys worth.

Horror Show Iced Earth-Horror Show (Century Media) 2001

1. "Wolf" (5:19)
2. "Damien" (9:11)
3. "Jack" (4:14)
4. "Ghost of Freedom" (5:11)
5. "Im-Ho-Tep (Pharaoh's Curse)" (4:45)
6. "Jeckyl & Hyde" (4:39)
7. "Dragon's Child" (4:19)
8. "Frankenstein" (3:50)
9. "Dracula" (5:53)
10. "The Phantom Opera Ghost" (8:41)

1. "Transylvania" -instrumental (4:23)
2. "Jon Shaeffer Interview" (69:27)

Iced Earth 2001

Horror Show is a concept album based on many infamous monsters. Drawing from legend, literature and film, each song off "Horror Show" tells the story of creatures like Frankenstein, the Mummy, Dracula, the Wolfman, the Phantom of the Opera, Jekyll and Hyde, Jack the Ripper, Damien (The Omen) and the Creature from the Black Lagoon. An excellent cover of Iron Maiden's "Transylvania" was recorded as well, and is included on the limited edition first pressing of the album on a bonus disc that also contains an exclusive interview with Jon Schaffer! Musically, this disc continues in a similar style as the last two discs, but with more symphonic elements, bringing in the Blind Guardian influences. Also new to this disc is the addition of some female vocals to some of the epic songs, including my favorite song of the disc, "The Phantom Opera Ghost." I must add that unlike the last two studio discs, which just clubbed me over the head and had me hooked, this one took a few more listens to get into. After listening a couple of times however, I can honestly say that this is an awesome true metal disc.

Iced Earth-Dark Genesis (Century Media) 2001

Disc 1-Enter the Realm (see track listing above)
Disc 2-Iced Earth (see track listing above)
Disc 3-Night Of The Stormrider (see track listing above)
Disc 4-Burnt Offerings (see track listing above)
Disc 5-Tribute to the Gods

1. "Creatures Of The Night" (4:01)
2. "Number Of The Beast" (4:33)
3. "Highway To Hell" (3:24)
4. "Burnin' For You" (4:26)
5. "God Of Thunder" (3:57)
6. "Screaming For Vengeance" (4:38)
7. "Dead Babies" (5:40)
8. "Cities On Flame" (4:00)
9. "It's A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock n' Roll)" (4:42)
10. "Black Sabbath" (5:31)
11. "Hallowed Be Thy Name" (7:08)

As has been the case with the past few Iced Earth releases, the band knows how to make a nice package. This five disc box set is no exception. There is a 30 page full color book complete with lyrics, bio, commentaries, photos, and new artwork for all five albums. Disc one, which has never before been officially released on cd has been remastered and sounds a bit different from the bootleg copy I have had for a few years. Discs 2 through 4 are remastered versions of the band's first three cds. "Tribute To The Gods" is disc number five from the box set and features covers from their most inspirational bands: 1. KISS - Creatures Of The Night; 2. IRON MAIDEN - Number Of The Beast; 3. AC/DC - Highway To Hell; 4. BLUE OYSTER CULT - Burnin' For You; 5. KISS - God Of Thunder; 6. JUDAS PRIEST - Screaming For Vengeance; 7. ALICE COOPER - Dead Babies; 8. BLUE OYSTER CULT - Cities On Flame; 9. AC/DC - It's A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock n' Roll); 10. BLACK SABBATH - Black Sabbath; 11. IRON MAIDEN - Hallowed Be Thy Name. Of course what can be said of one of my all time favorite bands covering songs by many other favorites of mine? After all they cover two KISS songs, two AC/DC songs and two Iron Maiden tracks. What more could I ask for?

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