Saturday, May 21, 2011

Iced Earth - The Crucible of Man (2008)

In 2008, epic power metal band Iced Earth released their newest album entitled "The Crucible of Man." This completed the magnificent trilogy of the "Something Wicked Saga." "Framing Armageddon" being the second part to the saga, was released in 2007 and "Something Wicked This Way" being the first part which was released back in 1998. Make sure to read up on the lyrics to find out what happens in this epic adventure.

Following the minute and a half intro, the album starts off with blaring distorted guitars and a mix between clean singing and almost "operatic" vocals in track two, entitled "Behold The Wicked Child. Jon Schaffer and Troy Steele show off on the guitars as they chug away with aggressive melodic riffs all throughout. The lyrics in the refrain are powerful and very catchy. This is definitely a great way to start things off.

Songs like "Dimension Gauntlet" and "I Walk Alone" offer some heavier headbanging guitar riffs throughout that are very complex and catchy. Even the lyrics will have you singing along immediately when the refrains enter. Brent Smedley's drum fills are insane, and give so much heaviness to the album. "The Revealing" is another incredible song full of Smedley's brilliantly talented drumming.

It's incredible how the album is so fast and full of energy, yet they still manage to slow things down once in a while like track 5, "A Gift Or A Curse." The song consists of beautiful guitars with the perfect effects on them to give complete emotion to every note. Matt Barlow, their singer at the time, leaves soothing vocals during the beginning verses, and as the song picks up, delivers more aggressive and dominant clean singing. Everything runs together so smoothly you hardly notice the transition between the slowed tempo melodic parts and the lightening fast bursts of distorted guitars and monstrous drums and cymbals.

The album ends with a bang! The song "Come What May" has everything from soft verses with melodic vocals, to pulverizing drums and overwhelming guitars mixed with high pitch singing and extraordinary lyrics. The refrain will be stuck in your head for days with its angelic melodies. The guitar work is absolutely astonishing. This is followed by the final track, "Epilogue," which is a 2 minute and 20 second instrumental that includes orchestral strings, beautiful violins, soft guitars and Congo drums.

Iced Earth continues to impress everyone with there electrifying performance and skill in song writing and story telling. "The Crucible Of Man" stands to be one of their best albums released in years. Unfortunately, Matt Barlow is no longer their lead singer however they have managed to pick up Stu Block to replace him. Block is also the lead vocalist for the Canadian band Into Eternity. I guess we'll see where Schaffer and the guys plan to go from here.


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