Iced Earth - Something Wicked This Way Comes


Year of Release: 1998
Label: Century Media
Catalog Number: 7914-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 61:47:00

While this isn't Iced Earth's most recent release - that's Alive in Athens - Something Wicked This Way Comes is the most recent studio release. My curiosity was piqued by an ad in an issue of Progression and talk on the Perpetual Motion board. I downloaded an MP3 of the "Burning Times" (which is the lead off track here). But, by the time I'd given it more than a cursory listening, I had bought the album. I don't know what past Iced Earth albums sound like, so I've only this to go by.

I hear an Iron Maiden and Metallica influence too, though, to me, the latter is stronger. Vocalist Mathew Barlow can be growlier than James Hetfield, but it doesn't detract from the music at all; rather, it gives it the necessary character (no pun intended). Don't let that fool you, because Barlow has range, as he hits those high notes on "Consequences." And on "Reaping Stone" (at least), he sounds a bit like Geoff Tate (Queensryche).

Based on the first track, and on "Disciples Of The Lie," I wasn't sure if I was going to like this album - the remaining tracks have sold me, however.

While the album's title might suggest a concept album based on the Ray Bradbury novel of the same name, the cover art alone tells you it's not. The only similarity is in titles - and though I haven't researched it [why ever not? - sarcastic ed.], maybe Bradbury was referencing something. The Bible perhaps? So many do.

Anyway, this album's "Something" comprises the final three tracks of the album. The tale itself doesn't seem all that original - the story itself is probably based on a number of sources, too many to detail here. Suffice it to say, the story is extremely symbolic, and can be read as both metaphor or straight fiction. The whole epic conceit is that evil is embodied by an external entity walking among us, and its presence portends horrible things, "wicked" things.Musically, it's a diverse combination of Queensryche (classic), Metallica, and Iron Maiden (and others).

This album sounds great - crisp, clean, dynamic. "My Own Savior" is a curiosity, as it seems to suggest suicide as a viable option. Perhaps it is for one so consumed by hate as the character of the track is, when one considers the other options - institutionalized, where the level of care can be negligible; jail, where the level of care may be zilch; or out on the streets, a threat. Oh, I suppose an even deep examination of this track might reveal more facets, more subtext, but I'll leave it at this here.

There are numerous other tracks that bear mentioning, even if in passing. "Consequences" for one, with its direct and insightful commentary on the human condition and our current state of affairs. Yes, the lyrics make broad statements that border on cliche, but that we have to keep pointing it out to ourselves means we still don't get it. "As human beings, we're a complex thing/ Sometimes so beautiful, other times so vain..."

The other thing I want to mention specifically is "Watching Over Me," which is a warm sentiment I wouldn't have necessarily expected from a band I originally perceived as being cold and hard (must be the "iced" thing, eh?). Written in memory of a friend who died, in it's simplicity (i.e., directness, honesty) it speaks to anyone of us who have been in a similar situation.

But, all this talk of lyrics, what about the music? This chugs and crunches, punctuating its points with powerful percussion. There's enough variety that it's never boring, and they explore numerous textures - which is to say that it isn't a continuous bludgeoning, there are respites. Obviously, of course, I've focused more on the lyrics here than the music, which says something - the music enhances and supports the lyrics, the playing is skillful enough to not draw negative attention to itself, and the vocals have the right balance between demonic growling and angelic soaring ... okay, maybe angelic is a bit hyperbolic.

Because I'm not familiar with their back catalog, I can't tell you whether this is the best of the bunch or the worst; though if it is the latter, it's pretty damn good. Recommended.


Tracklisting:
Burning Times (3:43) / Melancholy (Holy Martyr) (4:47) / Disciples Of The Lie (4:03) / Watching Over Me (4:28) / Stand Alone (2:44) / Consequences (5:36) / My Own Savior (3:39) / Reaping Stone (4:02) / 1776 (3:33) / Blessed Are You (5:05) / Something Wicked Trilogy: Prophecy (6:18) / Birth of the Wicked (4:16) / The Coming Curse (9:33)

Musicians:
Jon Schaffer - guitars and backing vocals
Mathew Barlow - lead vocals
James MacDonough - bass
Larry Tarnowski - guitar solos
Mark 'The Creeper' Prator - drums
Susan McQuinn - flute (9)
Howard Helm - piano (13)
Tracy Marie LaBarbera - backing vocals (2, 4, 7)
Jim Morris - keyboards, guitar solo (4), and backing vocals
Roger Hughes - mandolin (10)

Discography:
Iced Earth (1991)
Night Of The Stormrider (1992)
Burnt Offerings (1995)
The Dark Saga (1996)
Days Of Purgatory (1997/2003)
Something Wicked This Way Comes (1998)
Alive In Athens (1999)
Horror Show (2001)
Tribute To The Gods (2002)
Glorious Burden (2004)
The Blessed And The Damned (2004)
Overture Of The Wicked (2007)
Framing Armageddon (Something Wicked Part 1) (2007)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin US

Added: November 1st 1999
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Score:
Artist website: www.icedearth.com
Hits: 966
Language: english

  

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