Helloween, I am ashamed to say, are one of those bands I haven’t paid a…
Ok, I admit it, I’m useless. I hadn’t heard of ICED EARTH, the album or the group. I know, I’m a failure. However, after hearing this album I am going to go through the whole back catalogue and look into the bands history a lot more. Should every rock fan know about this group? Yes, if only to experience this reissue of the first album. But why? Let me explain, this is going to take a while.
The band began with the line-up of Gene Adam (Lead Vocals), Jon Schaffer (Rhythm & Lead Guitars, Backing Vocals), Dave Abell (Bass), Mike McGill (Drums) and Randy Shawver (Lead Guitar) and it all started, I believe, with a five song demo called “Enter the Realm” that was heard by someone at Century Media. This lead to a music deal, which in turn lead to their first, (self named), album – Iced Earth. Iced Earth was a mix of songs from the demo tape and a few more additional songs that were written for the album.
Now we jump 30 years into the future and Iced Earth have issued a remastered version of the album featuring the skills of that great producer Zeuss. Now, if you don’t know who Zeuss is, where the hell have you been for the past 30 years? He’s an engineer / producer who has mastered so many albums for so many ground breaking acts over the years including, (amongst many), Hatebreed, Soulfly, Throwdown, Kataklysm, Shadows Fall and Queensrÿche – and that’s only half the list. So to have him look at what is already a classic album and infuse new life into has got to be good – right?
Now, I wasn’t around to hear the album the first time around, (but if anyone has an LP – not digital version – let me know), so I cannot compare the mix. What I can say is that this version of the album, specifically this mix of the album, is bloody lovely to listen to. Okay, weird to use those words I know, but as someone that likes melody not noise in his music – I like the way this album is put together. Don’t get me wrong, you can feel where they were going with the songs. There’s metal, prog rock and heavy rock influences that all seem to work with each other without any issue. Is that the mix, the instrumentalists, the vocals or the writing? Who knows, but I am mad that I missed this the first time.
My favourite tracks on the album are “Curse the Sky”, “Solitude”, “Iced Earth” and “When the Night Falls”. That’s not to say the rest are mediocre, because that wouldn’t be fair as this is a well balanced album. If I was going to select a single track it would be “When the Night Falls”, as this is a great mix of vocals, different guitar styles and drums. It lasts for 9 minutes – to the second, which also impressed me. It’s the simple things that make music great.
Superb album, superb band – surely it can only get more impressive over time?
A guitar screaming 8/10 for this, but now I’ve got to listen to “Night of The Stormrider” and “Burnt Offerings” before I get some sleep.
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