Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Look Back...

Iced Earth
Crucible of Man: Something Wicked Part II

“…I am the weapon that strikes in the hearts of man I thrive, feeding their fear with lies; I will devour I will divide…”-From the Gospel of Iced Earth, Book The Crucible of Man, sec. Divide Devour

With the dawn of a new Iced Earth album coming next week; let’s take a look back at the previous release “The Crucible of Man.” This is something I will be doing regularly with bands about to put out new albums. Anyways, this is the last album to feature the great Matt Barlow on vocals. He replaced Tim Owens after the first part of the Something Wicked saga and basically every fan received the news with great enthusiasm. It’s not that there was anything wrong with Owens, but Barlow IS the voice of Iced Earth.

While Barlow’s presence is delightful to the ears, the music falls flat. The whole Set Abominae thing was enough for one album, but dragging it out for a two albums is overreaching to some extent. I mean, the guy is a cool mascot and he looks badass on the covers he is represented on, but the whole story should have rested with the previous album. The album sounds pretentious from mastermind Jon Schaeffer, but I can look past that because Set is trying to take over the world…or something like that. There are big choruses, orchestral arrangements, and middle-eastern rhythms here. There is some epic stuff going on here. It’s like as if the Russians were taking over eastern Europe or the Civil War was on its last heels. However, it is apparent Set can’t inspire awesome, crushing riffs because there are not much present here and that is sad to say because there are a whooping 15 songs on here. Some are little interludes, but still that is a lot.

It might not sound like there much positives found on here, but alas there are! Barlow for one is wonderful, bringing character to the songs as only Barlow can. The opener “In Sacred Flames” is a cool opener to “set” the tone of the album (see what I did there?) “Crucify the King” actually has some decent riffing to it and is a major part of the story as I recommend this song as well. “Harbinger of Fate” has some arrangements that go back to the original trilogy and hearing the continuity go into the songs is a perk. With what the story is about; there should be much more aggression and thankfully “Divide Devour” provides that. There are finally some driving guitar parts and a sense of serious stuff going down. Overall, the second half the album is much stronger, but that is not really saying much.

The last thing to add is this would make an awesome to learn about in history class or some music class. Imagine learning about the great Set Abominae wreaking havoc on the human race because the of the way his people were wronged by the evil humans. Damn the human race! I feel like a total ass for being human now. Having this kind of revenge story should make for awesome music like when Iced Earth attempted to do the same with Spawn for “The Dark Saga.” Unfortunately, the whole Something Wicked story would make for a better comic book than an album.

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