Posts Tagged ‘Iced Earth’

I’m back from a quick vacation! I didn’t realize that I had to use some vacation days up quick or I would lose them so i took a quick unscheduled vacation from work. I love being in a union! I decided that I was going to also take the week to get away from my dependence on the Internet and television and just concentrate on listening to music and reading a good book or two. I won’t lie and say I cut both totally out but I did limit my time to an hour for each every day. Sometimes I just need to tune out!

Some other things I did last week involved birthdays, my youngest daughter turned 5 and my mom turned 59 the same day, so there was a birthday barbecue. The return of regular season NFL Football came last Thursday with the reigning champion New York Giants facing the Washington Redskins. As many long time readers know, I’m a New England Patriots season ticket holder so I had the opening regular season game today (I am not discussing Tom Brady’s injury at this time), so I tried out a few new recipes on the grill for the pre-game tailgate in the parking lot. Add my 4 hour fantasy football draft Saturday morning and you can see that I may have been on vacation but I still had a lot going on!

I spent a lot of time with new albums and live albums this past week. I have to catch up on reviews and I want to do a “live album week” at the end of the month so I pulled out a few candidates for those reviews.

Metal Church – This Present Wasteland (2008)
Iced Earth – The Crucible Of Man (2008)
Alice Cooper – Along Came A Spider (2008)
Cloudscape – Global Drama (2008)
Maiden Heaven: A Kerrang! Tribute To Iron Maiden (2008)
Venom – Hell (2008)
Motorhead – Motorizer (2008)
Ayreon – 01011001 (2008)
Royal Hunt – Collision Course – Paradox II (2008)
Avantasia – The Scarecrow (2008)
Judas Priest – Nostradamus (2008)

These are the new albums that I have been rgiving serious rotation to the last couple of weeks. I’ve never really taken Avantasia and Judas Priest out of my weekly playlist, same goes for the new Ayreon but I’ve given it just a little more focus because there is so much to hear. The new albums from Royal Hunt, Motorhead, Cloudscape and Alice Cooper are all very good and I haven’t stopped enjoying them. I just picked up the new Venom recently (along with something else I know I’m forgetting, watch for an update on my purchases soon) and it’s…..well, Venom! Venom and Motorhead are so much alike in that they do the same thing over and over. Most of my listening went to advances of the new Iced Earth and Metal Church that I’ve had a few weeks now…..I’m preparing the Iced Earth review for this week, Metal Church next week.

KISS – Alive! (1975)
KISS – Alive II (1977)
Iron Maiden – Live After Death (1985)
Scorpions – World Wide Live (1985)
UFO – Strangers In The Night (1979)
UFO – Werewolves Of London: Live In Wolverhampton 1998 (1999)
Royal Hunt – Live In Japan 1996 (1996)
Michael Schenker Group – Live Unforgiven World Tour (1999)
Black Sabbath – Live Evil (1982)
Black Sabbath – Reunion (1998)
Queen – Live At Wembley ’86 (1992)
Queen – On Fire: Live At The Bowl ’82 (2004)
Judas Priest – Priest In The East (1979)
Judas Priest – Priest…..Live! (1987)
Saxon – The Eagle Has Landed (1982)
Saxon – The Eagle Has Landed Pt.2 (1998)
Saxon – The Eagle Has Landed Pt.3 (2006)
Krokus – Alive & Screamin’ (1986)
Jeff Scott Soto – Live At The Gods (2003)

That’s a pretty good list of live albums! Some of these albums were instrumental in my discovering studio albums from the bands, some were important in my understanding of different eras of the bands, but all of them had a profound influence on me. The first two KISS ALIVE albums are cornerstones of my love for Heavy Metal and KISS but I would also have to put LIVE AFTER DEATH and WORLD WIDE LIVE right there with them because they were cassettes I played to death back when I was kid. I should probably add the Krokus and Judas Priest live records to that list too.

I did a lot of comparisons: PRIEST IN THE EAST vs. PRIEST…..LIVE!, LIVE EVIL vs. REUNION, all 3 Saxon live albums. Some are no brainers so I expect everyone to comment how bad PRIEST…..LIVE! & REUNION are to two all-time classic live albums. Some of these albums like the UFO records, the Royal Hunt, MSG and Jeff Scott Soto have become favorites over the years and you can’t dispute Queen’s legacy in the live arena. My plan for the “live album week” is to pick 7 out of this list, or maybe pick 6 and throw in a surprise, for reviews and memories.

WANTED

 Iced Earth – Night Of The Stormrider (1992)

I was organizing my CD collection the other day and I started pulling out my Iced Earth albums to give them all a fresh listen. I listened to the first album, ICED EARTH, released way back in 1991 and I was about to move on to NIGHT OF THE STORMRIDER when I realized that it was missing! I checked the entire music room, I checked every shelf and pile of CDs, and I looked in the storage boxes I used when we moved into this house two years ago…..nothing.

What I did find was an old notebook that had an old Want List in it. Lo and behold! NIGHT OF THE STORMRIDER is listed! I was sure I already had this CD, I know I’ve listened to it many times so I reached back into my memory to figure out why I don’t have the disc but I know the album so well. I went to a box of CDRs that I have ignored for a few years and, tucked away nice and neat, was a burned copy of the album. In the CD case where the artwork would be there was an index card that read: “BUY A.S.A.P. - ORIGINAL CD RETURNED/RIPPED BACK TRAYCARD”. Mystery solved!

I only want the original issue of the disc, I am not interested in the 2002 remastered version with the different artwork remastered/remixed music.

I’m off work tonite due to a last minute schedule change. Am I tired? Of course! I slept all day after I got home from work this morning so I’m good, I could always use extra sleep though! So I’m unexpectedly off from work, the family is asleep, and I am locked in my music room spinning CDs…..

Cloudscape – Global Drama (2008): What a great album this is! Cloudscape is high quality Power/Progressive Metal, akin to Balance Of Power. GLOBAL DRAMA came out last Tuesday officially but I have been enjoying the disc for a few weeks now. Review this week!

Biloxi – III -In The Wake Of The Storm (2007): Another album I’ve been enjoying a lot lately and it’s a top candidate of my year end list of albums I missed in 2007. Founding vocalist/guitarist Clyde Holly sadly passed away during the recording process so he only sings on 2 songs and contributes guitars to 5. Mark Allen Lanoue has filled in very well in place of Clyde and the band pays tribute to him by creating some good melodic Hard Rock.

Iced Earth – The Crucible Of Man (Something Wicked Pt. 2) (2008): This doesn’t come out for two more weeks but let me tell you this…..it’s awesome! Bringing Matt Barlow back to the band is probably the smartest thing Jon Schaffer has done since the original SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES in 1998. Another solid release for 2008!

Iced Earth – Framing Armageddon (Something Wicked Pt. 1) (2007): I’ve been a big Iced Earth fan since BURNT OFFERINGS (1995) but I just didn’t get into the Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens era of the band. I thought that THE GLORIOUS BURDEN (2004) was boring and I didn’t get into this album until the end of last year. It made my list of the Top 15 Albums Of 2007, coming in at lucky #13! I figured I’d give it a fresh listen.

Metal Church – This Present Wasteland (2008): Another album that doesn’t come out until the end of September. I will be reviewing this one soon so I’m not giving much away right now.

Grim Reaper – See You In Hell (1984): I had to put a classic in there with all the new releases! I haven’t given this a listen in a long time and I needed a NWOBHM fix. I remember being a kid in ’84 and getting a poster of the album cover from a metal mag, I had that poster on my wall until I moved out of my mom’s house…..14 years!

From Bravewords.com:

SPV Records will issue Iced Earth’s new album, The Crucible Of Man (Something Wicked Part II), on the following dates:

– Germany, Austria, Switzerland: September 5th, 2008
– United Kingdom and Europe: September 8th, 2008
– USA and Canada: September 9th, 2008

The album will feature the following tracklisting: ‘In Sacred Flames’, ‘Behold The Wicked Child’, ‘Minions Of The Watch’, ‘The Revealing’, ‘A Gift Or A Curse’, ‘Crown Of The Fallen’, ‘The Dimensional Gauntlet’, ‘I Walk Alone’, ‘Harbinger Of Fate’, ‘Crucify The King’, ‘Sacrificial Kingdoms’, ‘Something Wicked (Part 3)’, ‘Divide And Devour’, ‘Come What May’, ‘Epilogue’.

Following a series of European festival dates throughout the summer, Iced Earth will embark on a North American tour in September. Dates include:

September
21 – Detroit, MI – Harpo’s
22 – Toronto, ON – Phoenix Concert Theatre
23 – Montreal, QC – Le Medley
24 – Philadelphia, PA – Trocadero
25 – Washington, DC – 9:30 Club
26 – Charlotte, NC – Amos’ Southbend
27 – Atlanta, GA – Center Stage (Prog Power USA IX)
28 – Lake Buena Vista, FL – House Of Blues Orlando
29 – Asheville, NC – The Orange Peel
30 – Cleveland, OH – House Of Blues

October
14 – Norfolk, VA – The Norva
15 – Worcester, MA – The Palladium
16 – New York, NY – Nokia Theater
22 – Portland, OR – Hawthorne Theatre
23 – San Francisco, CA – Regency Center at The Grand Ballroom
24 – Los Angeles, CA – The Avalon

A lot has been going on in my life this weekend so the posting was put on hold for a couple of days. I changed shifts at work for this week so my assistant can have a deserved vacation week, I am returning to my natural overnight shift (12am-8am) for one whole week. For ten years I worked the overnight shift and, almost two years ago now, the powers that be changed it to 6pm-2am. That means I have a little more time to listen to music this week! Here’s what’s been spinning the last couple of days:

Judas Priest – Nostradamus (2008): Anytime the Priest returns with a new album, it’s a reason for me to celebrate. I’ve been a devout worshipper at the altar of Judas Priest since 1982 so I knew I would like the new record. The problem with NOSTRADAMUS isn’t the material, it’s the time. The album clocks in at over an hour and forty minutes! That’s serious listening. So far I like the record but I definitely need more time with it…..a lot more time…..

Moonspell –  Night Eternal (2008): I have had an advance of this album for a few weeks now and I am still listening to it. I haven’t really kept up with Moonspell in the last few years but NIGHT ETERNAL has me checking my Moonspell catalogue so I can fill a few holes. A review is coming…..

Headhunter – Parasite Of Society (2008): Destruction mainman Schmier has had Headhunter going since he left Destruction in 1990 and this is their fourth, and latest, album. It’s not Thrash like Destruction, more like Power Metal, and the vocals are a little hard to take. Review is coming…..

Heidevolk – Walhalla Wacht (2008): I’ve been getting into a lot of Pagan Metal/Viking Metal lately and Napalm Records has been very good to me by sending me some of the latest releases (Tyr, Hollenthon, Heidevolk, etc). The music is superb here, very grand sounding, but the lyrics are all in Dutch. That’s just a small complaint as I’ve just enjoyed listening to the music, it’s not always about the words. Review coming also…..

Iron Maiden – Fear Of The Dark (1993): I love this album! I remember back at the end of my high school years my friends and I were disappointed with 1990′s NO PRAYER FOR THE DYING. Maybe it was because SEVENTH SON was so good? When FEAR OF THE DARK came out in ’93, I waited in line for it at a local record store and got a free poster for my trouble! The title track is so good and ‘From Here To Eternity’ is just classic Maiden. A solid album that everyone forgets.

Iron Maiden – The X-Factor (1995) & Virtual XI (1998): The Blaze Bayley era! There were some good moments in the post-Bruce Maiden like ‘The Clansman’, ‘Man On The Edge’, ‘Sign Of The Cross’, ‘Futureal’…..those were the singles. I decided after the Maiden show Friday night that I had to revisit the Blaze era to give it a fresh listen. Hard to believe these albums were released 13 and 10 years ago respectively.

Krokus – Rock The Block (2003): Marc Storace returns to the band after an 8 year absence and Fernando Von Arb is still pumping out boogie riffs this side of AC/DC’s Angus Young. This “reunion” is basically the Storace/Von Arb show but it was the best Krokus album since HEART ATTACK (1988). This would be one of my Top 10 of 2003.

Iced Earth – Framing Armageddon (2007): What was one of my Top 15 Albums of 2007 (#13) has now become an afterthought. I’ve barely listened to it since the new year and I didn’t even bother to review it. I’m preparing a post on albums I missed in 2007 that I’ve finally bought and I decided to revisit this record.

Kamelot – Ghost Opera (2007): Kamelot is one of my favorite bands and I have been listening to this album once a week since it came out. I decided to really give it a fresh round of spins so I can review it. Another album that made my Top 15 Albums of 2007 (#10), I would rate it higher today.

Journey – Revelation (2008): I really like this record and I’ve been giving this a lot of time on the stereo…..just the new songs mostly.

It’s been another solid year for new releases, hundreds of bands released new albums in 2007 and it’s been very hard to keep up. I missed out on many new releases in many different genres because I spend my hard earned money. That money I put aside for my music fix has to be spent wisely and some bands/albums just fall through the cracks. I’ve started to get the attention of some labels and distributors so I’m hoping that I’ll be able to review more new releases in 2008.

Another factor is availability. Today anything can be bought online but the prices can be too high, sometimes it’s better to save a few dollars by holding off on a European or Japanese import and waiting for the U.S. release. In a few of those cases, some albums released around the world in 2007 won’t be released properly in the U.S. until early 2008 (Night Ranger, Airbourne, Primal Fear).

Looking back on 2007, I noticed that some bands got more of my attention than others and I picked up a lot of new releases from 2006 that I had missed. I only expect more of the same as my Want List grows and my musical tastes expand. The only criteria I followed for my Top 15 was that the album had to be a studio album, not a live record, best of, or covers collection. So here it is, my Top 15 Albums of 2007:

#1

Scorpions - Humanity Hour 1 (2007)Scorpions – Humanity Hour 1

The surprise of the year! The Scorpions experimented enough over the last few years but they planted the seeds with 2004′s UNBREAKABLE for a major comeback, not that they ever went away. I admit that I was apprehensive when I found out Pop Rock guru Desmond Child was aboard but the relationship produced a solid Hard Rock album full of melody, emotion, and attitude. This album has remained in my playlist rotation since it’s release and I haven’t tired of it yet, that’s the mark of a great album. I missed the band when they came to Boston this past Fall but their is a rumored tour with Judas Priest in 2008, that will make HUMANITY HOUR 1 even better. Another surprise was the advertised price ($7.99 at Best Buy) and the exclusive bonus track ‘Cold’. A great album AND value!

#2

Joe Lynn Turner - Second Hand Life (2007)Joe Lynn Turner – Second Hand Life

Very close to being my #1 album of 2007. So close in fact that I’ve had to listen to this and the Scorpions more in the last week to make the final decision. All the songs are strong and the music is a pure blend of classic AOR and Melodic Hard Rock. The songwriting is intelligent and emotional and the vocals are the best I’ve heard in 2007, JLT is in fine voice, probably the strongest of his career…..he just sounds so smooth, so effortless in his delivery. There were also a couple of Rainbow influences that gave the album a classic sound without sounding dated. Like the Scorpions album, there was a lot of value: the U.S. release on Friday Music was $12.99 and included an exclusive track (‘Freedom’s Wings’) and all the European and Japanese bonus tracks.

#3

Saxon - The Inner SanctumSaxon – The Inner Sanctum

THE INNER SANCTUM was the album of the year for me until the Scorpions and JLT released their albums. Saxon are one of my favorite bands and they have consistently produced great albums since the late ’90s, this record is no exception. Saxon blends their current approach of blazing fast Power Metal with their NWOBHM roots and creates an album of ten really great songs. Saxon are elder statesmen in the realm of Heavy Metal but they do things better than many of the younger bands. The focus is on the songwriting and then translating it to the live show. Every one of these songs could be played alongside the classics, that’s how strong they are. Add the bonus DVD to the studio album and it turns into a great package, also one of my favorite album covers of the year.

#4

Great White - Back To The Rhythm (2007)Great White – Back To The Rhythm

A successful comeback by a band no one expected to do anything. After all that has happened, did anyone think that Great White would actually make an album? They did and they made a great Blues based Hard Rock record. Getting the classic lineup back together rejuvenated the writing and getting singer Jack Russell sober made all the difference as he put in probably the best vocal performance of his career.

#5

Icarus Witch - Songs For The Lost (2007)Icarus Witch – Songs For The Lost

One of the best new bands out there playing a cross between NWOBHM and Traditional Metal. This is their second album and it doesn’t suffer from the “sophomore jinx”, this is a solid slab of straight up Heavy Metal. I even like the cover of Def Leppard’s ‘Mirror Mirror’! A band worth watching for the future.

#6

Primal Fear - New Religion (2007)Primal Fear – New Religion

Primal Fear just make good Heavy Metal records…..period. NEW RELIGION has a bit more melody and harmony within the power of their Metal assault, making the album more accessible and diverse. Everytime I hear a new Primal Fear record, I always wonder how vocalist Ralf Scheepers lost the Judas Priest gig to Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens. Ralf has grown from being complete Halford clone to being one of the best Metal singers alive. Had to pick this up on import in September, the U.S. release is January 2008.

#7

Airbourne - Runnin’ Wild (2007)Airbourne – Runnin’ Wild

I bought into all the hype and rave reviews and I picked this up very late in the year. I was skeptical because I had heard only two songs and I wondered if AC/DC clones could produce a strong album. Everyone likes AC/DC, and with them out of the picture for now, Airbourne has picked up where Angus & company left off. It’s simple bluesy Hard Rock like AC/DC, Rose Tattoo, and The Angels but with a youthful energy built for party Rock. Had to get this one on import late in the year also because their U.S. distribution starts in January 2008.

#8

3 Inches Of Blood - Fire Up The Blades (2007)3 Inches Of Blood – Fire Up The Blades

A big thanks to a loyal reader, and devout Metalhead, Rene for pushing me to check out this band. Good thing I listened because 3 Inches Of Blood is a great young band that blends many different styles of Metal into their overall sound. Cam Pipes is one of the better Metal vocalists that can incorporate clean/traditional singing with growls. grunts, and groans. Another young band making their mark.

#9

Ted Nugent - Love Grenade (2007)Ted Nugent – Love Grenade

Terrible Ted came roaring from the woods to deliver his best album in years. Continuing with his gonzo attitude and hunter instinct, Ted took his love of the Blues, added his Hard Rock blend and tongue-in-cheek humor, and built the LOVE GRENADE. Jack Blades’ (Night Ranger/Damn Yankees) produces and co-writes here and does a spectacular job at getting the best from the Nuge. One listen to ‘Girl Scout Cookies’ and ‘Funk U’ and you’ll understand.

#10

Kamelot - Ghost Opera (2007)Kamelot – Ghost Opera

Another end of the year addition and it’s a shame I waited so long, it’s a good album. A little more Progressive and Symphonic than their past Power Metal style but still good. Kamelot proves that heavy music can be intricate and diverse while retaining the power…..I really dig the orchestration and strings and the lush backgrounds. Is Roy Khan one of the most underrated singers in Metal or what? Added value to this one is the bonus DVD on the limited edition.

#11

Megadeth - United Abominations (2007)Megadeth – United Abominations

At first, I wasn’t excited or impressed, Megadeth hadn’t regained my trust from 1999′s RISK debacle even though there had been two decent studio releases since. It wasn’t until mid-May when I saw Megadeth open for Heaven & Hell that I stood up and took notice. It’s having classic Megadeth back with Dave Mustaine more focused than ever.

#12

Helloween - Gambling With The Devil (2007)Helloween – Gambling With The Devil

Helloween were kind of put in the same category as Megadeth because I just couldn’t get into their last two albums: RABBIT DON’T COME EASY (2003) & KEEPER OF THE SEVEN KEYS – THE LEGACY (2005). There was too much experimentation and enhancements on those records while the band tried to regain their signature sound and promised fans such. This album was more straight ahead Power Metal that Helloween is known for. Andi Deris puts in a spectacular performance and the band has shown that all the lineup changes of recent years hasn’t disrupted their core.

#13

Iced Earth - Framing Armageddon (Something Wicked Pt.1) (2007)Iced Earth – Framing Armageddon (Something Wicked Pt.1)

Hard to believe that this is only Iced Earth’s third album since 1998′s masterpiece SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES. It’s also hard to believe that after releasing two very spotty concept records, the band would come roaring back to form with another concept album based on the SOMETHING WICKED theme. Unfortunately, recent lineup changes (Owens out, Barlow back in) and some late year additions to my collection have pushed this album down the list, I had it Top 10 easily up until the last couple of weeks.

#14

Endeverafter - Kiss Or Kill (2007)Endeverafter – Kiss Or Kill

Endeverafter came out of nowhere to deliver solid party time Hard Rock. A blend of classic L.A. Hard Rock with today’s edge, I couldn’t find a bad song. I’d like to hear how the do on their next record.

#15

Masterplan - MK II (2007)Masterplan – MK II

I’ve had this CD since early April and I’m still enjoying it. Unfortunately, it ranks a little lower due to my getting used to Mike DiMeo replacing Jorn Lande at the mic and the fact that many top bands released excellent albums later in the year. Really good Power/Progressive Metal here, hopefully the lineup stays stable.

In case my list wasn’t enough, or you simply don’t agree, some other great Music blogs have listed their Top Albums of 2007:

Axeman

Bring Back Glam

Hard Rock Hideout

Heavy Metal Time Machine

Imagine Echoes

Layla’s Classic Rock Faves

The Metal Minute

Raise Your Fists

Rock & Roll And Meandering Nonsense

Rock Of Ages (Dave’s Best of 2007)

Rock Of Ages (Bill’s Best of 2007)

 Matt Barlow

From Iced Earth.com:

Hello Dear Friends!

Once again the winds of change are upon us, and this time I can say that I am very happy about the result.

While out on the European tour I had several in depth discussions with many loyal Iced Earth fans. A common theme of these discussions was how much Matt is missed. I agreed with the fans that things were not the same and that it was a very special period in Iced Earth’s history.

When I heard several months ago that Matt was going to be doing a project in music again, I was thinking about contacting him and seeing what his intentions were. I didn’t act on this because I was so focused on the writing of the new epic, and frankly, it just didn’t seem realistic.

Well, after getting out on the road and speaking with many of you directly, I decided to call Matt and see how he was doing and if he was interested in working together again. I am proud to say that he is coming back to Iced Earth and we will be getting back to work in the studio very soon.

Matt will be singing on Part 2 of the Something Wicked concept CD and we will be looking forward to getting out on tour and delivering a series of Iced Earth shows that will rival any in the history of the band. And there will be a proper DVD filmed from this period, something we’ve all been waiting for.

I want you all to know that it was you who made this a reality. I have missed Matt’s presence onstage and in my personal life in a big way over the past few years, so I appreciate your honesty in our discussions. It did help me realize the decision to move forward with pursuing this. The fans have spoken and we have delivered!

You true fans know that I’m a straight shooter, I say what I mean and mean what I say. And though I value your opinions greatly, you must believe that this is a decision that comes completely from the heart and is not motivated by anything other than what feels the best for Iced Earth. This is the way that things have always been dealt with, for better or for worse, but always honestly and from the heart.

Tim Owens is a great and talented singer and I wish the best for him and his future on a personal and professional level.

There will be more news soon as to further developments and plans. This will push back the release of Part 2 a bit. Not because we couldn’t be ready to record in time, but because of a new addition to Matt’s family in early 2008!

I am very happy to announce that Iced Earth is truly BACK!

Have a great holiday season. We’ll be in touch very soon with more details.

Jon Schaffer

—————————————————————

Wow! Can’t say I saw that one coming. Tim Owens is out of Iced Earth and former vocalist Matt Barlow replaces him. It’s a puzzling move in the fact that the band just released FRAMING ARMAGEDDON (Pt.1) this year and it’s a solid record from what seemed to be a solid partnership. Barlow is the Iced Earth sound but his return is confusing because he left to pursue a career in law enforcement and it was a tense split. Not sure what all the reasons are but Iced Earth just got better. No offense to ‘Ripper’ Owens, he did an excellent job vocally on two Iced Earth albums but he has put himself into two bands replacing a unique voice, if I were him I would concentrate on a solo career. No doubt he would have an excellent one just take a listen to the Beyond Fear debut. I wonder how long it will be until Jon Schaffer re-records FRAMING ARMAGEDDON (Pt.1) with Matt Barlow’s vocals…..that’s something I’d like to hear.

—- Steve