Monday, June 11, 2007

Overture of the Wicked, a Review

Overture of the WickedIt's been about three and a half years since Iced Earth released The Glorious Burden, and now fans finally have a new release to enjoy. Overture of the Wicked is an EP of four songs which is a prelude to the full album release of Framing Armageddon (due in September or October). Overture contains a new single, "Ten Thousand Strong," plus a re-recording of the "Something Wicked" trilogy (the last three songs on Something Wicked This Way Comes).

Although the band has been hit with difficulties as of late (drummer Richard Christy [also of the band Death] joined The Howard Stern Show, one guitarist was arrested for rape, and another left due to business reasons), you'd never guess by this recording. The new song, "Ten Thousand Strong", reminds me of a fast "Declaration Day". It doesn't feature a solo, but it drives and gallops fiercely, and does a good job of hinting at what we can expect in the Fall.

The new version of the "Something Wicked" trilogy made me respect the orginal piece more. Jon Schaffer's playing on this is exceptionally tight and very palm-muted. There is also less midrange in his tone than in the original (this is expected, since this tone is prominently featured in the last IE and latest Demons & Wizards records).

The solos really soar this time around. It's unclear to me who plays them, since the EP says the lead player is Tim Mills, but that Schaffer plays the leads; I suspect it's Mills. Too bad he's not around anymore.

"New" drummer Brent Smedley, back from Alive In Athens, is extraordinarily good. He is pounding mightily on the damn things and sounds a lot like Christy. There is very slick double-bass (especially on "The Coming Curse," where it sounds like a machine gun).

Sadly, the only negative is vocalist Tim Owens, whose voice is very pushed back in the mix, and does a very good job of sounding like Dio. He isn't terrible, but it's times like this that I really miss Matt Barlow, who many consider to be the voice of the band. It's a damn shame that he's singing again (for Pyramaze), but not for this band.

Overall this disc is a fine addition to the Iced Earth catalog and is a definite buy for fans of both the band and heavy metal in general.


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