Iced Earth - Something Wicked This Way Comes
Century Media
Heavy Metal
13 songs (61:55)
Release year: 1998
Iced Earth, Century Media
Reviewed by Marty

The year 1998 was when I finally discovered that there was a real heavy metal explosion happening in Europe and that we here in North America, due to the lack of media coverage and record label support, were largely oblivious to the whole scene. After hearing some poor quality mp3 clips, I ordered Edguy- Vain Glory Opera, Blind Guardian- Nightfall In Middle Earth, and Iced Earth- Something Wicked This Way Comes. These CDs were all imports for me here in Canada at the time (with the exception of Iced Earth being a U.S. release) and cost me a small fortune. Those three CDs that arrived in my mailbox that summer, still to this day, are some of my favorite metal releases of all time. At the time, without the internet and the small handful of metal sites that existed, most people had no idea who some of these bands were. The fact that Iced Earth was from the U.S. and had never toured there, also baffled me. How could a band like this go largely unnoticed in their homeland but be so warmly embraced by Europe? They were huge there right from the release of their Enter The Realm demo.

What impressed me about Something Wicked This Way Comes was the overall sound of the band, the diversity of the songs, the killer crunch of the guitars and the vocals of Matthew Barlow. They play classic heavy metal that really hasn't been heard since the 80's. Jon Schaffer, guitarist and principle songwriter, mixes a blend of Metallica style riffs with the dramatic flair of Iron Maiden and even adds a touch of Testament, Anthrax, and Slayer type aggression to his songs. He's taken the best elements from some of the best metal bands ever and created a fresh new and very original sound with it.

This whole album is somewhat of a concept album with the overall theme being the coming apocalypse and the eventual downfall of mankind as described in bible prophecy. The opening track, Burning Times, uses big thick chunky riffs with a wicked sustaining sound very much like Metallica's Ride The Lightning album. Matt's vocals are in the classic Thrash Metal style but his voice is very clear and strong and you hear every word he sings perfectly. Melancholy (Holy Martyr), about Jesus looking down from the cross at his betrayers, begins with some nice soft acoustic guitar and quiet reflective vocals by Matt. As you know with this band, when you hear soft acoustic guitar, sooner or later it's going to get ugly and heavy! Matt delivers one of his best and most passionate vocal performances ever during this track which uses alternating soft and heavy passages. The chorus is stunning and very powerful and the track ends in a flurry of power riffing and double bass drumming. Disciples Of The Lie, one of the more faster aggressive tracks on this release, is a nasty look at corruption and sexual abuse by the religious community ( a very topical issue these days) and contains some very fast riffing and amazing double bass drumming. Matt uses a very aggressive Testament or Slayer type of vocal delivery which really adds and element of anger to the track. Watching Over Me, a definite concert highlight if you've ever seen them live, is a very spirited and touching reflection on the life of one of Jon Schaffer's best friend's who died tragically some years ago. This track again uses the classic acoustic quiet part for the verses then heavy for the chorus that is used in Melancholy and probably first heard, to my recollection, in Bad Company's Shooting Star, a song Iced Earth actually covered on their Melancholy E.P. The chorus is amazing and in concert, it's common to hear the whole crowd singing along to this one. Stand Alone, another blistering track, has some older Metallica - like recklessness and mid-song even uses some Blackened style riffing. Consequences, very Uriah Heep like, is mostly acoustic and uses some great vocal layering by Matt but, like I've said before, sooner or later with this band, it's going to get ugly! Near the end, it does......power chord riffs and harmony guitar propel the track to a stunning conclusion and Matt lets rip some very passionate screaming vocals. My Own Savior, is another cooker of a song and features very fast speedy riffs and a pounding heavy backbeat. Matt again uses the angry Thrash Metal style for the vocals and some of the instrumentation has a Mercyful Fate like feel to it. A very quiet intro for Reaping Stone breaks into a nasty and evil pounding heavy riff that really has the sound and feel of something Randy Rhoads did on Little Dolls from Ozzy's Diary Of A Madman album and really sets an ominous tone for the whole track. It speeds up mid-song for some great fast riffing and again features some amazing screaming vocals by Matt.

This album has an instrumental track, 1776, about the American Declaration Of Independance, and has an Iron Maiden- Transylvania feel and arrangement to it. There's a repetitive theme throughout and even uses a flute in parts and it works surprisingly well! Blessed Are You, dedicated to the very devoted and loyal Iced Earth fans who have supported the band over the years, again uses the quiet and mellow sound for the verses and heavy for the chorus that's used in both Melancholy and Watching Over Me. This song features another great chorus and uses lots of harmonized guitar passages instead of ripping lead guitar. This is very effective and is used a lot on the album to help create more of a mood and atmosphere for each track. Lead guitar parts are only used sporadically throughout, opting for more tempo changes and harmonized guitar riffing.

The final track, the Something Wicked Trilogy, is a 20 minute epic broken up into three interlocking pieces and is one of the best heavy metal epics that you will ever hear. A slow intro with some great guitar harmonies leads into some very fast and choppy rhythms as you embark on a journey through the evils of mankind, setting the stage for the coming of the Anti-Christ (The Wicked One). A common thematic riff is found throughout all 3 pieces (Prophecy, Birth Of The Wicked and The Coming Curse) and contains lots of tempo changes and some very technical riffing which is delivered to flawless perfection. The lyrics tell a story, an ominous one, and the way they flow with the music is simply stunning. A quiet and eerie piano passage opens the final part of the trilogy, The Coming Curse, and then rips right into a flurry of riffing and very biting and nasty vocals by Matt. The double bass drumming used in this part is staggering in it's speed and the song builds to a an awesome climax with choirs of voices gradually coming into the mix to end this awesome epic piece of music. This track is a heavy metal masterpiece and is an amazing and extremely effective way to end this album.

This release is as classic as any metal release that has come before or after it and certainly was one of the best, if not the best metal release of the 1990's. This band has it all, a great heavy sound, great vocals and awesome songwriting due to the talents of Jon Schaffer. If this band had released this album in the early to mid 80's, it would have been huge. They would've been playing stadiums and doing headliner tours and probably would be as popular today as bands such as Iron Maiden or Metallica. Heavy metal has really gone underground since the early 90's due to lack of label support but is slowly creeping back to the forefront largely due to bands like this. With every album they release, the band gets more popular. Album sales are climbing, concert attendance is up and this year for the first time, they did a headlining tour of the U.S. and Canada. All this band needs is the proper record company support to push them to the top of the metal scene. Everyone in North America seems to be awaiting the arrival of the next Metallica or Iron Maiden when all along it's been right under there noses........it's name is Iced Earth!

Killing Songs :
All of them!!!
Marty quoted 98 / 100
Danny quoted 100 / 100
Aleksie quoted 97 / 100
Dylan quoted 95 / 100
Other albums by Iced Earth that we have reviewed:
Iced Earth - Incorruptible reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
Iced Earth - Dystopia reviewed by Goat and quoted 83 / 100
Iced Earth - Iced Earth reviewed by Storm and quoted 48 / 100
Iced Earth - Night Of The Stormrider reviewed by Storm and quoted 99 / 100
Iced Earth - The Crucible of Man - Something Wicked Part 2 reviewed by Aleksie and quoted 90 / 100
To see all 16 reviews click here
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