|Review: Iced Earth - Framing Armageddon|
Year released: 2007
Genre: Heavy Metal
Review online: November 18, 2007
Reviewed by: Larry Griffin
I don't get it. Iced Earth, as usual, are getting a lot of praise and hoohah over this one, but this isn't anything special. It's just Iced Earth, despite the absurdly pretentious pomp they've taken to adorning this album with. Framing Armageddon is a concept album about something I don't really care about, but apparently involves the band's so-called "mascot," who is really just Iron Maiden's Eddie wearing a lot of battle armor, and it's the first part in a two part story, the next of which is set for release in early 2008. I didn't actually think this would be as bad as the band's horribly misbegotten nightmare The Glorious Burden from 2004, and it isn't, but you'd have to have pretty fucking low standards to praise this album just because it's a step above that one.
First, the good: The guitar tone is a little better than on the previous album. "Infiltrate and Assimilate" smokes, and the title track is absolutely the best song they've done in years, worth more by itself than The Glorious Burden was as a whole. "The Clouding" is an excellent song, albeit going on a bit too long. "Order of the Rose" and "When Stars Collide" are both pretty good, with the former having some great soloing going on, and the latter with a powerful Blind Guardian-esque chorus. This album also has some very cool "middle eastern" ambiance in its slower parts that could be turned into something engaging and powerful, if Schaffer was a talented songwriter at all. Unfortunately, as expected, he reigned in those influences for just a very small part of the album, and left the lion's share to the same old midpaced, chugging, boring riffs that we've grown to know and loathe over the past 10 years of the band's history.
I mentioned that this album was really pompous, and it is. Schaffer has really blown his load here more than ever, and churned out a 19 track album. I don't think any band needs 19 tracks on one album, let alone Iced Earth. This album is 70 minutes long, and while some bands have enough variety to pull that off, this one is definitely not one of them. Hey Schaffer, next time you want to make an album this drawn out and elaborate, try incorporating more varied musical elements to the actual SONGS, instead of just throwing them into those inane little interludes in an attempt to be "epic." You're not. Oh, and while I'm at it, stop writing the same song over and over and calling it an album. You're not fooling anyone. Framing Armageddon is musically lifeless; over an hour of an overrated band going through the motions, galloping riffs and gang choruses galore, same as the last one. There are good ideas splashed about, but it's all too often that those good ideas are stretched out to the point where you just don't care anymore.
Tim Owens sounds pretty good as usual, but for some reason a lot of the choruses here are piled with tons upon tons of vocal layers. Is the band trying to be Blind Guardian? Let the man fucking sing. We all know he can, as is evident on the title track especially, so why the vocal layers? The choruses here are a real low point; dragging, inept, and dull as hell. The band really, really needs to let Owens start banshee howling his way through their albums, because they won't be very interesting otherwise.
The worst thing about this album is that it's ALMOST good, it's ALMOST as cool as it wants to be. But no, Schaffer can't make a good album! He's like a cruel child dangling food over a cat's head and not letting him have it. So close, yet so far away; that kind of thing. It's horrendously frustrating when the band pulls out some ripping, screaming solos like on "Order of the Rose," or the total Painkiller worship of the last minute or so of the title track, and then fills the rest of the album with tepid, droning bullshit like the awful "Something Wicked part 1" and countless other tracks I can't even be assed to remember. There are indeed very good moments here, but this album is just too long to ever digest it all. The bad songs are really bad, and they go absolutely nowhere, like a retard in a giant hamster wheel, and there are way too many of them, all of which could've been cut to make a very good 45 minute album instead of a tepid 70 minute one.
This will forever remain one of those albums where you pick out some select songs as singles, and then trash the rest of it forever. Not recommended, unless you're one of those people who jizz all over everything Schaffer releases.
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