|Classic Review: Iced Earth - Burnt Offerings|
Label: Century Media
Year released: 1995
Review online: December 20, 2007
Reviewed by: Larry Griffin
As I often make quite clear, I am not an Iced Earth fan, and I often take to bashing and making fun of them whenever they come up in the course of conversation. Well, this album is the one album where they did pretty much everything right, with none of the repetitive riffs or boring, overdone aesthetics of later works, and I have no qualms with proclaiming this one of the best metal albums of the 90s.
Burnt Offerings is a brooding, dark, epic stomper of an album with a thick, heavy guitar tone and a crunchy, raw bass sound that really hits home and gives Iced Earth their own sound here. Dark melody lines fuse seamlessly with thrashy riffs to form a morass of gleefully evil goodness that is both compelling and headbangable at the same time. The production just rules all around, smothering you beneath a gargantuan wall of crushing, sludgy riffs, skull-pummeling drums and slithering, razor-sharp bass lines, not to mention the deep, operatic rumble of Matt Barlow's fantastic voice - this is the best performance he's done to date. For anyone who thinks he sounds cheesy or overdramatic, look no further than this album for proof that he is (or was) neither. This band has always had a unique, hard to classify sound that doesn't really liken them to any other band. They were rooted in Thrash Metal at the beginning of their career, but even then, you won't find many semblances of Megadeth, Exodus or Slayer here - Iced Earth were much darker than most Thrash, and they also had a tendency to slow down to an evil groove that really fucking ruled. The slow parts of Burnt Offerings are the best parts, and it's a shame that the band abandoned them later for a more straightforward and pugilistic Heavy Metal style. The songs here do tend to blend together if you're not paying close attention, and it will indeed require such close attention to "get" this album - it's not a catchy collection of singles. This is meant to be heard in its entirety.
Weak songs? Not here. As I mentioned, this is the only album in the band's entire career where Iced Earth did everything right and produced a viable, well-made metal album without any glaring flaws. Every song here rules without exception, and there are only great songs that are better than the good songs here; no filler at all. For songs that rule the most, I'd have to name the epic, sorrowful title track, the sizzling "Burning Oasis," the massive, kinetic stomp of "Creator Failure," and of course the mandatory 16 minute epic "Dante's Inferno," which may go on for a bit too long, but is an awesome song nonetheless. Eat my shorts, Gettysburg trilogy.
I wish the band had never changed their style after this album. If you haven't heard it, then you need it, especially if you dislike this band in its current incarnation as much as I do. Highly recommended.
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