|Review: Iced Earth - Horror Show|
Label: Century Media Records
Year released: 2001
Genre: Heavy Metal
Review online: June 16, 2001
Reviewed by: Michel Renaud
Rated 4.04/5 (80.9%) (89 Votes)
Here it is, finally, one of the most anticipated album of the year. I was not too enthusiastic when the name of the album was announced, Horror Show having a kind of gimmicky sound to it, although I didn't have too much of the problem with the theme of the album - horror movies. The 10 songs on the album revolve around that theme, except for Ghost of Freedom which is a poignant ballad dedicated to those who have fought for freedom. Excellent job on the vocals on this one, and the music is very solemn and somewhat melancholic, very appropriate for the dedication, and the lyrics seem to be based on a real life experience.
There are no weak tracks on the album, although the lyrics on one or two of them are not up to par with the others (eg. Jack), but overall they've done a good job on that, there's only so much you can do based on horror movies and most songs' lyrics here describe the core of the story very well.
If there is one major criticism I have to make is the fact that, while the guitar work is as aggressive and precise as one would expect from Iced Earth, unfortunately it's pretty much more of the same as before - it's time for Jon Schaffer to diversify his riffs a little bit, because we are way past a signature sound here. I like the sound so it doesn't bother me that much, but it would still be nice to hear something new in that area. The guitar work is still very impressive, just not enough new stuff. I particularly appreciate the drumming on this album, very tight and well done, powerful when need be, it is definitely one of the highlights on this release.
If you ever had a beef with Matt Barlow's vocals, well his work on this album will most likely shut you up! :) Very emotive, powerful vocals, he is more than ever in control of his voice here, although there are a couple of vocal parts that I wish they had changed, such as the chorus on Frankenstein which annoys me greatly. Well, that's pretty much a matter of personal taste but what is a review for - hehe. Anyway, if I rated things individually, the vocals on this album would get an almost perfect score.
The last song, The Phantom Opera Ghost, is very different from the rest of the album in that the lead vocal work is shared with an excellent female singer. This song is simply a work of genius, it is so appropriate to the depicted story, lyrically, musically, vocally and emotionally. This is how to use female vocals so that they are NOT seen as a gimmick. Two thumbs up.
The album might take some time getting used to, at first I didn't like some of the songs and it to a few listens for it to sink in, but I now have to admit I'm in the presence of a great metal release. If you've heard Iced Earth before, you have an idea of what's waiting for you here - aggressive guitars, better than ever vocal work, intense drumming (with occasional double-bass) and well, DiGiorgio does the bass guitar so that speaks for itself. Iced Earth are back with their devastating yet melodic heavy metal-meets-power metal sound. Hopefully we won't have to wait as long for their next studio effort. Hails!
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