In 1998, Iced Earth released an album called Something Wicked This Way Comes . The final 20 minutes of that album featured the debut of the "Something Wicked" trilogy, a three-part epic overview of a story written and created by band mastermind Jon Schaffer.
While the above trilogy was only an overview, the entire story was written and laid waiting to be told. Now, almost 10 years later, after years of hard work and contemplation, Schaffer has delivered the first part of what could be his magnum opus. "Framing Armageddon (Something Wicked Part I)" is the first of two albums weaving a thrilling Sci-Fi tale of mankind s invasion of Earth, the planet occupied by the direct descendents of the Grand Architect of the Universe. These descendents, the Setians, are the Earth's most ancient culture, and are the wisest, most peaceful race in existence.
Not only is the story told through the music and lyrics, but in true Iced Earth fashion, through the album artwork as well. Over the years Schaffer has established a loyal record-buying fanbase through quality craftsmanship that runs through every facet of the band and their output. After the very successful release of the teaser single "Overture of the Wicked", it's certain that the fans will be utterly blown away by "Framing Armageddon (Something Wicked Part I)". Both musically and visually, this album will NOT disappoint.
Jon Schaffer and friends tackle the Something Wicked story once again on a collection that feels more like a symphony than a traditional rock album. The symphonic element reveals itself through sonic vignettes such as "Overture," "Reflections," and "Execution," each one serving as a bridge in an intriguing if occasionally nebulous storyline. In its way, the album favors atmosphere over solid songwriting--the epic "The Clouding" has numerous memorable musical moments but fails to fully capture the listener's imagination, despite some well-conceived and thoughtfully executed guitar work from Schaffer; "The Domino Decree" comes off like a Deep Purple retread and although at first exciting, eventually fades into a muddled piece. Part of the problem may be that vocalist Tim Owens often sounds reined in by his surroundings--occasional barbaric shrieks aside; another may be that the music often sounds more like the power metal bands (Kamelot, Blind Guardian) that Iced Earth influenced rather than Iced Earth itself. Framing Armageddon has some fine moments, and some lukewarm ones, as well. The overall impression is that the band might be best served by a fresh perspective and a little more focus on feel over faultlessness. --Jedd Beaudoin