on September 10, 2007
After 6 years of being an Iced Earth fan and anticipating this album that whole time, I am glad to say that this album was well worth the wait. Jon Schaffer has truly outdone himself here. The music, the orchestration, the lyrics, the awesome metal riffs; everything is here.
Glorious Burden is a good album, but it felt more like an album to test the waters than a typical solid IE release. With the band changing record labels as well as its singer, it just seemed like a hit or miss album with some awesome tracks but a few I didn't care for so much. However, any doubts this had created about this epic follow up are put entirely to rest. This is IE's best album to date. Ripper is at the top of his game with a sound that feels like it was crafted just for him, and this may sound like heresy to some, but I find it difficult to imagine Barlow's low, haunting tone on some of these tracks. And with all the great music that flows so wonderfully together, we also have a very well thought and complex sci-fi story that Schaffer has poured his blood and emotion into (The scope and story are more ambitious than a lot of sci-fi that I've read from novelists.) Just brilliant.
There are 19 tracks total on this concept album behemoth, too many to comment on each one, but there are definitely some notable standout tracks:
The album begins with "Overture", which sets the tone wonderfully. It has a very eastern feel with lots of string instruments and bongo style drums. It paves the way nicely for the opener track, "Something Wicked Pt 1". This track is mind blowing. I was expecting to hear the redone version of Prophecy that I heard on the single, but this is its own song. It begins with a stunning riff that seems to be a combination of old Metallica and Beethoven. "The Setian Massacre" I had already heard on the band's myspace page and it's a nice hard rocking track, reminiscent of The Reckoning. "A Charge to Keep" is Framing Armageddon's first ballad, and IE has exceeded their standards with great ballads on this one.
"Ten Thousand Strong" is arguably the best track on the album. Even though I already heard it with the Overture single, the buildup intro track Reflections puts it in a whole new context. Just amazing. This is one of those songs that makes you want to raise your fist and cheer.
"The Clouding" is definitely the most unique of this CD, and I don't believe we've heard anything like it before. It's long -at about 9 minutes- and the first 5 of those are in a slow ballad style with some ambient guitar not unlike Pink Floyd. It turns into a hard rocker with a riff that would fit right at home in an early Sabbath album. Pretty cool song. Framing doesn't stop rocking there either. It continues with "Order of the Rose", "Infiltrate and Assimilate" (reminds me of Violate or Disciples), the epic "Domino Decree" and the title track "Framing Armageddon".
Those may be the tracks of note, but there is nothing unworthy of Iced Earth in the entire album. Every song, including the few short bridge tracks, flow well into each other to tell this story. The lyrics are thoughtful and well sung by the ever versatile Tim "Ripper" Owens. And of course, we have the riffing, the trademark style that is all Schaffer and that keeps me loving this band with every release.
Jon Schaffer, if you are to read this, I tip my hat to you. This is your best work yet and you are an inspiration to anyone who aspires to do something great.
This album is amazing, and anyone who likes metal, nay music, weather or not they have listened to IE or not before, should buy this album. I eagerly await part 2! Cheers and rock the f*** on!
on November 2, 2007
Tim `Ripper' Owens is quite simply an amazing vocalist. His phrasing is amongst the best I've ever heard, as evidenced on the harmonic laced "Reflections' and the ballad type moments of `The Clouding'. While he may not have the `Baritone' of Barlow, I believe he has the best-matched voice for Iced Earth. And with time, more Iced Earth fans will understand what I have understood since he sang on the Gettysburg Trilogy.
Jon Schaffer has also taken steps forward as the maturing song writer. Yes, the infamous `gallop riff' is still as prominent as ever, but is taken in an entirely new direction, which is refreshing to see. The main riff in `Something Wicked Part 1' is a good example of this, brimming with the spirit of latter day Dream Theater composition.
As for the album's epic masterwork, there isn't one - really. `The Clouding' is the closest you're going to get clocking in at 9 minutes. This matters little though, as each song is deserving of its own sound world - no guitar riff is rehashed, not this time...
The artwork and inner booklet is very nice indeed, containing song illustrations in the same vein as 2001's `Horror Show' and 2004's `The Glorious Burden'. Again, Schaffer takes pride in CD packaging and offers up greater reason to buy his art rather than to simply download it. While I maintain the `Something Wicked' storyline, should have been released as a double disc set, the illustrations and lyrics here only offer a `general' outline of the `Something Wicked' storyline, and are not enough to suffice a full blown concept - like a comic book. The original idea was to release a comic book accompanying the CD. However, it is believed it would be too time consuming to do so.
Throwaway tracks: Nearly every Iced Earth album has 1 or 2 duds. Fortunately, there is only 1 here, and that is the instrumental `Something Wicked pt.2' - it will bore the pants off you! The same thing was achieved much earlier with the superior `Overture'.
After 18 + years of writing material for Iced Earth, what keeps Schaffer going is his desire to make the big leagues - to someday move 500,000 copies in the U.S. That is his ultimate goal. What's stopping him is the absence of a permanent lead guitar player (not just guest solo spots on albums). Now the problem may be with Schaffer himself, and his specific vision on how an IE song should sound. Consider the revolving door of band members - with little collaboration to be found in recent years.
On "Framing Armageddon" there are moments where a lead begins but never really takes off. `The Setian Massacre' is a prime example. All the classic bands: Sabbath, Metallica, Maiden, all utilized this area in their music to maximum effect. With Iced Earth, a guitar lead is merely in the shadow of a gargantuan riff. `Retribution through the Ages' carries the longest (and best) solo on `Framing Armageddon'.
With those minor criticisms aside `Framing Armageddon' still receives weekly rotation in my CD player and is easily one of 2007's best metal releases. Look out for Something Wicked pt 2. which should surface around July 2008!!
on September 15, 2007
I've been listening to Framing Armageddon all day. I have two words for it:
This isn't the Iced Earth of even just a few years ago. This is a new IE, with more melody, more depth, and more variety in their songs -- and vocals from Tim Owens that perfectly match the music.
Whereas in the past I thought Tim's vocals seemed tacked on, almost like they were purposely cast to replace (former vocalist) Matt Barlow's vocals, on Armageddon Tim's voice fits the music to a T. It's obvious Armageddon was a collaboration, with Jon writing for Tim's killer vocal style rather than for Matt's.
I know I'll take heat for typing this, but I think Armageddon is IE's best work to date. I love Something Wicked and Horror Show. I think Alive in Athens is a landmark in live metal recordings. But Framing Armageddon is in a different league entirely.
The recording is crisp and multi-layered. There's just the right amount of everything. Track 12, "The Clouding," is a phenomenal song. But so are many of the other tracks -- especially "The Domino Decree," a song that skirts the edges of classic prog rock by using keyboards that remind me of Kansas. "Domino" is a stirring, bold, transcendent song on an album brimming over with masterful songs.
Tim shines. No doubt about it. His soaring voice has finally found a home that showcases it. But I think it's Jon Schaffer who deserves high marks for crafting music that lives and breathes, that stands alone as truly great music, rather than music that's clearly created by Jon Schaffer. Jon has a trademark style of riffing and songwriting. Even his guitar tone is classic. But I'm not hearing Jon Schaffer on Framing Armageddon. Even his guitar tone sounds different. No, I'm hearing a mature songwriter who has just created an album that spotlights the talents of everyone involved, not just himself. This is Jon Schaffer's masterpiece. He is clearly at the top of his game.
Framing Armageddon grabbed me from the first listen and has continued to hold my attention virtually all day long.
Remarkable. Absolutely remarkable.
THIS is an Iced Earth that I'd love to see tour.
Bring it to the U.S., Jon!
on April 27, 2009
Fantastic Album of Metal. Forgive me, I don't get into lables so much (ie) Progressive, Thrash ect. Good Metal stands on it's own.
I'd never heard of Iced Earth before, I'm a 36yr old fan of heavy Metal of all kinds. I'll admit I have since found that I caught Iced Earth in transition so to speak with a different singer. but I think this album rocks!
Being a long time fan of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Scorpions, Megadeth and the like, I was looking for something new, but I don't care for the nu-metal sound at all. This album fit that mold nicely.
The strongest tracks to me are: 'Setian Massacre' 'A Charge to Keep' 'Ten Thousand Strong' 'Order Of The Rose' and 'The Clouding'
I really enjoyed putting the headphones on and listening to this album, it is very crunchy and the vocals are soaring. Tim Owens sounds MUCH better here than on his Judas Priest albums IMO. The story line, I can take or leave, as it requires you to "get into this fantasy world" Of Setians vs Humans, which at this stage in my life is a little "corny" But overall I like the music and lyrics enough to recommend it to my friends. I even checked out Glorious Burden (same vocalist) and purchased that as well.
I've learned my lesson over the years about following a band and purchasing every release (ie) Metallica, Kiss and Judas Priest. Most bands reach a creative peak and put out two or three great albums, and then spend the rest of their career trying to recapture the magic, or go in an entirely new direction to build a new fan base. The exceptions being Iron Maiden's (Matter of Life and Death) and Judas Priest's (Nosradamus)
Iced Earth, as I've discorved them, seem to be in top form, and I for one highly recommend this release as well as Glorious Burden.
My advice for those of you who were disappointed with this: Don't have a favorite band, you will always be disappointed, just have a favorite genre and cherry pick the best of the best, and before you know it you will have a collection of music so awesome, that no matter which one you pick out to play you will have a smile on your face.
on October 23, 2007
wow... I never heard of this band before. I am a Queensryche and Savatage fan and got this recommended to me by amazon and noticed that tim ripper owens was on it so I decided to check it out and boy was I surprised. with apologies to Tool / A Perfect Circle / Sevendust this album is in my opinion is THE BEST hard rock / metal album I've heard since I can't even remember... maybe as far back as Metallica's black album. I'm so excited because I had pretty much resigned myself to listening to Wolfmother if I wanted to hear something new and hard and good again. This band kicks buttocks so hard that it leaves a footprint and I can almost taste it's bootlaces in the back of my throat. I went out and bought the greatest hits album and alive in athens and the glorious burden and can't wait to give those a try as soon as I listen to this album again!!! If you're a fan of Savatage, Metallica, Queensryche, Dio, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, King Diamond, etc. and feel like somethinig is missing in your life because you haven't heard any new music this century that speaks to you, then I HIGHLY RECOMMEND GETTING THIS.
on September 10, 2007
This album, right from the beginning, feels like it belongs no other place than within the Iced Earth catalog. Jon Schaffer clearly poured his heart and soul into creating this album and every second of it shows. The time it took to create this album was completely worth waiting for. The guitar work is exactly what Iced Earth fans have come to expect from this band. The music truly fits with the lyrics, which are both entertaining and very well written. The story is one that actually makes you want to take the time to understand it. As if the single Ten Thousand Strong was not good enough already, when heard along with the rest of the album in its proper order, becomes so much better than it ever was before. Tim Owens' vocals are top notch, there are quite a few interesting ways in which they have been layered and thus give things a very fresh sound. The places in which these effects are done have been picked extremely well so that the proper lines are given the emphasis they deserve. The drumming on this album is very solid and easily stands out as one of the better features of this album. It makes me wish Brent Smedley had played on every previous album as well.
I expect there to be a large number of people who won't even give this album the chance it deserves simply because Matt Barlow is not singing on it. However I think that anyone who honestly gives this album a listen from start to finish will come to the conclusion that it is easily one of the better albums to come from this band since its beginning, if not the best. I have very high hopes for its sequel.
on March 24, 2008
Like many Iced Earth fans i got into the band at the time of _Something Wicked This Way Comes_ and impatiently awaited the full concept album for years and years. i was a little leery after _The Glorious Burden_, which is an unbalanced album, largely because i was rather unappreciative of the vocals. The Ripper's vox were sometimes really great, and sometimes really cheesy. Now that the first part of the concept, _Framing Armageddon_, is out, so what is the final judgment? Awesome and worth the wait!
This is probably the best all-round album since _Night of the Stormrider_ (interestingly, neither album has Barlow!), and it reaches the same heights as the best Iced Earth. It's definitely more on the power metal side, more so than _Horror Show_ and _The Glorious Burden_, but despite its subject matter _Framing Armageddon_ avoids the cheese Iced Earth often gets caught with. More than anything Schaffer here appears to have emulated Hansi's approach to vocals in Blind Guardian - HUGE. Choruses of such grandeur, melody, and vocal multitude that only Blind Guardian compares in metal. As much emphasis as there is on the army-of-vocals choruses, Tim Owens' vocals themselves really should be emphasized. They are awesome on these songs. He really is a great, versatile vocalist to whom i should have given more credit in the first place. Even with Matt Barlow's return on the forthcoming Part II, and even when he performs these songs originally by Owens, the goodness of the original performance will always be valued. The atmospheric interludes, lots of stuff from violent synth'd battle sounds and haunting passages arranged for acoustic guitars and obscure, worldly percussion instruments.
This is perhaps the least Iced Earth sounding album Iced Earth has done, for better or worse. The focus here is definitely a specific vision that has less of Schaffer's individual personality and is more its own thing. Personally i think it is very successful. The beginning is awesome with the epic, mood-setting "Something Wicked Part I". The middle is full of good fast and mid-tempo power metal tracks like "Setian Massacre", "Ten Thousand Strong", "Order of the Rose", "Retribution Through the Ages", "Infiltrate and Assimilate" - quite Blind Guardian-esque in my opinion, and other stuff like the prog-metal-ish "Domino Decree", the Floydian first half of "The Clouding", and the brutal gnashing of "Framing Armageddon". All the songs are very individual sounding and evocative. The album also has an incredible finale ("When Stars Collide"), a slow, dire monster with massive choral presence, more foreboding than almost any finale. The final instrumental piece "Awakening" closes the album on the softer note, and really...if i am permitted to nitpick, this was Schaffer's only mistake. The final note of "When Stars Collide" leaves the listener with a very heavy sense of foreboding and dread, and provides for the ultimate cliffhanger while we wait for pt. 2. "Awakening" is fine and pleasant, but it might detract from the ending. i dunno.
Final note: as one other reviewer wisely notes, "his CD should be reevaluated once the sequel comes out." i completely agree, and think it will probably be even better when joined by its second half. Can't wait!
on October 19, 2007
For as long as I've been listening (since Burnt Offerings) Iced Earth, and moreover Jon Schaffer, have never let me down. I remember the excitement of buying Dark Saga, Something Wicked, and even Horror Show. And then I wore my cd player out listening to them over and over (Sure, Horror Show didn't have the staying power of those before it but I still loved it when I first heard it). There was some trepidation over Glorious Burden, because Matt left, but those doubts were washed away by the absolute awesomeness of one Tim Owens. Burden now stands behind only the mighty Stormrider and Something Wicked as my favorite Iced Earth album. So it was with GREAT expectations that I bought Framing Armageddon and experienced something I never had before with Iced Earth... disappointment. Framing is not a bad album, it's just not a great album. And when I think of Iced Earth, I think great. Ten Thousand Strong is the only classic I.E. on the album. I think The Clouding is a great new sound for the band and there a couple of other good tracks, but overall the album is far below par for this band. Where are the classic galloping riffs? Why does Owens sound like Edith Bunker in some songs? And there are WAY too many choir vocals. Framing Armageddon just doesn't FEEL like my favorite band. Let's just hope Part II is back on track.
on December 7, 2007
listening to Iced Earth is an adventure and a treat. Former Winters Bane/Judas Priest/Beyond Fear vocalist Tim "Ripper" Owens is now the vocalist for Iced Earth. other than the vocalist, not much has changed about the music. the two instrumentals are killer, and if anybody excels at instrumentals, its these guys. if you are a listener of metal, this band is worth your time and money to pick up.
on January 7, 2009
As with all opinions, mine is based soley on my point of view. And with this CD I felt as though my POV was used more than usual. This CD is a fantastic marriage of Sci-Fi, fantasy and Heavy METAL. Being a fan of all three genre's, I find this an exciting project. For the most part I believe a Heavy Metal fan is by nature, to some degree, a Sci/fi-fantasy fan. But without an appreciation for those two genre's you may not care for it.
I am a new fan of Iced Earth (yes, I've been in a cave), and in my brief experience I feel Matt Barlow is this bands true singer. As a matter of fact, if Barlow had sung this album I more than likely would have rated it 5 stars. This is in no way a knock on Tim Owens, it's that pesky POV coming into play. I grew up with 70's/80's metal (I lost touch once everything was covered in "hairspray"), so I'm a fan of Dio, Dickenson and Halford. Hearing the vocals on "Framing Armagedon" is like listening to a mix of all three voices and styles. Though there is nothing wrong with that, it just didn't sit right with me. Don't take me wrong. Owens sounds great on this CD, but I feel he lacks the emotion that Barlow's vocals offer. It's rumored that Jon Shaffer is going to re-release this CD with Barlow. Some may find that a bit greedy, and maybe it is, but if it sounds as good as I believe it will and I enjoy it as much as I believe I will, than I'll but it.
The theme for this concept album is outstandingly fresh and imaginative. Jon Shaffer's rythym guitar-work and lyrics make up for the lack of the "twin lead guitar" sound this style of metal normally uses, though there is still some nice guitar solo's to be heard. It isn't quite as melodic as earlier I.E. work (The Dark Saga), but I still recommened it.