I avoided purchasing this album for years due to the fact that Gene Adam was my least favorite Iced Earth vocalist, preferring to listen to the Days of Purgatory and Live versions of these songs with Matt Barlow on vocals instead. Finally, I decided to go ahead and buy it just for the sake of completing my collection of Iced Earth. I am really glad that I did. It had been a long time since I had listened to these original versions, and hearing them again was like hearing them for the first time. This album is a classic. The songs are vibrant and alive with a rawness that has long since been refined by John Schaffer (probably a little too much so). The unconventional arrangements on this album really stand out compared to the much more conventional song writing that has been adopted in later years. That is not a negative criticism because I love all of their albums, just an observation. Although Gene Adam will never be Matt Barlow or Stu Block or Tim Owens, I have come to realize that he did a fine job on this album, infusing it with a level of 80's thrashiness not prevalent on later albums. All in all, this is a classic metal album that holds its own in the Iced Earth catalog.
This cd is one of my favs from iced earth! Yes i know it's not barlow or Ripper but its just as good. I don't know why most people really don't like his voice. i think it's cool! when i first heard the original version i honestly thought it was a young barlow. He sounds younger and more reckless which i think is a very cool sound for that time. but yea whatever.. love it or hate it.. just give it a try with an open mind you'll see how awesome it is.
This is Iced Earth's most solid release, showcasing Schaffer's talent at the early stages of the band before everything became centered around Barlow. If you want to hear a great mix of thrash and power metal riffs and solos, this is the album for you. If you'd rather hear Barlow's melodramatic singing, then get one of the later albums.
Schaffer is purely and simply a thrash guitarist, and this album shows off his talent. The opener is reminiscent of early Slayer, later Death, with some Maiden-like hooks and solos. The singing is terrible. I may have to pick up the album where Barlow is singing some of the tracks off this album, but seeing as the music was written with Adam in mind...I figured I'd start here. But "Iced Earth" is not the best song on this album, and is, as another reviewer agrees, a bit of a let down as the song the band is named after.
However, all the other songs are amazing in terms of the guitar-work. The singing, again, is horrible (the best tracks are probably the two instrumentals, "Solitude," and "Funeral." John Greely was definitely a step in the right direction.
What makes this album worthy of the title of "best album" is the fact that there is ABSOLUTELY NO FILLER. This surprises me, because Iced Earth tends to enjoy putting the listener through as much filler as anyone can bear. And when they don't, the albums have been somewhat lackluster in terms of the guitar-work (I think Barlow pushed Schaffer to the side when he joined...you hear a lot more creativity in the guitar on the first three albums).
This is a solid release for fans of thrash and power metal, and the most enjoyable album by Iced Earth. All the songs are good or great if you can get past the average vocals (the singer actually does a good job at the opening of "Life and Death," so I hesitate to call him absolutely terrible). But if it takes this kind of vocalist to allow Schaffer free reign, then so be it. Great album.