On this, Iced Earth's 2000 E.P., are seven tracks both well-known and -liked, as well as unheard and elsewhere unavailable. The former include three ballads: "Melancholy (Holy Martyr)" and "Watching Over Me," from the great SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES, and "I Died For You," from THE DARK SAGA. These songs are all well-known to any Iced Earth fan, and show the passionate, emotional side of the band. However, because they're so well-known, I won't get into them here.
The last track, "Colors," was supposed to have been included on their live album, ALIVE IN ATHENS, but for some reason did not make the final cut (but thankfully it is available like this!). This is a great, uber-heavy thrasher, and their performance of it is pristine.
The other three songs, however, are excellently rendered covers. Two are classic metal songs, Black Sabbath's "Electric Funeral," and Judas Priest's "The Ripper." These bands are both obvious - and traditional - influences on Iced Earth, and let me tell you now, Iced Earth's renditions ROCK.
"Electric Funeral" is well-executed, with the same chugging rhythms that came naturally to Sabbath, only far heavier here with Jon Schaffer's ultra crunches. Not to knock the great Ozzy, but Matthew Barlow's snarling wails far outdo the original singer's performance. As well, session drummer Mark Prator is, as usual, perfect. Definitely one of the best Black Sabbath covers I've ever heard.
"The Ripper" is a rip-snorting thrash piece, even before the days of thrash. The guitars shred, the drums pound away, and Christ, Barlow's VOCALS - he could replace Rob Halford any day of the week. It is kind of funny now that Iced Earth covered that song; after Halford left Judas Priest, he was replaced by Tim "Ripper" Owens; later, when Barlow left Iced Earth, Tim Owens replaced HIM. It might be kind of interesting to hear Iced Earth cover this song in concert!
Much like the TRIBUTE TO THE GODS cover album, one of the songs here is a rather surprising selection. One would think that a metal band would have all metal songs for covers, but on that album there are covers of songs from AC/DC and Blue Öyster Cult! So here it is less of a surprise that there is a cover of a Bad Company song, "Shooting Star," a heartfelt ballad about the life of a rock star. Matthew Barlow makes an excellent vocal performance, and is one of the most emotional singers I've ever heard. Larry Tarnowski's solo shines, too.
This is a great little miscellaneous collection; songs not available elsewhere are here, and are excellent. Yes, I know it's a hard-to-find import, but this is not just another E.P. that you might want to toss after a few listens. For any REAL Iced Earth fan, this is a must.