Overture Of The Wicked Single
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|1. Ten Thousand Strong 3:53 - Iced Earth|
|2. Something Wicked Trilogy: Prophecy / Birth Of The Wicked / The Coming Curse 18:31 - Iced Earth|
America’s most successful pure Heavy Metal band has returned with the kickoff for their most ambitious project to date! Iced Earth have long been known as the champions of American Metal and have consistently delivered absolute quality for their legions of fans. Overture Of The Wicked is the opening salvo in their forthcoming two-part series that continues their famed Something Wicked This Way Comes series. The Overture Of The Wicked CDS contains a brand new song along with a re-recording of some of the Something Wicked… material. The first shot has been fired and Iced Earth is back!
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As for the music, it's much darker (less melodic) than the 1998 version of the band's first original epic. The rhythm guitar is down-tuned, and several of the lead harmonies are played at lower pitches to make the sound more ominous. Here we have a slightly extended remake - the trilogy clocks in at a minute or two shorter than the original - but the 4-minute "Ten Thousand Strong" kicks off the new edition as a prelude to the "Set vs. humanity" story. I don't want to give away much detail about the revisited material, so I'll mainly give a teaser about the opener. It's no big departure from most of their songs: it starts with an aggressive riff and pounding drums, eases up a bit between verses and during the chorus, and there's no guitar solo but Owens overlaps the background vocals with fragments of the chorus to create some interesting harmonies.
The drum work is particularly worth mentioning because Brent Smedley returns to execute stunning, machine-precision bass drum synchronization with Jon Schaffer's jackhammer-speed guitar riffs, very reminiscent of Fear Factory. This is done throughout the trilogy, whereas Smedley kept it simple in '98 with a steady (even monotonous) double-bass pattern of eighth notes. If you didn't check the liner notes, you'd think Richard Christy was still around for such perfect, beastly timekeeping. Also, the sound quality is much improved so the drums come through loud and clear this time.
The last thing to note is the addition of some exotic vocal lines (male and female) that give the final track a Middle-Eastern feel, replacing the Gregorian chant-style chorus that concludes the initial trilogy. This alteration certainly goes with the Egyptian artwork on the cover (Set's ankh), as well as that in the "Something Wicked" booklet (animal hieroglyphics, obelisks, pyramids, the Sphinx and so on).
Reflecting on the band's most advanced songwriting, "Dante's Inferno" condensed the literary masterpiece into 16 breathtaking minutes, with astonishing tempo and mood changes to signify the passage through each circle of Hell, not to mention vivid visual cues of a 185-page work (by my copy). I don't know if anything else they ever write can be as cool as that. "The Suffering" did a terrific job of scaling down the Spawn comic book a year before the movie was released, although "A Question of Heaven" is by far my favorite of that grouping. Then, after "Wicked," there was "Gettysburg," which, as an American and a major history buff, leaves me in stunned silence every time.
So while I await the completion of the two-part work Schaffer's been talking about, after hearing this three or four times I can't say I've been blown away, but (except vocally) it's leaner, meaner, tighter and pretty damn good - definitely something all IE fans should have to chart the band's evolution over the last 10 years.
I see only the most ardent IE fan being completely satisfied with this. Everyone else buy at your own risk.
This is only four songs on a single, and only one of them is new. The new song "Ten Thousand Strong" is great. It bears traces of old Iced Earth without being the repetitive.
The other three tracks are not re-recordings, but new versions of the "Something Wicked..." trilogy at the end of "Something Wicked This Way Comes", "Prophecy", "Birth of the Wicked", and "The Coming Curse"
I don't mind having Tim Owens sing over songs that were originally done by Matt Barlow. But they completely RE-DID these songs! They sound very little, if anything like the originals. I am sort of a music traditionalist by nature. Cover songs don't appeal to me as much as originals, re-recorded albums are never better than originals unless it's an unchanged remastering.
It's not just the lack of Barlow's deeper, more husky voice in these songs, it's a completely new guitar, bass, and drum lines used. The rhythms are done at different speeds, the moods are changed. Where once "Prophecy" was a darkly moody, brooding song, it's now something resembling generic "demonic" metal.
I look forward to the new Iced Earth album. I love Iced Earth, and if Schaffer continues to get better with age like his previous albums, I will love it. What I do NOT like is the "rewriting of history" so to speak, the re-writing of these three classic songs of the "Wicked" trilogy. Please... if you don't want Barlow's voice on them, just record Owens over the song as it was! Don't totally rewrite the rhthyms, tempos, moods, etc! It ruins it for traditionalists who have stuck with IE through the ages.