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There was no reason for Iced Earth to re-record material that was already well done on their earlier albums. Fans of the new singer, Matt Barlow, prefer his voice on the tracks as opposed to the old singers, but why did Iced Earth re-record an entire two disc set? Isn't the live performance the place to hear the new singer's take on the old songs? What if every band did this when they hired a new vocalist? We'd have hundreds of unnecessary albums stealing attention from the originals. Annihilator would have an extra half dozen albums alone. The entire concept of releasing this CD is incredibly stupid and I'd have to conclude there was some major lapses in judgment over at Century Media to let this project get approved.
And that's just the concept. The actual result turned out pretty well musically and fans of Matt Barlow probably love this. I personally think Barlow is Iced Earth's worst singer, not so much on his own faults, but because the other guys were better. He does a good job with the stuff from Stormrider, but he almost ruins the tracks from the self-titled album. A lot of people seem to dislike the band's first singer, but he had the most unique voice of all of them, primarily due to his killer falsetto. Barlow's voice just doesn't measure up, despite the fact that he's the better 'singer.' His voice just isn't metal enough to pull off the classics.
This album's high points are the inclusion of songs that haven't been done since Enter the Realm (the new version of "Nightmares" is awesome) and the rare track "Winter Nights." The album's low point is the new lyrics and altered music of "Written on the Walls", now entitled "Cast in Stone." I liked the original a lot better. In fact, don't bother with this release at all, unless you're an Iced Earth die hard. Having their first two albums is more than sufficient enough to make up for not owning this.