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The only obvious way to review this is in two parts.
The first part of the review clearly has to be on new song “I Walk Alone”. This is a bouncy mid-tempo number that is sure to get the mosh pits going. It’s unbelievably catchy in the chorus, and the verses are heavy with a galloping B-flat power chord being the central basis of the riff, and there is a bombastic bridge after the second chorus. What about Matt Barlow’s vocals? They are truly fantastic. Matt Barlow is more than ready to claim his place as one of the world’s great rock vocalists. He is howling in a way that only he can.
The second part of this review is the comparison between Matt Barlow and the recently-departed Tim “Ripper” Owens. Of course, we all know the songs are fantastic; otherwise they wouldn’t have rerecorded them.
Let me first start out by commending Owens. He has been put in a couple of impossible spots in replacing Rob Halford and then Matt Barlow. He’s done a commendable job over the years, and he is a fine vocalist. The songs that Iced Earth recorded with Owens at the helm sound fantastic. After all, not just anybody could come in and take the place of a singer like Matt Barlow.
Now for the real part of the review: the comparison. The way I listened to this was to first listen to the Owens version of a given song from “Framing Armageddon”, and then follow it up with the Barlow re-recording from this EP. That seems to me to be the only fair way to review the re-recordings.
With that established, it becomes very clear very quickly that, while Tim Owens is a capable vocalist, he is no Matt Barlow. Matt Barlow has an emotion, passion, and bombast in his voice that Owens just cannot, for whatever reason, replicate within the confines of Iced Earth. As I said before, Matt Barlow is one of the best rock voices in the world, and this sort of comparison makes it all the more clear.
The only reason that my score for this wasn’t higher was because of the content. There is only one new song that would later appear on “The Crucible of Man” and three re-recordings. There is really nothing noteworthy about that, other than a bit of a minor cash grab to capitalize on the return of Barlow. For this, I would have rather the re-recordings be included as bonuses on “The Crucible of Man” album.
People seem to not see much purpose for this release because it is re-recordings of existing and very recent songs with no change other than a different singer. While there might be something to this in itself, the fact that part of a concept series was performed with a radically different sounding vocalist should not be ignored. Much as was the case when previous vocalist Tim Owens re-recorded material from the “Something Wicked This Way Comes” release, a taste of what an earlier chapter in any epic would sound like with a replacement singer eases what is obviously a large sound transition.
It can not be stressed enough that Matt Barlow, although near equally competent at wailing in the upper vocal stratosphere, sounds absolutely nothing like Owens. The comparison to Paul Stanley that I often make doesn’t so much apply to a stylistic similarity between the Kiss front man and Barlow, but with the seemingly identical tendency of bellowing out every single note like an attempt to entertain an arena of fans with no PA system. Even during the quietest section of “The Clouding”, the vocal delivery fills up your ears with a near overdose of testosterone injected heaviness. The downside to this is that Barlow will often dwarf what is going on around him, not to mention it loses its effect after prolonged listening.
The new song from the upcoming full length album “The Crucible of Man” is thematically a dead ringer for the previous part of this saga, although it doesn’t stand as a great indicator for the riff tendencies of the up coming release. It stays pretty much in mid-tempo land and relies mostly on atmosphere; groove oriented riffing, and a pretty solid vocal delivery. Barlow isn’t pushing his high range very much here, unlike the two re-recorded songs, which is one area where the full length may not prove very interesting as the vocal delivery carried most of the non-speed metal songs on “Framing Armageddon”.
While most may say this is a pointless release, which was also said by some about “Overture of the Wicked”, the primary point of any release is the enjoyment factor and this consistently delivers. Although I personally prefer Owens to Barlow, it is good to see that Barlow has opted not to follow through on his plans to dignify the corrupt US government with his services as a police officer and has freed himself from the endless media propaganda commanding mindless patriotism which once controlled the entire country, not to mention encouraged some extremely bad propaganda music. But regardless, if you liked “Something Wicked this Way Comes”, this is basically how this listens.
Later submitted to (www.metal-observer.com) on September 11, 2008.
Matt Barlow's triumphant return, what most fans have been waiting for, what we've been dreaming of for ages now. His return is summed up with something equivalent to that of the revenge that took place in that fucked up movie, Hostel. When at the end, that prick was owned on the toilet. Yeah, when you saw that part you were yelling, "Hell yeah!", and this is the same effect.
Jon Schaffer has recruited Matt Barlow back and with the sacking of Tim Owens, Barlow has come back on the single song I Walk Alone, as well as two Schaffer-famous re-recordings of previous material sung by a different vocalist, this time Owens on Framing Armageddon. We all know Tim Owens and a lot of people probably think this was a bad idea getting rid of him so fast and abruptly, while I prefer Barlow, it's a shame to see Ripper leave so soon and best of luck to him, I love his vocal performance on The Glorious Burden especially. So continuing now with the ginger metal god, Iced Earth gives us a treat from the next album from the Something Wicked theme, The Crucible of Man, with this single, I Walk Among You.
Starting with I Walk Alone, throughout the song I have noticed the awesome drumming, with just an overall great sound production-wise, reminding me of some mid-era work like Something Wicked This Way Comes or Horror Show most. The overall production as well reminds me of some late era-Barlow work minus the guitar approach which brings an overall interesting sound here; the inclusion of Barlow's singing, the drumming (thanks to Brent Smedley good to see him back), harkens the semi-olden days of Iced Earth but the guitar work here whilst being good, is more along the lines of the sound of mid-tempo work found on The Glorious Burden and Framing Armageddon, which is the biggest complaint of the last two albums.
Here on the newest song, the song is a mid-tempo, hard-striking riff attack and powerful drum slamming song. Barlow doesn't even need to be mentioned, he hasn't lost his touch, he's still got it all and has the power, the vigor, the emotion, and most important he still commands your ear and takes over the sound like he should. Why? Because he's MATT FUCKING BARLOW! The chorus here on the newest song is great, lyrical theme still about mankind's fall, mankind's hypocrisy and such, and Barlow singing this all again brings me chills reminding me of the glory days of Something Wicked This Way Comes. The vocal layering is kept to a slight minimum, only in the chorus does it appear with different vocal layering of sentences, whispering and such but still proving he has one of the best voices in metal.
The re-recordings here aren't really necessary, more of just Schaffer's way of showing how he is never really happy with who does what or who the hell knows. As much as I will always love Jon Schaffer, I wonder what his motives are for all the re-recordings. Honestly I don't care, because most of the time I enjoyed all the attempts, with Barlow on Days of Purgatory and Owens of Overture of the Wicked. I think for the most part, it is showing off the singing ability of the vocalist and letting the fans get more of a taste of the new vocalist and getting everyone pumped for the new album while at the same time not giving away too many 'new' songs, like having only one actual new song, so it makes some sense to me. It doesn't matter who is better, that's not the point, it's just showing more of Barlow's vocal ability. He does a fine job on Setian Massacre and The Clouding, with the former being one of the faster numbers on Framing Armageddon and where Ripper shined, as Barlow does the same. The Clouding is better for Barlow, allowing himself to show he's still got all his power, especially since it's a slower and more drawn out song with him showing his emotional voice.
I can't really find much that is 'weak' on this single. I Walk Alone is a good song, but I can tell it won't be one of the better songs on The Crucible of Man, at least I hope not. Not that it would be a bad thing, it's just one of those songs you can tell is 'good' but not one of the 'better' songs on the album. I suppose it'll be something similar to Frankenstein and the Frankenstein single that was released before Horror Show because Frankenstein is a great song, but by no means is the best on the album.
People doubt Jon Schaffer's ability to write inspirational and creative riffs or songs in general, which I fully disagree with. Framing Armageddon was a good outing but was by far the weakest Iced Earth album to date, so with this recent bringing back of Matt Barlow, I have much faith in the overall sound of The Crucible of Man. The single here is an enjoyable and fun mid-tempo sing-along song that will probably be one of the 'good' songs on the newest album. Iced Earth once again never let me down and I will be highly anticipating this release and will buy it like I have bought everything else. Matt Barlow is back, praise the metal gods, for another has joined their ranks once again!
For Iced Earth fans who think any record without Matt Barlow on it is not worth hearing, this EP is probably worth its weight in gold. For people who enjoyed Tim "Ripper" Owens' work more, it's probably not worth buying. People who enjoy both eras of Iced Earth migh want to check this out, but with caution. I belong in the last group, and I have mixed emotions about it.
The real meat of this EP is of course the new track, I Walk Alone. That's where Matt's voice really shines through. Ripper could have sung the song pretty well, but it's so suited to Matt's voice that I have a suspicion Schaffer altered it after Matt rejoined the band. The songs were originally written for Ripper, after all. But regardless of who's singing, it's still an excellent song and a worthy successor to Framing Armageddon; I just hope it accurately shows what the next album will be like.
The next three tracks are re-recordings of some of the best songs on Framing Armageddon with Matt on vocals (though the instrumentation isn't changed at all, save in production). The first one is Setian Massacre, and with Matt, the song lives up to its name. Sadly, Matt really massacres the song, and it was definitely better with Ripper. Matt just doesn't have quite the high range that Ripper did and it's these songs with high notes where Ripper beats Matt hands down. Matt doesn't even properly hit the highest notes in the three opening screams. So 1-0 for Ripper, I'm afraid. Good thing Matt didn't try to do Ten Thousand Strong or Framing Armageddon, though.
I bought the physical CD as well as the extra track from iTunes, A Charge to Keep. This one I have more mixed feelings for. Matt puts more emotion into the verses, but Ripper again beats Matt in the chorus. It's again a matter of Matt's emotion and lower range versus Ripper's high notes. And Matt's voice doesn't fit layered vocals nearly as well as Ripper's. I'm gonna call this one a tie.
The last one, The Clouding, is the longest track, and fortunately, it is also the one where Matt's voice shines. Slow, emotional songs à la "A Question of Heaven" are where Matt excels, and this is one of those songs. Even in the last four minutes, which is the part with the heavy riffing, Matt beats Ripper, but only when he sings alone. His voice, again, doesn't suit the layered vocals. However, this song is definitely the best of the remixes, and the change of singer turns a good song to a great song.
Overall, this EP really isn't worth it for the re-recordings alone, unlike the last EP, "Overture of the Wicked", where the re-recordings of the Something Wicked trilogy was really an interesting change. There, the whole songs were replayed and re-recorded, and even the whole vocal textures were changed, which meant that the songs sounded natural for Tim, instead of just Ripper trying to sing Matt's notes. That is not the case on "I Walk Among You", where Matt is just trying to sing the same notes as Ripper and fails miserably in most cases. It was still interesting to hear how Barlow fared, however.
However, the new song is definitely strong, just like Ten Thousand Strong was on the last EP. It's the real content of the EP, and the re-recordings are just bonus. And ultimately, it did what it was supposed to do: made me anticipate The Crucible of Man even more.
So, what’s happened over the past year? Matt Barlow has replaced Tim Owens, who was released in an odd way, via e-mail. If you like it or not, Barlow is back and he sounds better than ever. What does he bring to the table on this EP?
Well, the single, “I Walk Alone”, is a damn good track. The vocals are refreshing performed amazingly. If you bought this release, this is probably the main reason for getting it. Why? The unnecessary re-recordings of “Setian Massacre” and “The Clouding” aren’t anything spectacular. I mean some haven’t even gotten use to the original recordings considering they came out only a year ago!
Barlow’s performance on “Setian Massacre” isn’t anything mind blowing, actually, the original performance is better. “The Clouding” is a much better outing than the track before; I love the vocal work. I would talk about the performance from Schaffer and company for these two songs, but it’s exactly the same on the recordings from “Framing Armageddon.” So, I’m not going to.
Overall, the single “I Walk Alone” is great and this piece is worth getting because of it. The re-recordings aren’t horrible, but not really needed.
So here it is, the first new Iced Earth material with returning long-time vocalist Matt Barlow, so is it any good, well the lead song is obviously newie ‘I Walk Alone’, the first glimpse of the forthcoming album ‘The Crucible of Man’, well basically it’s a typical Iced Earth mid-paced stomper, it’s pretty damn good in fact, it just takes a few listens to get into it, and then it won’t leave your head, especially the catchy chorus. Matt does a great job, using his lower range to great effect. The guitar riffs are fairly derivative for Iced Earth but do give a great staccato groove to the song. There is no lead solo but there are some nice keyboard touches which add to the atmosphere, perhaps I’m a little disappointed as I was expecting something a little faster and more aggressive, I’m sure ‘I Walk Alone’ fits in well within the whole album concept but for a single I think something with a little bit more punch and impact would have been a better choice.
So what about the much maligned re-recorded tracks? Musically if you’ve heard the originals then there is not much new to report here. They use the same music tracks that were used on ‘Framing Armageddon’ but now the re-mix and re-mastering job does give a little more punch and clarity to the guitars. No the biggest change is obviously the vocals, and it’s very much whether you prefer Matt or Tim’s vocals. What can I say, if you’re a fan of Matt then I think you’ll dig these versions, in my opinion he adds greater power and emotion, especially on the epic ‘The Clouding’. I think Tim always struggled a little with the more emotional material but if you prefer the higher more soaring and perhaps more aggressive vocals of Tim, then stick to the originals.
I’m very much in the minority here, but I’m glad that Matt Barlow has re-recorded some of the ‘Framing Armageddon’ tracks; in fact I hope he re-records them all! In my humble opinion, Matt Barlow IS the voice of Iced Earth, I know people use the ‘it’s ripping the fans off, releasing previous material with different vocals’ argument, but I don’t agree with that; if you don’t like it, then don’t buy it! If you like the originals best, then stick with them!
My only major gripe is that the song ‘A Charge to Keep’ is only available as an itunes exclusive! Why? It just seems pointless!
That gripe aside, all in all a promising start to the next Ice Earth chapter. Bring on ‘Something Wicked part II’!
Iced Earth is back with Matt Barlow once again, and while I can understand the reasoning behind the move to release a 3-track EP, especially with Something Wicked Part II looming on the horizon, I have to question whether this release is truly necessary.
First of all, the release is comprised of 3 songs - 1 original and 2 re-worked tunes from their previous album, Framing Armageddon. The re-working is subtle, with the biggest alterations being in the vocal department. In my opinion, Framing Armageddon was one of the top 3 best albums of 2007, so I was highly interested in getting the EP. The 2 re-mixed tracks, to say it simply, were better with Tim "Ripper" Owens on vocals. He has more range than Matt Barlow and the vocal harmonies he laid down soared higher and were more memorable.
Don't get me wrong: As a big fan of Framing Armageddon, it's a pleasure to hear these songs faithfully re-done with a competent vocalist performing on them. But the real highlight of this album is not the tracks which re-visit the past, but the new, original song, "I Walk Alone." Here we won't find ourselves comparing Matt Barlow to Tim Owens, which benefits Barlow tremendously. I Walk Alone is a very catchy song with a good chorus and could easily be a single on the new album. It's similar to the way Iced Earth released "Ten Thousand Strong" on an EP in 2007, prior to releasing the Framing Armageddon album.
Bottom line: If you're a diehard Iced Earth fan, post-Halford Judas Priest lover, or you simply enjoyed Framing Armageddon, you're going to want to hear this new release by Iced Earth.
So... this is the new single that will keep you warm until the release of the Something Wicked Part 2. The new song, I Walk Alone, is a melodic mid tempo heavy song with an excellent memorable chorus, nice lyrics and an atmospheric solo right after the second chorus. Unlike the last year's single Ten Thousand Strong, the theme song of the new single is not speedy or thrashy. Jon chose a more radio oriented song, with a steady mid-tempo pace. In my ipinion he succeeded. Matt seems to be in great form. His voice is as good as it was 10 years ago. I salute his return, although I still give unlimited credit to Tim as well.
The rest songs are quite average. I hate remastered, re-recordings with new vocals etc etc. I still prefer the originals, just like the Ten Thousand Strong single. Of course Matt does not spoil the songs, but in my opinion Tim fits better. Especially The Clouding (new version) is by far worst than the original. The chorus is not as good as the original. Matt's voice seems to fit better on The Setian Massacre though. I still do not understand why Jon must always do this. Why not including a live version of the songs with Tim singing, just to remember him (i.e. a live recording from the previous tour). Or at least an old cult live performance with Matt singing (previously unreleased).
I could rate this single 65 or 70. But I decided to rate only the new song and look forward to the new album. It looks promising.
As the sacred flames burn bright, a red-headed figure slowly emerges with a signature suffix that screams of Iced Earth: Matt Barlow. Yes my children, everyone’s favorite vocalist has finally budded into John Schaffer’s ribs once again, forging “I Walk Among You” as result; however, their reunion can be quite rocky at times. Three tunes – including Barlow’s returning piece entitled “I Walk Alone” and two re-recordings – make up this single, and only one stab comes out alive, ironically being the first preview of the final record in Schaffer’s “Something Wicked” saga. Needless to say, nobody gives a shit about two songs receiving an unneeded makeover, and nobody will find them enjoyable either; fans only want to hear “I Walk Alone,” minus extra fluff. Too bad they didn’t get the memo.
Being the only thing actually worth of anyone’s time, “I Walk Alone” is simply a classic amongst Iced Earth’s varied catalog as it properly welcomes Barlow back to his native faction without skipping anything essential. Beginning with roaring distortion, this nifty rocker soon ejaculates prime riffing in the vein of “Framing Armageddon,” as seen by its minimal technicality, yet mass power on both emotional and philosophical levels, that is. Vocally, Barlow sounds just as good when he originally entered Iced Earth ages ago; those powerful bells still ring gleefully, while his demonic growls feast eternally, just like they should. To summarize, it has an emotional feel rebounding from “The Dark Saga” while tapping the effective instrumentation of “Framing Armageddon” at an impressive altitude. That’s what the doctor ordered!
Although prevailing at first, “I Walk Among You” begins to drastically decline after that tasty slab of beefy greatness from a dreadful experiment gone wrong: Barlow’s vocal performances on “The Clouding” and “Setian Massacre,” which previously appeared on 2007’s “Framing Armageddon.” With nothing changed musically, Barlow is stuck performing Tim Owens’ vocal lines at identical melodies and tones, leaving this spellbinding singer stranded on a helpless land he was not meant to ever see; there’s simply no changes, and that truthfully damaged his recent adaptations. Thing is, Ripper and Barlow are very different, and re-recording like so can only work when vocal textures are rewritten (like Ripper’s successful version of “Something Wicked This Way Comes”) to fit the appropriate vocalist, but Schaffer must have canned the idea for whatever reason. Then again, it’s only a single trying to divide your wallet and devour your cash. Set Abominae works in mysterious ways, I suppose.
Overall, I’m not very fond of “I Walk Among You,” as it really could’ve been on par with “Overture of The Wicked” when comparing singles or other re-recordings, yet just isn’t. However, Barlow’s rebirth track is the only purpose behind this release, so it’s not like those other tunes really matter that much anyway; they’re basically identical minus a singer transfer, thus making it pretty purposeless on many levels. I guess it’s worth time and money if you collect everything Iced Earth heaves forward, but this rabid fan can only recommend hearing “I Walk Alone” elsewhere and avoid those dreadful re-recordings.
This review was written for: www.leviatan-magazine.com
Ahh, mighty Matt Barlow is back, but here is the question was it a good idea or was it bad one? I Walk Alone is a fucking epic song that seems to be on the right track, definitely gonna be good, although I wonder about Mr. Schaffer's new love of mid-paced songs. Seems since Framing Armageddon Jon has either slowed down his already static style of riffing for lengthier song arangments and got rid of the complexity that used to pour from old Iced Earth. But I Walk Alone is showing promise that the new album will be a tour-de-force with Matt back to kick some balls.
But the covers, why is Jon getting the idea that we really want to hear re-recordings of songs not even a year old yet? Is it because Matt is back or he's trying to get some money this we may never know, but lets get to those songs. Setian Massacre can really be a hard one, Matt's highs dont have the power Ripper has and can be noticed in all the high screams, so this one is down the toilet, A Charge To Keep, plain and simple Tim did it better sorry but its true and even the Matt purist assholes know this for a fact, The Clouding, Same from Framing Armageddon Matt does the first part extremley well but towards the second section he fails, Tim showed that anger and Matt doesnt.
Sorry I was hoping that Matt would have outdone Ripper on the re-recordings but they failed 3 bad songs and 1 good song doesnt make for a good weigh in. While I Walk Alone really shows some promise it still isnt enough to make part two of the Something Wicked story be as great as Framing Armageddon. Want singing from Matt thats better listen to the new Pyramaze album way better than this, It is vile and putrid its a bad omen to me.
Here is, as we who still care about Iced Earth all know, Matt Barlow's first recording back in the fold. The new song is a heavy, mid tempo, chunky meat and potatoes track. In fact, the name of the song might as well be Meat and Potatoes, because lately that is Schaffer's favorite serving for the fans. His complex arrangements of the early days are all but gone, with a few exceptions showing up on Framing Armageddon.
I will say that this song is a good returning track for Barlow, as it displays very well his lower register ( a very common critique on Owen's style of singing, which I must admit has it's truths). The problem with it, however, is the same problem that I saw in much of Framing Armageddon. That is the constant interchanging and repeating of melodies between songs. (Did anyone else shutter when they first heard the opening verse in Something Wicked part one?? "I can see it clearly now...." Oh fuck me,....again?!?)
The chorus is basically the same as the verse in Setian Massacre, which ironically is the next track on the single. It of course is sung in a lower register, and changed up a little. I am of the mind that Schaffer has been sticking to his guns a little too much, in that once he finds a melody that he likes, he beats it against our skulls so much that we, at least I, get a bit tired of it. The same thing happens all over Framing Armageddon. Now, this can be a great tool to tie in songs to each other on a concept album such as Framing Armageddon, and is used to great effect on many other concept albums from WASP to Jethro Tull. However, it is sometimes overly abused by Jon. Of course I'm sure he is completely oblivious to this. I think we would have much rather heard a new song that has no obvious melodic connection to the songs on Framing Armageddon, let alone a track that shares this EP.
That said, Barlow does deliver the goods in my opinion, and his singing keeps the song both interesting, as well as powerful. The riff work is very subtle, perhaps a tad too subtle. I saw them at the Pearl Room for Matt's return show, and when they played this one live, it was sort of boring. The riffing is a tad too basic in the verses, and in the chorus it takes a serious backseat. Of course Jon most likely intended for the song to be a showcase of Barlow's return, which it certainly succeeds in doing. I think that a little more creativity in the riffing would have been a definite plus though, as the main song's verse-chorus formula deviates only once for a brief epic interlude.
Now touching on the re-sung tracks...
I am sure I am not alone in that much of Iced Earth's fanbase is getting a little sick of these re-recordings. I mean first Days of Purgatory, then Dark Genesis, then Overture of the Wicked, and now this. Schaffer's idea of what the songs "should have sounded like" seems to change with whoever is in the band at the time of any kind of opportunity to change things. I really wish he would follow through, and rerecord (not remix) some more tracks that could actually USE it. Like much of the Burnt Offerings album, and maybe other songs from the debut.
Setian Massacre is pretty choral in the vocal department, so really there are times when I forget that it's a different vocalist. The only real noticable part is the verse. While I think Matt does the song well, his high screams are not quite as vocally agile as Rippers. So the top vocal layers are a little less pronounced. All in all I like the song no matter who is singing it, as I think both singers did a good job.
The Clouding is a mixed bag for me. I enjoy Barlow's delivery in the first half a bit more. It sounds more like an Iced Earth ballad than when Ripper does it. I didn't think Ripper was all that convincing in the ballad style, and the lyrics of this song do not really help to take the man seriously. However when the second half kicks in, Barlow is not quite as ominous as what Ripper laid down, and ends up in the former vocalist's shadow. Still a solid song, but really, I don't think it warranted a rerecording.
I haven't heard A Charge to Keep, but I would be very surprised if it was that much different than the original. That song is full of choral vocals as well (Schaffer just can't stop), and I am picturing another needless rerecording.
I enjoy this ep, because I like the songs, but I don't think it was really necessary to rerecord the three old tracks. I would have preferred maybe a Barlow version of a Glorious Burden track, and a cover song of some kind. Perhaps a cover of an old Metallica track, or a song from Priest's Painkiller era, or something awesome like that. Ah well, as Schaffer would say..." I don't care..what you think!!"
I am still a fan of this band, through all the shit flinging and lineup changes. I think Schaffer is really talented, but he really ought to think about writing some thrashier, darker stuff, and hopefully he has that in store on Part 2 of Something Wicked.
This is the first release with Matt Barlow back on vocals. And it sounds great.
"I Walk Among You" is a mid-paced but heavy single. It's got that standard Jon Schaffer choppy-verse that we all know and love combined with a stellar chorus that only Matt Barlow's deep voice could produce. It's short, and to the point, but yet it has an epic feel that Iced Earth is so good at doing. No guitar solo, but it's got a great melodic guitar part for the bridge that fits the song perfectly. The lyrics are pretty great as well.
I understand that "Setian Massacre" and "The Clouding" were already released, but they've been redone with Matt Barlow. I've never heard the originals.
"Setian Massacre" is a real fast-paced rocker with some high-pitched Barlow vocals. Double-bass drums complete the heaviness of the song. Overall good song.
"The Clouding" is good, but it's just way too long. It's one of those long epic songs that start out with clean guitars and eventually make way to a mid-paced heavy feel, sort of like "A Question of Heaven." Again, Barlow's vocals make the song what it is. The intro is just too long, and a little boring. It's a nine-minute song, but the same idea could have been conveyed in only six or seven minutes, I think. But other than that, it's not that bad.
Overall, Matt Barlow's return to Iced Earth is very promising. His vocals are spot on, and the production sounds excellent. The style of music isn't especially anything new from what Iced Earth has been doing for a long time, but it's a little more melodic now. Let's hope their next full-length is as good.
Best song: I Walk Among You