without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
When I first heard this yesterday, I was very confused and my opinion changed. Now that I've sat straight through no less than 20-30 listens, my opinion has settled and thus, a review is in place.
I know song-by-songs are frowned upon, but it's a single goddamnit.
My biggest problem with it is it sounds like Ripper hardly even tries. He doesn't sound bad... it's just... you know it would sound so much better with Barlow. I know he can sound a hell of a lot better than this and on TGB, but he doesn't. Secondly, he puts no feeling into it. Maybe because it's not "his" music. 'Cause man, you hear his performances with Iced Earth and then listen to Beyond Fear, it's a completely different singer. He sounds like he gives a damn about Beyond Fear. Hell, I've heard his live performances with Iced Earth and he sounded pretty fucking psyched about that! There was plenty of emotion and quality, and this was on a bootleg mind you. So the vocals have been cleared up: They sure as hell aren't Barlow, and they aren't even close to Ripper's full potential. They aren't anywhere near Barlow's quality on any part of this disc. They are emotionless. There is no need to further mention the vocals. Just keep what I said in mind and if you find yourself wondering, "How are the vocals?" then just scroll up and read again.
Ten Thousand Strong: Hmm... It's just filler. It's got a so-so riff, uninspiring vocals, no solo, unmemorable chorus. A good shriek at the beginning and the end is it's best quality. That, and it's not too long. The song is by no means bad, it's just not the kind of thing to be expected of a single. Though, I suppose most people will want this for the Trilogy anyway. 1 thumb up, 1 thumb down.
The Prophecy: Oooh... I like the intro! I really like the new atmostphere this one has. It's still familiar, but different enough for me to thoroughly enjoy. I might even go as far as saying it's better. At 2:42 comes that nifty little bass solo aaaaaanndd... the... riffs? AWWW SHIT, SCHAFFER FINALLY FUCKED UP. Downtuned? Sure, sweet. Same riff? Yeeeaa... Same rythm? Yes... so, what's the problem? Staccato/muting. The riffs sound totally hollow because they aren't full and drawn out like before. Rather than dum buh-duh-bum, they go do bo-do-bo. Very disappointing. Oh well... that's over... The solo section was pretty sweet. The end, like the intro, is pretty cool and new. Well... A great start and a great finish--with some unsettling material in between. 1 1/2 thumbs up.
The Birth of the Wicked: This one is pretty much the same as the original. The biggest difference is its downtuned a tiny bit, and something (though I have no idea what) just feels better about this one to me. I was never a big fan of the original version (t'was my least favorite of the trilogy--vocals, lyrics, and music), but I really like this one a lot. Once again, the solo I enjoy more than the original. This song is a winner for me. Kudos to Schaffer. 2 thumbs up.
The Coming Curse: Remember that awesome, creepy, atmostpheric piano intro from the original? It's gone. Yeah, bullshit, I know. Remember that horrible riffing technique that Schaffer decided to add to the mix during the gallop section of The Prophecy? That bastard is back and it really gay'd this song to hell. What was once one of the most ballcrushing riffs ever to be written by Schaffer and gang is now a shadow of it's former self. Now, had I never heard the original trilogy, I'd probably think this riff was pretty badass, but I have, and it sucks now. Same rythm, same notes (albeit downtuned), but also the same bullshit. Weak. Oh here comes another redone über-badass solo. At least that's one part where Schaffer really nailed this single--solos. I like all of them more than the originals. Now... The slower crushing part before the chants and the most epic line, "I AM YOUR ANTIIIII CHRIIIIIIIST!!!" this is pretty much the same: Nothing wrong here. Now the "Forged in the sacred flames..." part: More atmospheric. Eastern instruments used, sounds pretty sweet. The chants just arrived: Much more prominent. Now the climactic "I am your anti-christ...": TOO LOW IN THE MIX. Wow... Ripper just isn't trying. I sing along to this song a lot, and I can honestly say that I do a much better job than THAT. Pathetic. 2 1/2 - 3 thumbs down.
So... that's it. Final verdict: Somewhat promising. One song is filler, and filler tells us nothing except that Schaffer is still writing music--nothing else. The trilogy: Some of it stomps ass over the old stuff, some of it eats the shit of the old stuff, some of it isn't any better or worse. One song is 2/3 better, 1/3 worse. One song is better. One song is 4/5 worse, 1/5 the same. Solos are all better IMO. Vocals are pretty much never better.
So if there was so much bad, why not a lower score and why do I keep listening to it? Well... I dunno. I guess I like the new stuff more than I give credit for.
[Score reduced to 70 following re-evaluation of rating system.]