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Has It's Own Identity...Not Just a Re-Recording - 82%

darkreif, April 27th, 2007

Iced Earth finally returns to the metal scene with the much anticipated (and feared) EP, Overture of the Wicked. This time with one brand new track (Ten Thousand Strong) and 3 re-recorded tracks (The Something Wicked Trilogy). Iced Earth has been a staple of my metal listening experience throughout my metal career and I consider them to be one of my favorite bands of all time.

With that said, Overture of the Wicked is almost exactly what I expected from this EP. Reading other reviews, it seems that fans of Iced Earth have been tearing this EP down to the bone. I'm not sure what these fans were expecting on this release but I found exactly what I was looking for. Note: This review is going to vary from my normal format but since it's an EP with only one new song - work with me here.

The guitar work present on the EP is pretty standard Iced Earth material. Ten Thousand strong has a killer riff in it (although a little repetitive). There is still a quite a bit of Iron Maiden influence in the guitar and bass work. Great galloping lines are present. Granted the solo leaves something to be desired. It happens to be more or less a lot of long notes without a lot of emotion behind it (this is something I can forgive due to the guitarist problems Iced Earth has encountered in the last year). Ten Thousand Strong has some amazing lyrical work in it and Tim Owens gives exactly what I thought he would. Plenty of falsettos with an amazing scream to start off the song. Ten Thousand Strong seems to be a very average Iced Earth track and one can definitely tell its due to be a single. It may not be the best Iced Earth track ever but it definitely sparks more of an interest towards the full album coming in the end of the year.

The most controversial part of the EP is the re-recorded versions of the Something Wicked Trilogy from the Iced Earth album, Something Wicked This Way Comes. Understanding that this is supposed to be a REWORKING of the songs lends one to not be too harsh with these versions. I expected these new versions to be different I guess. If I thought they were going to be exactly the same with Tim Owens trying to do a Matt Barlow impression then I wouldn't have bothered as much. No one can really match Matt Barlow when it comes to material he helped write.

I found the new Something Wicked Trilogy to be more aggressive and less epic. Much of the orchestration has been toned down (if not taken out) and maybe it's just me but the music seems to have been picked up in speed a tad bit. The guitar work is still tight as ever (Jon Schaffer is a killer rhythm guitar player). Tim Owens seems to still be the biggest element that people bicker over and quite frankly his new more aggressive version of the lyrics seems to fit the more aggressive and less epic songs well. I never expected him to try and be Matt Barlow and I love Tim's previous work with other bands and with Iced Earth. This seems to be a very good fit for both Tim and Jon's new vision of the Trilogy.

I have a feeling that this isn't supposed to be a release that stands on its own. The re-recorded Trilogy is just a taste of what the next two albums are to bring. Instead of the epic releases everyone is going to be expecting, the next two albums are going to be aggressive and dark. I think this release is just to prepare all of the Iced Earth fans for what's next...and quite frankly this EP has got me really excited.