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Before hearing this, I wasn't exactly sure what to expect (especially from the brand new song), but since its Iced Earth, it's not really that hard to imagine. So where does the uncertainty come in, given the band's consistency? Well, the way Jon worded his idea of the album, he made it sound like everything was going to be very epic, atmospheric and all that jazz...which left me wondering if every song was going to be crafted as such? Well, I found myself pleasantly surprised with the new song, Ten Thousand Strong. It almost feels like a new energy has been brought to the band, even though it is still the traditional Iced Earth sound.
The vocal melodies delivered by Tim Owens are extremely catchy and full of flare, as are the lyrics. To me, it feels like Tim is much more comfortable with the band's style and has been able to evolve a bit from the last record. The second the song starts and you hear the blaring shriek of the former Judas Priest front man, you know it’s going to be a good, firm kick in the ass. Some people have complained that Owens tries too hard to imitate Rob Halford and grates nerves because it’s different from Matt Barlow, but I find myself thoroughly engrossed with Tim’s style. “And though our hearts are broken…we have to wipe the tears away…erase the human memory.” Oh yeah, this is going to rule.
The riffing is…well…its Jon Schaffer, what do you expect? Anyone who is familiar with Iced Earth knows that Schaffer has a style and he’s always going to stick with it. Don’t come into the post-Burnt Offerings material expecting to hear something completely revolutionary, because it’s not going to happen. That’s part of what I love about his playing – not being concerned about playing something ‘different’, but just finding different ways to make good heavy metal. Indeed, he does deliver good heavy metal with Ten Thousand Strong.
The song thrashes while not completely annihilating everything…no, because that would spoil the true annihilation that is to come when the full lengths comes out. This works just fine as a single – it doesn’t try to be flashy, but manages to just be a good melodic heavy metal song. It starts off heavy and then leads into harmonized parts, which really help make this a powerful and memorable song. Overall, I was very pleased.
I imagine most people would be worried about the Something Wicked remake, which is kind of understandable, given its classic status. Well, there are some significant changes present in the trilogy – there is a much thicker atmosphere in some songs, such as Prophecy. Some of the riffs are altered a bit, there is more emphasis is put on certain lead parts and the solos are much more bombastic. I’m glad that they did not just copy the whole song, as it kind of just makes it a cover song, rather than giving it a whole new identity. I’d say a major flaw of the remake is that it uses singular note stuttering just a little too much in comparison to the original, but it’s easy to overlook, because its not meant to sound identical to the original.
In conclusion – if you limit yourself strictly to the first three albums, don’t expect something along the same route; you’ll only end up disappointed. If you’re an extreme Iced Earth lover like me, this will more than satisfy you.