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a merely decent album - 83%

Guardian_disciple, June 28th, 2013

Many people tend to talk about the Night of the Stormrider as a masterpiece, a unique classic in Iced Earth's discography. Well, when you listen to songs like Travel in Stygian or Angel's Holocaust, you definitely believe that the rest of this album has to be as awesome, dramatic and entirely METAL as these two.

After reading some of the reviews here and buying the album, I expected not only a good, but a great album. Sadly, I was disappointed heavily. Yes, the mentioned songs, accompanied by the galloping madness of Stormrider and the diversity of The Path I Choose, are outstanding pieces of music. Schaffer's playing ranges between fast and slow, dissonant, evil riffing and beautiful melodies. You can really feel the dark and apocalyptic atmosphere the Stormrider travels through. You can feel his pain, his anger, his desperation. And Travel in Stygian, one of the mightiest and most evil songs ever, really paints the picture of a lonely pilgrim that travels into the otherworldly, burning lands behind the river Styx. John Greely's vocals are also pretty good and even reminds me of Stu Block in a way. He pulls off some very wicked high screams and his mid-range is astonishingly profound in some verses. If the album consisted of only these songs, it would deserve a rating of at least 95%. What I did not expect were the many fillers on The Night of the Stormrider.

Mystical End is just forgettable waves of sound. Don't get me wrong, it's not that this song is all too calm. In fact, I like ballads if they are good, but Mystical End is giving me nothing but melodies that I can't remember and if I do, they are really annoying. There is no good riffing at all, the vocals are strange and the whole song seems to consist of parts that do not fit together.

Desert Rain could have been so much more. The intro is one of my favourite parts of this album: solemn, beautiful, and deeply melancholic, but after Schaffer pulls of a great variation of the intro, the quality just drops. The verses consist of weird riffing and boring vocals. Only the chorus saves the song from being a huge disappointment. While not being exceedingly great, it is at least decent.

Pure Evil is also wasted amount of time for most of its length. Schaffer even manages to rip off his own songs on one single album - the verses of Pure Evil sound as if Schaffer decided to take a superb riff from Travel in Stygian and just made the vocals worse in order to not to let it sound like a total clone. The chorus, while featuring some girly screams of John Greely, has underlying dissonant, dark, and devastating riffing. That's the best thing to say about Pure Evil.

Nevertheless, the Night of the Stormrider is a good addition to anyone's discography. Don't expect a masterpiece, that is something Schaffer can't afford. Every album of his has got its fillers and boring parts. That's my personal problem with him: while I really LOVE single songs by him, I cannot truely love his albums. But if you like moody, dark, and complex metal with some surprisingly good lyrics, go buy this album since the half of the album is very great.