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Night of a Classic! - 100%

Metallian83, September 26th, 2011

Iced Earth has always been a band that's done their own thing, from the time of the self-titled release to now. They started as a progressive heavy/power/thrash metal band with their first 3 albums and then went into a more simplified, yet very crushing direction. This particular album was released in 1991, in a time where thrash metal was slowly disappearing and death metal was on the rise. Iced Earth has done something on Night of the Stormrider that contradicted everything that was going on at this time in history. This album still stands as a unique release in heavy metal and nothing has ever come before or after it that resembles it.

Let me first explain what makes Night of the Stormrider what it is. It is a concept album and is there second album. It contains 9 tracks that all flow into one big dark story line filled with sorrow, death, and destruction! The vibe of this album is perfect in the terms of it's production and song arrangement! This album also has "epic" written all over it with apocalyptic-sounding choirs and mystical acoustic passages that are close to the 1 minute mark. There are riffs upon riffs upon riffs on this album, an obvious indication where Jon Schaffer had received his title as "Riff Lord". Coming from a guitarist like myself, Jon's riffs are certainly some of the tightest and most difficult in the genre! Between the vast amounts of galloping at VERY FAST speeds is enough to feel the burn in anyone's wrist, and it never seems to let up! Listen to songs like Stormrider, Pure Evil, and Travel in Stygian and you'll see what I mean! The riffs are by far the most dominant quality of the album. The vocals are very Rob Halford-like and a major step up from the previous singer Gene Adams. The singer on this album is John Greely and like Adams, only appeared on one album. He has more variety in his style than Adams but not quite as much as Matt Barlow who began singing on their next album, Burnt Offerings. Another standout quality about this album is the lead guitarist Randy Shawver who I think is incredibly underrated! He has a style of his own and always has the perfect way to tell the albums story through his dark melodies! He, with the genius ideas of Jon Schaffer, is one of the reasons that made early Iced Earth as magical as it was!

Now I must first explain something else to everyone. Some people are under the impression that this is suppose to be a "thrash" metal album... Well don't look for something that sounds like Exodus or Forbidden, because you'll be vastly disappointed! Though the picking is very fast, usually in a galloping fashion, their really aren't mass amounts of speed picking or "thrashy" drum beats. Not that there aren't any at all, but they are very spread out through the album. This album isn't written to be brutal or fast, it has a story to convey and the parts are only written to fit it! It is almost impossible to compare this to anything else that's out there, there is no definite way to classify it. it is what it is, and it's Iced Earth at it's best!

It's time to talk about the songs. There are, and I REPEAT, are no weak points to this album! Every song maintains a certain quality that never tends to fall short of the bar Jon has set for it. You can hear how well each composition was thought out carefully with every lyric and riff constructed perfectly to move the album forward. You can feel the Stormrider's rage from the beginning Angels Holocaust all the way to Pure Evil, and then you feel the horror he feels as he regretfully accepts his fate in Hell on Travel in Stygian. You even get to hear as the demons speak to him as they claim his soul for all of eternity, and then closes with a beautiful piano piece.

My final word is that this album is without a doubt a true American metal classic! it doesn't flow with the times or with anything for that matter. Iced Earth sounds like Iced Earth and you'd be doing yourself a great favor by adding it to your collection! I highly recommend though that you purchase the ORIGINAL print of this album. I feel the remastered version has too many unnecessary changes like sucking out the reverb and cutting out little pieces from the mix. After all, I personally think the original cover art is better anyway! All in all, this is Iced Earth's best work and every song being a highlight!