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I wonder what this would sound like with Gene Adam - 95%

Mr Matt, April 10th, 2018

Iced Earth's "Night Of The Stormrider" is a power metal essential, like, on the top 10 most essential power metal albums. The orchestral start of "Angels Holocaust" is something you'd not expect in metal and so well done and so epic/beautiful, Iced Earth may as well be classical composers as well. I think a lot of what contributes the epic sound and feel to "Night Of The Stormrider" is the E-flat tuning, making E minor (arguably the default key in metal) sound like E-flat minor, and so on. Flat and/or sharp keys have quite a different tone and feel than natural keys and that is just what Iced Earth needs for their unforgettable sound.

While John Greely may not be as good of a vocalist as Matt Barlow, Greely is just who is needed for this album. His thrashy voice that sounds a bit like Gene Adam, but has more singing than wailing, perfectly portrays how the main character, The Stormrider, feels and experiences throughout the album. The story of The Stormrider is quite a sad, tragic, and a horrifying one, and it's pretty metal. While the reworked versions of many songs from "Night Of The Stormrider" that are on the "Days Of Purgatory" album might sound better with none other than Matt Barlow, I prefer this original album with the original vocalist. While Matt Barlow's voice is strong, powerful, and very well-trained, John Greely's is sharper (not musically sharper as in raising the pitch, don't get me wrong), and petrifying. John Greely also does a great job voicing the thing that lured the man who would become The Stormrider into becoming The Stormrider. This is shown in the intro track to "Mystical End", "Before The Vision". Possibly the best part about the vocals on "Night Of The Stormrider" is here. Other vocal highlights on this album are in possibly my favorite song off of "Night Of The Stormrider", "Mystical End". Around the 2:10-2:20 mark, after some spoken lyrics, John Greely hits a high G-flat (held this for a half note), then A-flat (held this for a full measure). Well, those notes are what the pitch sounded like. If it were notated on a music staff, it would probably have been G and A since this album has E-flat tuning, so the vocalist would just sing a half-step down as well.

Randy Shawver is one of my favorite power metal guitarists and his best guitar work has to be from "Night Of The Stormrider". There are really sweet solos from every song (save the intro tracks only) on this album. The best solo off this album has to either be "Mystical End" or "Travel In Stygian". There are a lot of common power metal guitar techniques shown in these solos like neo-classical sounding legato figures, triplet patterns, and some scale work. While you will see those techniques everywhere, they are used exceptionally here. Besides Jake Dreyer, Randy Shawver was definitely Iced Earth's best guitarist.

In closing, "Night Of The Stormrider" is a power metal essential and Iced Earth's best album. The 90's saw the transformation of the power metal sound from what we might here from Helloween to thrash-inspired stuff like Iced Earth and Blind Guardian that kept power metal alive and influenced the rest of power metal after that. Ooo, one more remark: I'm not a drummer, but the drum part around the guitar solo to possibly the best Iced Earth song, "Travel In Stygian", has some serious double-bass drum work. And I wonder what this would have sounded like with Gene Adam.