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Glorious Thrash. - 91%

Nightcrawler, September 28th, 2002

Fuck yes. Iced Earth before their geigh overemotional power metal days (Yeah, I'd say that "The Dark Saga" and forward, they are pretty much power metal, though Schaffer does try to write thrash riffs occasionally by recycling some riffs from their first three albums) and before they went poser on us. I want the "Night of the Stormrider" shirt saying "FUCK POSERS" on the back. This album definitely joins the poserslaying ranks of "Bonded By Blood", "Kill 'Em All" and "Taking Over", although not quite as good as either of these, except possibly the Metallica debut.

Jon Schaffer here delivers his by far best performance, and out of Iced Earth's so far 4 singers, John Greely is by miles the greatest one - well, Ripper is pretty fucking good too, but he doesn't have Greely's range, as he goes from angered growls and demonic roars to manic Halford meets Eric Adams meets Satan-screams. Greely's voice is also perfect for this album, packed with 7 songs (the remaining two, "Before The Vision" and "Reaching The End" being two short acoustic interludes tying together the concept of the album) of almost relentless thrash riffage, only to stop for further melodic interludes within the song, but that only adds power to the monstrous attack force that is Jon Schaffer's superior riffing (too sad he ran out of ideas so quickly) and Greely's insane vocals (too bad he was a fucked up Nazi so they had to kick him out of the band).

On this album, we have amazing raging thrashers such as opening track "Angel's Holocaust", beginning with a huge operatic intro coupled with forceful snare drums kicking our way into the madness. "The Path I Choose" features some fucking mad vocals and riffwork, and is one of the heaviest songs on here. "Desert Rain" with it's melodic build-up intro and the awesome solo section, and the crazy riff bombardment of "Pure Evil" also stand as highlights. The more melodic and catchy "Mystical End" should also be noted - but higher of them all rises "Travel In Stygian", Iced Earth's best song by far and a Thrash Metal classic.

"Reaching The End" takes us through a dark, melancholic and acoustic interlude, soon fading out to make way for... yes, the best riffs on the album, pummeling across with ferocity unseen before on here, and the lyrics tell a dark, demonic tale of a journey through hell, and the amazing guitarwork coupled with Greely's still amazing vocals visualize this perfectly. The image is enhanced by the two melodic but oh-so-evil middle sections. Then there's the breakdown where everything slows down and gets heavy as FUCK. The henchman awaits you, fucker, and it's time to die!
This song is completely amazing all through. So fucking amazing, definitely one of those songs you can't get enough of, and while you may hate Iced Earth's late material, this stuff will fucking rip out your heart and make you watch it as you die. "THE HOT WINDS OF HELL BREATHE YOUR NAME!"

So in conclusion, this is an amazing thrash album with one awesome-as-bloody-ass-hell-Satan-shit-holy fuck song, but one must not overlook the moments of epic power metal that lies obvious through most of the songs, with the rather epic and unusual structures, and this just underlines the ferocity of Schaffer's riffwork at this time. It's hard to believe how the man who wrote that monster riff kicking "Travel In Stygian" into full speed now writes boring, dreary crap like "Declaration Day". Get this- and get the original, cause for some reason, the remaster from "Dark Genesis" for some unexplained reason is missing one riff from "Travel In Stygian", and while it may be an unimportant part of the song, I don't wanna miss out on anything from that baby.

Yeah, so Iced Earth is for metal n00bs and isn't tr00 thrash. I don't care, this album fucking rocks.