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Something special... - 90%

AtomicMassHysteria87, December 1st, 2016

This is a special album. I'm not exactly sure what it is, although I'm pretty sure it's due to the fact that this was the first Iced Earth album I listened to, around 2009 or so. But it's more than just nostalgia, this album hits so many right notes in my brain. It might just be me, seeing as how many reviews tend to pan this album. Regardless, this is a fantastic power/thrash metal album from cult metal icons Iced Earth, and I'll try to put it into words.

First impressions are strong, what with the comic book art-style on the cover and the Shakespeare-pulled title. But the album has the music to back it up. This is a great follow-up to The Dark Saga, as it is very much a continuation of that sound, but an evolution of it at the same time.

The songs are, for the most part, very strong. For the first ten songs the album seems to be balancing heavy, fast, thrashy songs with slower, cleaner stuff in an alternating fashion. For example, the album opens with "Burning Times", a great mid-paced rocker, and then goes into "Melancholy (Holy Martyr)", very much a ballad. Then it follows up with "Disciples of the Lie", the most Slayer-sounding song on the record, which then goes into "Watching Over Me", a touching ballad about Jon Schaffer's deceased best friend. It does this a couple more times before leading into the Something Wicked Trilogy, a rousing 20-minute closer that is definitely the highlight of the whole album, and worth the price of admission alone. Among the thirteen tracks is the song "1776", an instrumental that mixes things up nicely. The only real misstep is the song "Reaping Stone", an almost blues-sounding tune that doesn't really do a whole lot.

But this album does have a weakness, and it's one that both Iced Earth fans and detractors are aware of, and that's the repetitiveness of the music. Iced Earth's kryptonite has always been the seemingly formulaic approach to their music: loud mixed with quiet, guitar triplets, and big epic power metal choruses. Put those together and you have an Iced Earth song. It gets old after a while, but if you're willing to put up with it, then by all means keep enjoying this music (and good for you).

If you're the kind of guy that despised The Dark Saga, then this certainly isn't the album for you. But if you liked it, then definitely pick this up, for it may be one of the most emotionally-rewarding albums you'll ever listen to.

Inconsistent and Incoherent - 65%

lonerider, July 17th, 2016
Written based on this version: 1998, CD, Century Media Records

Iced Earth are one those bands whose career took an unfortunate turn following an early peak. After storming onto the scene with a bunch of releases boasting furious American power metal with complex song structures and Jon Schaffer’s signature-style riffing, they began taking a more melodic, streamlined approach that made its debut on The Dark Saga and was fully established by the time their fifth full-length album, titled Something Wicked This Way Comes, rolled around.

Comparing this to, for instance, the ridiculously good Night of the Stormrider, it sometimes feels like listening to two entirely different bands. A lot of that has to do with the change the band made behind the microphone, replacing vocalist John Greely with Matt Barlow. While that change already occurred on the band’s third album, the very complex, dark and uncompromising Burnt Offerings, they afterwards began adjusting their songwriting to better accommodate Barlow’s radically different singing style. I’ll just go ahead and let the cat out of the bag: I’ve never been a fan of Matt Barlow the metal vocalist. Unlike lots of other metalheads, who downright revered and idolized the guy, I’ve always found his vocals lack grit and are overly sentimental to the point of sometimes almost sounding corny or even whiny, and that’s not just on the many ballads and semi-ballads the band started writing for the albums after Burnt Offerings. Ultimately it’s a matter of personal taste and Barlow is probably a better singer technically than any of his predecessors were, but his style certainly isn’t everybody’s cup of tea.

Anyway, as the vocals became more emotional and theatrical, the music grew more melodic and, for many casual fans, more accessible as well, and that trend is painfully obvious on Something Wicked This Way Comes. On the other hand, when the album is on, it’s really dead-on, featuring a handful of good to really fantastic tracks that match everything Iced Earth put out prior to The Dark Saga. So, let’s revel in the positive first, and in this regard, it doesn’t get any better than the “Something Wicked” trilogy that concludes the album in the best way possible. Had the guys released an EP containing only this thrilling trilogy, which consists of the three epic tracks “Prophecy”, “Birth of the Wicked” and “The Coming Curse”, you’d be hard-pressed not to rate it at or near one hundred per cent. Everything that used to be great about Iced Earth is right here, even though it’s not a full-on return to the band’s older sound. It’s still more melodic and more instantly catchy than, say, Night of the Stormrider, but it’s similarly heavy and epic, featuring many diverse parts, lots of shredding riffs, lots of speed and tempo changes, amazing guitar leads and solos and even an unusually aggressive vocal performance by Mr. Barlow. These tracks are so good as to somewhat overshadow the other nice tracks that are there, including the decent if unspectacular opener “Burning Times”, the short but sweet “Stand Alone”, “Reaping Stone” with its crunchy Sabbath-like riffing, and the great instrumental “1776”, which despite (or, cynically speaking, precisely because) its utter lack of vocals may even be the best track outside of the closing trio. There’s also “Melancholy (Holy Martyr)”, an energetic semi-ballad with a nice galloping chorus. It’s rather well done overall and very catchy, as evidenced by the fact that it used to be a fan favorite and mainstay during live shows.

The rest of this album, however, is pretty forgettable and sometimes even downright horrible. The songwriting is quite varied, ranging from a rather clumsy attempt at a raging thrasher in “Disciples of the Lie” to two completely worthless ballads. Diverse songwriting and variety can be a good thing, but here the tracks are such a ragtag bunch that the album often seems disjointed and lacking in focus. The low point is reached with the two pure ballads, “Watching over Me” and “Consequences”. They’re both cringe-inducing to the point where I don’t even know which one is worse. I guess my money is on “Watching over Me”. I know it’s a song written in memory of a deceased friend and is therefore meant to be highly emotional, but it’s also incredibly sappy and one of those instances where Barlow, and I’m sorry to say this, just sounds painfully whiny. In “Blessed Are You”, there’s yet another solemn, balladic track, but at least it sports a heavy and quite memorable chorus as well as a nice solo section, which is really what saves this song from being yet another faceplant. It’s obviously meant as a sort of anthem dedicated to their most ardent fans, and as that, it gets the job done well enough. “My Own Savior” is a heavier, double-bass driven track with aggressive verses, which unfortunately are kind of ruined by that weird and somewhat ill-fitting Middle-Eastern melody in the chorus. Finally, there’s “Disciples of the Lie”, a song about sexually abusive priests and obviously Iced Earth’s attempt at going back to their roots by pulling off a fast-paced, no-nonsense thrasher. Alas, I’d have to call it a failed attempt, as it’s rather too simplistic, lacks truly memorable riffs and includes a keyboard section toward the end that’s just really odd. The keyboard here seems to emulate the sound of a church organ and while it certainly fits the lyrical content, it’s way too loud in the mix and simply feels out of place in a song that’s supposed to dish out severe punishment and give the listener a decent flogging. To make matters worse, this is exactly the kind of track that doesn’t really fit with Matt Barlow’s melodramatic singing style, but let’s not go there again.

In the end, Something Wicked This Way Comes is a rather weird, uneven collection of individual songs, lacking consistency as well as coherence. It’s spot-on at times, culminating in the almost godly trio of songs coming at the very end, but when it’s off, it’s really way off. It’s dragged down by more than a few filler tracks and even some downright atrocities, so be prepared to hit the skip button multiple times. Then again, it’s expertly produced, making for a massive, hard-hitting sound. It also has some nice artwork to boot, so there are some redeeming qualities aside from a limited number of very good songs. Honestly, though, this album would be close to a complete dud if it weren’t for the awesome “Something Wicked” trilogy, which all by itself is good enough to consider buying this on the cheap. If you really liked the more concise The Dark Saga and are looking for a bunch of songs in a similar vein, you might even enjoy the whole thing, but with a running time of more than one hour and numerous flaws, Something Wicked This Way Comes figures to be a pretty underwhelming experience for most listeners.

Choicest cuts: 1776, Prophecy, Birth of the Wicked, The Coming Curse

Quality songwriting, passionate display. - 81%

ConorFynes, June 9th, 2015

Over the course of The Dark Saga, Something Wicked This Way Comes, and Horror Show, Iced Earth arguably produced their best written material. These albums fell after the stylistic experimentation of the first albums, but not so long that Schaffer and the boys had grown sterile with their creativity. It's still baffling to me that there are fans out there that will profess their love for Night of the Stormrider, but dismiss these mid-period albums as shit. Iced Earth continued to get slower on Something Wicked This Way Comes, much as they had with The Dark Saga. It would be unfair to both parties to compare their later melodic metal to the aggressive thrash of their rising era, but I do think Iced Earth had continued to become stronger songwriters as time went on; Something Wicked This Way Comes may show early warning hints of their '00s slump, but I'm damned if it doesn't have some of their most memorable tunes.

There is a potentially hazardous bias in keeping a band's prior style and achievements in mind when digesting new material. This is true, at the very least, for the fans who spit on the relatively song-focused leanings of The Dark Saga in light of the aggressive bite Iced Earth had done before with something like Night of the Stormrider. One's mileage may vary, but I think The Dark Saga was great for what it was: a dark but ultimately melodic album with a near-singular focus on tight songwriting. When it comes to Something Wicked This Way Comes, I don't think Iced Earth's past achievements inform the reception as much-- after all, The Dark Saga took the brunt for the divisive shift. Rather, I think their fifth full-length suffers from the flipside of that hazardous bias; Something Wicked This Way Comes may sour in light of the albums that would come after it.

Mind you, I'm not counting Horror Show in that tally; it's a great album, and one of the best Iced Earth have ever put out. No; I'm talking about the subsequent albums that can almost unanimously be described as weaker creations than those of Iced Earth's heyday. The cheesy ballads, simplified songwriting and the "'Murica fuck yeah" jingoism that people like to piss on started to show here on SWTWC. The album has more than its share of ballads and tearjerkers, and if you didn't like the way they went with their sound on The Dark Saga, this one isn't bound to change your mind. Regardless; a lot of the criticism towards this album seems to dwell solely on what it means to achieve, and less so how well it actually manages to do so. For my money, the songwriting on Something Wicked This Way Comes is the strongest they had done up to that point. Even the most potentially saccharine ballads convey a lot of feeling, thanks in large part to the greater vocal confidence Matt Barlow expressed on this album. "Watching Over Me" is a perfect example how Iced Earth manage to make would-be lame elements work to their benefit. It's a power ballad of the most archetypal quality, and probably would have sounded like grating cheese in less passionate hands. Nonetheless, Barlow makes the song work, and makes you feel it along with him.

In addition to being my first experience of Iced Earth, The Dark Saga was notable for hitting me upon the first listen-- it usually takes a few listens before a record settles into my memory. Something Wicked This Way Comes wasn't quite so immediate. It's possible that I was keeping my cynicism on speed-dial at the first sight of cheese or balladry; suffice to say, it took a couple of listens to warm up to the increasing emphasis on traditional songwriting. Unlike The Dark Saga, Something Wicked This Way Comes doesn't have the benefit of perfect flow, but the more I listen to these songs, the more I get to feeling that Iced Earth are much, much better songwriters than I first gave them credit for. "1776" is one of the finest metal instrumentals I've ever heard, and the "Something Wicked" trilogy at the end of the album takes the epic threads they experimented with on "Dante's Inferno" and The Dark Saga's own "Suffering" trilogy and takes them to a cinematic level of coherence. I could say that the album focuses too much on balladry, but with the quality and feeling Iced Earth have injected into the songwriting here, I don't even mind.

The good, the bad, and the wicked last 3. - 74%

hells_unicorn, December 23rd, 2010

Iced Earth has perhaps the unique and, in the opinion of many, undeserved honor of being at the forefront of visible heavy metal during its horrid recession in the mid 1990s. One might allude to it as being similar to the criticisms that Metallica receives for essentially stealing the whole show in the early 90s with their self-titled fit of slowed down, commercial fodder, only to abandon ship for an even less enticing stint as a boring alternative rock band. This becomes further applicable when one recounts the less than subtle parallels in sound between Metallica’s “Black Album” and Jon Schaffer’s heavy flirtation with mainstream courtship on “The Dark Saga”.

But one important divergence between these two bands developed in 1998, and that was Iced Earth deciding not to progress themselves completely out of the Metal genre and taking the conservative role of reasserting their established sound on “Something Wicked This Way Comes”. In many respects, this album can be seen as a more elaborate, more honed, and ultimately more metallic rehash of the formula that marked this band’s musical homage to the “Spawn” comic series. Taking into account the album’s pacing, the simplicity and brevity of most of the songs, and the heavy concentration of repetitive and easy identified chorus sections, the only real difference between this album and its predecessor is that more riffs and a meaner production went into it.

In fact, the greatest weakness of this album is that it is extremely similar to “The Dark Saga”, almost to the point where I can sympathize with those claiming that Schaffer self-plagiarizes his songs, though this wouldn’t apply as much to later efforts. The ballad “Melancholy (Holy Martyr)” matches the chord progression, feel, and structure of “I Died For You” almost identically, elements of “A Question Of Heaven” filter in and out of “Consequence”, and the galloping riff fest on steroids “Disciples Of The Lie” can’t help but remind heavily of its more stripped down cousin “Violate”. Naturally there are some clear divergences and developments that save this from being an out and out rehash, such as the extremely catchy, albeit slow and chugging “Burning Times” which seems to turn the clock back a bit towards “Burnt Offerings”. There is also the somewhat comical and pop-like ballad “Watching Over Me” which would probably be more at home on AOR radio than anything else this band has put out.

Things range from being a tad bit redundant to fairly entertaining throughout the first 10 songs, as the evolution in sound seems heavily involved in the incorporation of atmospheric elements and keyboard work, as well as expanding the vocal possibilities explored by Matt Barlow. In many respects, Barlow’s vocals become a liability when he overdoes the dramatics, but he doesn’t completely destroy the mood of the music the way some would suggest and does a good job of incorporating his harsh Thrash shouts, clean and husky baritone, and occasional nods to Judas Priest styled screeching. His standout performance on here is clearly heard on “Reaping Stone”, which also happens to be one of the band’s more intricate and powerful hybrids of older, mid-paced heavy metal with the faster, galloping variety of thrash that typifies the band’s early 90s sound.

At the close of the first 10 songs, the impression is left that this is perhaps only a slightly superior version of what 1996 saw this band doing, but then in comes the “Something Wicked” trilogy, which essentially sees Schaffer and company reclaiming the glory days of “Burnt Offerings” with a whole slew of bone-rattling riffs, epic choruses and driving themes that clearly point towards the majesty accomplished on “Framing Armageddon”. There aren’t any slouch sections to be found here like on the ending trilogy of “The Dark Saga”, just a straight shot of Maiden and thrash trappings executed to sheer excellence and topped off with some solid Gregorian chant and operatic vocal samples.

Although not the best of this band’s offerings by any stretch, there are some really great songs to be found mixed in with some less interesting filler, enough to make this worth acquiring. It is a bit heavy on material and might have done well to have had one or two songs taken out to lighten the load, or perhaps having releases the “Something Wicked” trilogy as a separate EP, though that would have taken this album down considerably in value. It might be accessible, it might flirt with commercial radio play at times, but there is definitely metal to be heard here.

Originally submitted to (www.metal-observer.com) on December 23, 2010.

Pretty boring stuff - 40%

linkavitch, September 17th, 2009

If you have heard of Iced Earth before you are probably aware of how the majority of their work tends to blend into each other and sound like a big mush of galloping riffs and a lot of acoustic ballads. This album is no exception, and it’s probably their most famous example to me. Just listen to “Disciples of the Lie” and you’ll notice how the EXACT SAME riff is used over and over again throughout the song.

This really is a boring album. You take away the vocals and all the choruses what you are left with is nothing more than an album with about two or three riffs in each song. Riffs are basically your typical Iced Earth gallop riff used quite a lot, and a lot of acoustic guitars in the ballads which are overused a bit on this album. Out of the thirteen tracks on this album four of them are ballads, and they all act as filler tracks (even though the whole album feels like a bunch of filler tracks). But the ballads don’t go anywhere; they’re just kind of there for the sake of being there. They don’t really have any emotion or energy to them; they all feel kind of hollowed out like taking the scraps of what was left after recording and adding them to the album. I guess the first ballad “Melancholy (Holy Martyr)” would be the better of the four ballads, considering that it is the most melodramatic out of them all.

There really are a lot of different music clichés in this album, mostly in the final three tracks. These three tracks make up the "Something Wicked" trilogy, and these tracks are the main reasons why anyone would buy this album. Everything that you would think would be added into an ‘epic’ like song is basically in these three songs. Some dramatic vocals, chanting, female vocals, random guitar solos, acoustic sections, and even keyboards are all in the final three songs. The three songs (especially the final one) are a bit lengthy so everything doesn’t get chaotic all at once or anything, for it all comes at you one at a time basically. If you’re going to add all of this into a few songs though then you should actually use them a lot, not just once or twice for a few seconds. Everything comes at you one thing after another that the music itself is rather bland after the first listen.

Like I said, this is a pretty boring album, especially in the riff department. It’s not as bad as The Dark Saga but that’s doesn’t really help its case considering how boring that album was. It does have some songs that are actually interesting at some point in time, even if it is just for a minute or so. This isn’t mandatory listening at all; nothing by Iced Earth is really a mandatory listen either. Pretty much the vocals are the only real positive thing that I can say about this album. However, some songs like “Reaping Stone” (“Reaping Stone” is easily one of the worst songs with Barlow on it) with its groove passages and overall slow pace is a terrible song even with the nice vocals. While on the song topic, “1776” just doesn’t even fit on this album anywhere. I know it’s just an instrumental but it would fit much better on The Glorious Burdon instead (mostly due to the song title). Anyways, Something Wicked This Way Comes is just like the majority of the Iced Earth albums out there, rather boring and is nothing but yet another album being churned out by Iced Earth.

Okay, last Iced Earth review, I promise. - 45%

Empyreal, November 8th, 2008

Oh, boy, do I ever have a lot to say about this piece of festering shit. It's not quite as bad as their previous effort, the horrible The Dark Saga, but it certainly isn't anything to waste your time on. I've bitched a lot about Iced Earth before, but that was all about their newer stuff. A lot of people tell you that the new stuff from this band is bad and the old stuff was "better," but in this case, all "better" means is "not quite as shitty."

I really don't know where to start with this. It isn't even all that bad when you look at it from an individual songs perspective. It's got some solid tunes like the thrashy "Disciples of the Lie," the headstrong "Stand Alone" and the ending "Coming Curse" trilogy, which actually shows some progression - a word which Jon Schaffer has long since outgrown. They're nowhere near great songs, but they're fun and solid all around, with the titular track being the best, a 9 minute beast full of riffs and melody alike. However, there is a whole lot of filler here, as most of this album is full of stupid, boring shit like "My Own Savior" and the horrendous "Consequences," as well as the vomit-inducing Christian blowjob song "Melancholy." A lot of the others are as unmemorable as they come, including the opening "Burning Times," which lacks any sort of melodic hook, the instrumental "1776" and the blase "Blessed Are You."

Did I mention the way they set the songs up? We get a heavy song, a ballad, a heavy song, another ballad, then another heavy song, then another ballad...and it just goes on like this until we get to the ending trilogy. Pardon me, but this is an absolutely horrible way to set up your album. Seriously, what were they thinking? It's like they didn't already have a whole album full of direct, boring modern Metal slush, so they decided to take it a step further and make it almost impossible for any functioning human being to enjoy. This album has no momentum whatsoever, as every time you start to get pumped up by good songs like "Stand Alone," here comes the shitty ballad after it to ruin your fun. There's no logical reason as to why any album should be set up like this. Calling it one of the most moronic and boneheaded stunts I've seen in this sort of thing doesn't even begin to do it justice.

At least it all starts to blur together after a while into a geriatric mess of heavy plunking and emotionless grunts. Yes, even the ballads. This album has no longevity whatsoever. This is metal for fucking kindergartners. Add some riffs, subtract the feeling, multiply by the number of times Matt Barlow repeats the chorus. It's the most elementary, basic, bottom-end trash out there. It's just heavy for the sake of being heavy, one of those albums where the only thing you can say about it is "it's a Metal album." Not "it's a good Metal album," or "it's a Metal album with a lot of passion and emotion oozing out of its every pore." Just "it's a Metal album." This album has no special merit or individuality, merely defining itself on the fact that it's got riffs and it can be headbanged to. However, it doesn't help that the riffs here suck, and lack any of the traditional Metal spirit. They just sort of plod on and on with no real stomp or flare to them at all. In fact, I am willing to bet you that if you took away the distortion, pretty much every song here could pass as elevator music to someone who wasn't paying attention. Even the good stuff here can't save the mediocrity, as it's still not as good as what you could potentially be listening to instead.

Originally written for http://www.metalcrypt.com

Set Abominae is born... - 99%

The_Boss, October 29th, 2008

Here is it, Iced Earth's 1998 release Something Wicked This Way Comes and begins the story of the character Set Abominae, as well as bringing in more controversy to Iced Earth's catalogue. Jon Schaffer again continues the path of doing his own thing and not falling amongst trends and shit. With Something Wicked This Way comes, Schaffer and co. have definitely done a magnificent job of mixing the traditional Iced Earth sound with more of an emotional mix that seen from past releases like Dark Saga. Matt Barlow's performance once again, shines above all else as he is an integral part of Iced Earth, if not making the band more of what it is.

The album has gotten a lot of slack for having multiple ballads, mid-tempo songs and overall a lack of intense power/thrash-houses that were seen all throughout Night of the Stormrider and Burnt Offerings. Well, the intensity is somewhat passable on several songs, but to say it's gone is an outright lie. Listening to Stand Alone, Disciples of the Lie, the end of The Coming Curse and will rightly shut you the fuck up, because those are all solid intense headbangers. Even the mid-tempo opener, Burning Times, has a seminal piece of heaviness with wonderful opening riff and ominous layering of an insanely evil sounding atmosphere. Stand Alone is at the top of the heap, being a short song with rapid fire riffing and some unbelievably cool sounding rhythm and lead work that mixes and overlaps in a killer heavy metal fashion. Disciples of the Lie and My Own Savior both start off with some fun power/thrash riffing that leads into catchy short songs that are something Iced Earth is known for as well.

The rest of the album is filled with some ballads, the Something Wicked trilogy and a first in Iced Earth's career for me. The ballads that get some slack to me are amazing and beautiful crafts of songs that are full of intense emotion and undeniable catchiness. Melancholy is full of Matt Barlow's emotional crooning and saddening questioning of his role as the shattered king, most likely Jesus Christ in the song; Barlow can hit some incredible falsettoes and this song only proves his range and power is better than anyone else. Watching Over Me is Schaffer's song dedicated to his friend that died many years ago and how he's still around, showing some nice acoustic work and more of Barlow's beautiful voice. The best of the ballads though, is Consequenes; more powerful acoustic work that drives the song, speaking of the world and what bad shape it is in, how things must be changed and such, once again... Barlow shines hitting some kickass falsettoes. I think Schaffer made a decent move by having these ballads filling up the album, they're catchy and memorable and at the same time highlighted by Matt Barlow's wonderful vocals.

The first in Iced Earth's career for me is The Reaping Stone; this song is just boring. I pass this song pretty much every time, not much to be redeemed here it's just a slow moving song, of course much to be expected with Barlow and his vocals but in the end it's simply skipworthy. But it's all redeemed once you listen to the final three songs, the Something Wicked Trilogy. Here it goes, the greatest of their "trilogies" series, this harbors one of their best songs as well as the second best performance by Matt Barlow. Starts off with Prophecy; remember that ominous and menacing sounding atmosphere found on the opener Burning Times? Yeah well it's continued here Iced Earth's best bassline ever, starting off creeping and ominous then turning into a monster.. thundering and pounding and charging the way whislt the song picks up in tempo and just crushes all opposition with riffing madness. This starts the beginning of the Set Abominae story, speaking of what evil awaits 10,000 years from now, the song finishes off with the omen like sound of a clock ticking... then the bell goes off and you're not ready for what's about to come. Madness once again reigns with Birth of the Wicked, 10,000 years later now Set Abominae is here and wrecking havoc upon the earth and Barlow's power in the vocal department sticks out again as he can shift from emotional softer crooning to aggressive wailing. And here it is...

The Coming Curse... 2000 years later and here we are, Set Abominae is pure evil incarnate and Matt Barlow does nothing but inhabit this evil with an obsession of powerful vocal beauty. This nine minute epic is the highlight of this album, Something Wicked This Way Comes was MADE around this song! After the minute or so piano intro with it's summoning evil atmosphere, the song opens up with traditional Schaffer riffing and headlining his career with an insane riff-fest. The album has some great lyrics, but here is where it all comes together, and the climax is when Barlow rips it out, "I AM YOUR ANTIIIII-CHRRIIIISST!" Wow, I just shat myself from the sheer intensity and power. Bow down motherfuckers.

Something This Way Comes was my first Iced Earth album and probably my personal favorite. Their is a misstep as with one song and having my first song that I routinely skip on an Iced Earth album; but the rest of the songs here are purely catchy and amazing that something I won't deny and only submit to the power. I strongly suggest this to every hardcore Iced Earth fan, as well as anyone wanting to get into the Set Abominae story, as this is where it starts. The musicanship here is stellar, Jon Schaffer is well... Jon Schaffer, creating some wonderful riffs but then again not creating anything more of out of the ordinary. Larry Tarnowski has some incredible leads but on here only does the guitar solos and they're certainly some of Iced Earth's best. James McDonough as previously mentioned does a stellar job and kicks much ass, shame he left the band.

This is an amazing addition to Iced Earth's catalogue and worthy for many metal fans, strongly recommended and worth checking out. It was my first Iced Earth album but is probably not exactly the greatest to start with for someone new to Iced Earth. Schaffer and Barlow crafted the song, Blessed Are You as a tribute to their fans all around the world that have supported Iced Earth from it's inception, something I take as a personal thank you which means more than imagined for a diehard Iced Earth fan. It's a thank you for support, but in the end, we're the ones who need to thank them for their craft of amazing music.

The Trilogy Saves This - 65%

invaded, October 4th, 2008

Iced Earth are meant to be a thrash and power metal hybrid with a good dose of traditional heavy metal in them. Iced Earth are meant to play fast and hard riffs along with challenging and piercing vocal melodies. Iced Earth are not meant to write ballads or half-time grooves that are bluesy, but no one mentioned that to them I guess.

Something Wicked This Way Comes is where things started to go awry for this legendary band. Sure The Dark Saga was up and down but this record planted the evil little seed of Set Abominae in Jon Schaffer's mind and that led to slower tempos, attempts at chamber music and massive choirs like Blind Guardian (Demons & Wizards?). This record turned Iced Earth into what they should not be: a pompous epic metal act with little to no substance.

But enough of my tirades and onto the actual record. SWTWC is a mixed bag. On one end you have fantastic tracks such as Burning Times and My Own Savior, both of which are rightfully seen as classics in their repertoir. However there are a bunch of crappy ballads and slower tracks such as Watching Over Me, Reaping Stone and Consequences. Watching Over Me is especially bad. I understand it is meaningful and all but this is just a sappy and cheesy emotional ballad that belongs on a pop record, not a thrash album. The only exceptionally good track in the latter category is Melancholy (Holy Martyr). The song is well crafted and has a particularly strong chorus.

1776 is pretty cool, giving us a prelude of what was to come with The Glorious Burden. Blessed Are also has its moments but is not overly spectacular.

On to the trilogy. This is by far the shining beacon this record has to offer. From the slow arpeggios and calm vocal delivery in the opening moments of Prophecy to the dying piano notes of The Coming Curse all the while whirlwinding through great moments in Birth of the Wicked, this is as good as Iced Earth gets. The riffs are there, Barlow's pipes are there and the drums kick the listener's arse tenfold. The trilogy never stops and really is a must-listen to anyone who enjoys traditional metal. This is probably the best piece of music or entity of music Schaffer has ever produced. Try not to get shivers during the "I am your Anti-Christ!" part, I dare you. Sheer emotion, intensity and craftsmanship came into this and it shows.

Matthew Barlow sounds great though, as usual. This man has what I would deem the most beautiful voice in metal and his performances are always top notch, even if the music isn't. The guitar tone, when used adequately, is also great. Schaffer's crisp yet ballsy tone can give a riff great life when he sets his mind to it. The bass isn't very noticeable, although not bad either. It's just not important. Lead guitar has never been a strong point in this band except when Ralph Santolla joined in, so no Larry Tarnowski doesn't blow my mind with his leads or anything. The drums are good though as Mark Prator always sounds lively behind the kit.

If you can stand the ballads you should be able to get by, but at least make sure you get a gander at the trilogy to get a glimpse of Iced Earth at their best. As a record though, this isn' great. Check out Horror Show if you want the last great IE record.

Something Glorious This Way Comes - 95%

darkreif, July 13th, 2007

Something Wicked This Way Comes is really what Iced Earth is about. This is the example of what Iced Earth has been striving for and have accomplished in their extensive musical journey. All their line-up changes and all the challenges have led to this album and we, the fans, are able to bask in the glory of it.

I have to say this is possibly one of the best metal albums ever written and that is not a light comment. A slick combination of Iron Maiden’s sensibility and Exodus’ ferocity, this album covers it all. A great power/thrash ride for any fan of metal can be found somewhere on the album if not the entire album itself.

The guitars are heavy and chunky are parts with great galloping riffs that will put most other metal bands to shame. Jon Schaeffer may in fact be one of my favorite guitars just because of this album. His ability to blend aggressive riffs with some catchy and classical leads is something that many have never been able to do. He can write amazing ballads (“Watching Over Me”) or aggressive metal anthems (“Disciples of the Lie”) without ever missing a note. The guitars are very emotive and heartfelt at times and yet never leave the realm of metal. His solos are well thought out and played yet still very technical. The production of the guitars is also amazing.

The bass parts are very much Iron Maiden inspired and full of galloping (in a very Steve Harris manner) rhythms that keep the music moving forward despite all of the leads and solos. The bass really holds the song structures together and in the end much of the album.

The drums are nothing too spectacular but well fitted for the direction of the music. As a combination of thrash and power metal, the drums are a solid mix of both the styles. The double bass drum is used a lot to keep the pace of the album but it is mixed quiet enough that it doesn’t consume the music like some modern thrash does. There is also a lot of great cymbal use to counteract the bass drum and to compliment the heavy riffs and bass lines. It fits like a glove to put it simply.

Matt Barlow is still one of the best vocalists to ever grace the metal scene. His ability to slightly shift his vocals from soaring notes to harsher tones is relentless on this album. He suits the concept of the album amazingly. And for a singer that can sing some great vocal melodies, he never once sounds cheesy. He can sing the ballads with grand emotion but also throw down an angry lyric without sounding too different. Something Wicked This Way Comes still is his pinnacle as a singer as far as I’m concerned.

I also believe it should be mentioned that Something Wicked This Way Comes has some of the best lyrical content I’ve heard in a long time. Iced Earth always has very interesting lyrics and much of them are interpreted differently, but this album, more specifically the final trilogy, has amazing lyrics.

If you are a fan of thrash or power metal this is a must have for the collection. The best album Iced Earth has released and possibly one of the best metal albums out there. All around amazing.

Songs to check out: Burning Times, Watching Over Me, Something Wicked Trilogy.

A fairly good album but weaker than the previous - 76%

Wez, November 7th, 2004

This is a rather schizophrenic offering from Iced Earth, being that it leaps between softer and heavy numbers very often. Some are bound to loathe this though others should be able to tolerate it. It follows in the path of the more relaxed songwriting of "The Dark Saga" and maybe impressive taken on its own, though it's nothing to rival to the older Iced Earth material. When I first heard this, I was without any other Iced Earth albums to compare this one to, and with it also being my first bite into the Iced Earth pie, this was pretty damn neat with the heavy power/thrash riffs and powerful, bellowing vocals prominentely standing out. It seems that Matt Barlow is able to give a credible and admirable performance even as the riffs run dry. But give it a few years of play time and the first impression is a little altered, especially having been exposed to such classics as Night of the Stormrider and Burnt Offerings.

Regardless, this is still a fine album with plenty to offer for a newer Iced Earth fan and still has a lasting value to veterans of the band. And why wouldn't it? With first track "Burning Times" with all those typical strong Iced Earth elements and solid riffs. Though the album goes up and down from here on starting with softer number "Melancholy (Holy Martyr)" which is a fairly good song with the typical interchanging soft verses and heavy chorus. It then leaps back with the thrashy and savage "Disciples of the Lie" which tends to favour driving force instead of focusing its attention on songwriting, which leaves it behind as one of the album's definite misfires. And it's straight back to the ballads with "Watching Over Me", it's not all that interesting and is pretty standard fare for this type of song. But it's more worthwhile than say "The Hollow Man" off the latest Iced Earth album. It's in the middle of the pack as far as Jon Schaffer's attempts at ballads go.

The album keeps on like this, though instead injecting some softer songs with a darker feel, with the acoustic guitars more foreboding than despairing and with the heavy sections heavier, so "Consequences" and "Reaping Stone" work well with this format, eclipsing the previous similar songs. Around those "Stand Alone" and "My Own Saviour" are again fairly typical of Iced Earth songs, reconjuring the "Burning Times" formula. They're both nice, but unspectucular efforts. Things get broken up with galloping, triplet heavy instrumental "1776" with the inclusion of a flute getting a bit of a more interesting reaction. Back to the softer side of the album with the pretty unispired and tiring "Blessed are You" which has nothing really distinguishing and nothing we haven't already heard before in this album. It's a bit tedious and makes me want to get ahead to the "Something Wicked trilogy", which seem to be the highlights of these newer Iced Earth albums ("Gettysburg trilogy" anyone?). And it is, with the standard, plain riffs at their best once again here in all three parts. Though the last part "The Coming Curse" stands out the most in this respect. They don't exactly hearken back to former glories but everything is just done better here than anywhere else on the album. With attempts at creating some atmosphere coming off quite nicely as well.

If you're new to the band, this is a pretty good starting point, it's rather easy to sink your teeth into. But for those who are used to the older efforts this won't be quite as rewarding but there are several noteworthy songs that grab the attention. On the whole however, it is a fairly good album, but definitely a bit weaker than "The Dark Saga". And the constant changes of mood may get frustrating.

Wicked album - 80%

Hattori, July 21st, 2004

A little less dark than its predecessor, and a little less good. The heavy-slow, heavy-slow track sequencing on the first half of the album wears thin. “Burning Times,” and “Disciples of the Lie” both crunch, though the latter does so at a faster pace. In “Melancholy,” Barlow’s verse-vox are as the title describes, before the heavy guitars and backing vocals join in. Although “Watching Over Me” is about Schaffer’s friend who died in a motorcycle accident, the singalong chorus and cymbalism provide a surprisingly upbeat feel. “My Own Savior” and “The Reaping Stone” are both strong, the former boasting some great pre-chorus snarls, giving way to “Arabian Nights” backing vocals. “Stand Alone” does just that, in the sense that it doesn’t go anywhere, while “Consequences” and “Blessed Are You” are two ballads too many.

The trilogy is the album’s centerpiece, located, like all Iced Earth centerpieces, at the end. I can only imagine how Schaffer sets his table at Thanksgiving. “The Prophecy” starts out with a drifting-through-space intro, but halfway through the song, the horses leave the gate, trampling the listener with heavy-hooved gallops. “Birth of the Wicked” is a less-sturdy, more rickety bridge connecting two superior tracks. The piano-intro in “The Coming Curse” is amazing, especially that last do do do do, before the guitars sweep the listener away like a metal-bristled broom. The seemingly relentless attack relents later on, and the track becomes mired in monk-chants and attempted-atmosphere. Thankfully, the heaviness picks up again, just like in the movies, when the hero saves the day just in time.

Overall, Something Wicked is one of the better Iced Earth releases. Recommended for the new and casual fan.

©2004

Certainly no Burnt Offerings - 74%

panteramdeth, February 29th, 2004

This was the first Iced Earth album that I purchased, and I must say, I'm not overly impressed. It's a good album, but not even close to great. In fact, Something Wicked This Way Comes can't even touch Burnt Offerings, or even The Dark Saga and Horror Show. I'll explain why:

-Bad song arrangement ideas. Word to Jon Schaffer: why are the up-tempo and heavier tracks like "Burning Times" and "Stand Alone" followed by slower, acoustic-based tracks like "Melancholy (Holy Martyr)" and "Consequences", respectively? This gives the album a very inconsistent feel, seeing how I would rather headbang to three or four songs straight instead of having to be slowed down after every track with heavy riffs and fast drumming in it.

-Inconsistent songwriting. I have no idea how "Blessed Are You" even made the final cut. The lyrics are awful and rather uninspired, and it's not a very good ballad song, because the verses are simply too mellow and they would put me to sleep in a matter of seconds. Many of the other songs are written very well, though.

-The three last tracks. "Prophecy", "Birth Of The Wicked", and "The Coming Curse" are not bad songs. They are actually very good songs. Don't get me wrong, but I guess this is the concept of the album, and it's only part of the album. Jon, you know the way to write a good concept album is to use that concept in the entire album, not part of it! You did it very well on The Dark Saga. It made the album and the flow of the songs very consistent.

But enough of the SWTWC-bashing. There are some very high quality tracks on here, which actually helped boost my rating. Some of these include "Watching Over Me", "Disciples Of The Lie", and "Burning Times". "Watching Over Me" is a song written by Schaffer about a friend of his who was killed in a car accident. Matt Barlow's emotional lyrics give the song a lot of vitality, and the lyrics are very inspired and some of the best I've heard in any metal song. A very moving piece of work! Songs like "Disciples Of The Lie", "Burning Times", and "Stand Alone" feature fast riffing and drumming on their onset, to be followed by aggressive, but still clean, Barlow vocals. The aforementioned "Prophecy" is the best song of the "Something Wicked" Trilogy, with very melodic guitar riffing and almost soothing vocals from Barlow.

With that said, this album is solid, but not great. I just wish that Jon Schaffer had thought out the arrangement of the album before writing and recording it....

Make up your fucking minds! - 30%

UltraBoris, August 28th, 2002

This album is so hideously inconsistent. They practically alternate good and crap, over and over again.

"Burning Times" is well above average, and is the best song here - not quite as overtly thrashy as some of their early works, it still has a very nice riff set to it. Then "Melancholy" is just plain crap. Iced Earth should NOT be writing ballads.

Okay, we're back on track with "Disciples of the Lie" - more decent riffs, though the triplets do seem just a bit overused, at least the song moves along at efficient speed. Then, again - we drop the fuck dead. "Watching Over Me" makes "Melancholy" sound like "Freewheel Burning" - you thought that the ballads couldn't get any worse, this is just a fucking disaster. I really hate "tribute to dead people" songs (see also: Saxon's "Absent Friends") - why can't someone just fucking suck it up and write a riff-o-rama for someone, huh? (Baloff comes to mind)

Then the album just goes through mediocrity. "Stand Alone" - blah, it's okay, but far too short. Then again, if they went through THAT riff set any more I'd fall asleep. So it's too long. That's not a good sign when the song is both. "Consequences" - more crap, though it's better than "Sucking Over Me". "My Own Savior" is pretty good, but still - haven't I heard this riff before? Reaping Stone, more crap.

1776 is interesting. At least, they tried. Can't say it'll hold my attention after too many listenings, because what I really want is to fucking thrash. Twelve songs in the vein of "Burning Times" and "Disciples of the Lie" would be quite nice, thank you very much.

"Blessed Are You" - meh... really, nothing new here. The last three songs are apparently epic in some way, but really they are not. Yay for the hidden trilogy, it's just more triplets, more Barlow really getting over-emotional and losing all power, more stupid boring song constructions and random acoustic interludes and ... for the love of God, can't you write a thrash riff anymore!?!?