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A good sample of what's to come - 80%

stickyshooZ, October 3rd, 2004

Up until the release of this single, Iced Earth had been laying low for some time. Everything was changing so fast; the band’s beloved singer, Matt Barlow, had announced his departure to pursue a career in criminal justice; Larry Tarnowski had given up his position on lead guitar to call it quits; Ralph Santolla was recruited for lead guitar; and the notorious vocalist, Tim “Ripper” Owens had joined the band to fill in Barlow’s enormous shoes. Owens’ joining the band drew a lot of attention from everyone. This was the most talked-about line up change at the time.

Jon Schaffer’s decision to recruit Owens was surrounded by skepticism, even from the long time fans of the Judas Priest vocalist who had originally “replaced” Rob Halford. Everyone pondered; how in the world could anyone ever replace Barlow? The majority thought that Ripper’s style wasn’t even right for Iced Earth, although Jon Schaffer insisted otherwise. Will the “Ripper” make the upcoming full-length a glorious victory, or will he be one of Iced Earth’s burdens? Let’s find out.

‘The Reckoning’ starts off quietly, and just when you thought it was safe, the galloping rhythm rides in hard and tramples the little tea party you thought you’d be having upon hearing the opening. Ride hard, rhythm! Slaughter all the terrorists! Pillage their homes and crush their hateful souls! This is one of the aspects that I love about Iced Earth – the thrashy and hard hitting rhythms and explosive drumming.

This rhythm doesn’t ride in with just an ordinary thrash sword… it rides in with a heavy thrash sword imbued with the power of melody! Once the song gets a little more into it, the melodic properties flare up and present themselves outside of some crazy headbanging palm muted strumming. Halford erupts with raging screams and shrieks on this song and, wait…what…this can’t be right? The notes say that Tim Owens is singing, but how is that possible? No one but Halford could do those high-pitched shrieks!

Damn, Tim Owens never sounded this good in Judas Priest! Ripper really can’t be blamed for the shitty song writing on the Priest albums, because he didn’t have much to do with writing it. Priest, you had an awesome singer that could have sounded like Halford and you BLEW IT! Erase all conceptions you have of Ripper while he was in Judas Priest, because Judas Priest did him no justice compared to his singing in Iced Earth. Given that Tim Owens is not Matt Barlow, it’s obvious that he will do a good job at filling in for him.

‘When The Eagle Cries (Unplugged)’ is probably the most melancholic track on the single, aside from ‘Hollow Man.’ Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past three years, then you’d know that the phrase ‘When The Eagle Cries’ is a reference to 9/11 (“the day the eagle cried”). This track alone brought on a lot of criticism, because people began assuming Jon Schaffer was trying to cash-in on this tragedy or promote some kind of American arrogance (some people even claimed it was promoting imperialism!), despite the fact that he’s written patriotic material prior to 9/11 (‘1776’ and ‘Ghost of Freedom’ being prime examples). Musically, this is perfect for portraying the sorrow and aftermath of such a colossal incident with smooth piano and acoustic guitar riffs that introduce it. This version is unplugged, so don’t expect any heavy riffing – there are only calm and focused riffs on every instrument.

My only complaint with this song is that the chorus is repeated way too many times. For obvious reasons, this song hits home with me. Matt Barlow’s sad backing vocals only make it that more melancholic, as if the song reopens the wound some felt when it was announced that he was leaving. By no means, is this a headbanger. This is just one of those songs you listen to, reflect upon, and take more seriously. Even those who don’t like metal should be able to appreciate this (maybe even like it).

‘Valley Forge’ starts off with a majestic and “foresty” acoustic guitar riff, and then the song kicks off with a punch in the face to heavy distorted crunch. Oh, great, a real heavy metal hitter! Bang that head along with the mid-paced chugging rhythm and down strokes! The inspirational lyrics tell the story of the soldier who suffered at Valley Forge as well as pays homage to those who “kept our freedom free” and reminds us not to take the lives we have for granted. You better like playing air guitar, because with a blazing fast solo like this, you will be forced to play by nature!

This track is way more tame than The Reckoning, but not nearly as calm as When the Eagle Cries, or Hollow Man. People outside of metal, as well as inside, should be able to stomach this one easily.

Hollow Man is on the more depressive side. Think along the lines of ‘I Died For You’ off of the Dark Saga album and you’re almost there. This is probably the worst song on the single, given that first of all, there isn’t much differentiating this song from past deplorable songs written by Mr. Schaffer, and secondly, there isn’t a whole lot of energy to it. As usual, the distorted riffs are bone crushing and possessed with atonality, but I just couldn’t FEEL the passion in its entirety as I could with songs like ‘I Died For You’ or ‘Watching Over Me.’ I think what spoils the feeling of sorrow is the acoustic guitar that is used in different spots throughout the song.

To me, it doesn’t give me a clear picture of what sorrow and sadness really are. The time changes are a little too fast on part of the acoustic guitar that I just can’t imagine a composer saying to themselves “Yeah, I felt pretty pumped up for a brief moment while I was crying with my head in my hands.” The distorted guitar parts are absolutely perfect with the mid-paced parts that also manage to slowly chug along, but the acoustic parts are what may throw some listeners off. This is not a bad song by any means, but I don’t expect it to become an Iced Earth classic anytime soon. This is another song that most people who are not into metal should be able to enjoy, as well as fans of the genre.

Since The Glorious Burden is already released, I’d say purchasing this isn’t really necessary. When I bought this, it had just been released and the new album was not out yet, so at the time it was a big thing. Other than good music, the single comes with a cool sticker which features the artwork for The Glorious Burden. At this point in time, I’d say purchasing this is only worth it if you’re a collector or a die hard fan. If you want to hear this material with all of the other songs then just buy The Glorious Burden.

This is going to be fucking GREAT - 92%

langstondrive, November 22nd, 2003

Upon hearing the 4 new tracks contained on this single, I am fully confident in Iced Earth's ability to come out with another ass kicking album. On here are two ballads, a thrasher and a strange half and half mix. The ballads are "When the Eagle Cries" and "Hollow Man". The former is a fairly simplistic song with a piano arrangement. The lyrics are not very well done on this song, the subject matter is far too obvious (Sept.11) and leaves nothing to the imagination or thought. Basically a harmless ballad.

Hollow Man is better, with a definite "Melancholy" type sound to it. In that, I mean that the verses are very soft and emotional (Ripper sounds great on this track) and heavier during the chorus. As I am not the biggest fan of Iced Earth ballads, this one seems a bit boring to me, but is still fairly well done. The strange song is Valley Forge. It has more of a rock feel, but turns into a metal song at parts. Ripper sings about a soldier and his emotion comes through well (not overdone, like Barlow tended to do). Much better then the two ballads.

Although it is the first song, I have saved the best for last. The Reckoning is without a doubt, one of the best Iced Earth songs ever written. Period. Riffs galore, it sounds almost like "The Hunter" meets "Painkiller". Ripper's vocals are absolutely insane on this song and the chorus has a Blind Guardian-esque feel to it. I have listened to this about 40 billion times so far, and it has yet to get old because there are a few good elements and great riffs to back up Ripper's incredible singing.

I can't wait to see what the full album will be like...

A glimpse of what IE fans have to look forward to. - 75%

icedray, November 13th, 2003

Iced Earth releases 4 songs on this single and gives us a preview of what is to come on January 13, 2004 with The Glorious Burden. Well, after hearing this I can say that we will get some same ole Iced Earth but I think we shall also will hear a bit of new stuff as well if this single is proof.

I can sum this up by saying that 2 of the songs are typical Iced Earth while the other 2 offer something a bit different (nothing drastic mind you).

Lets start with the samey songs:

Reckoning - A galloping IE number. You have heard the riffs before but what makes this shine is vocals by Tim (no longer Ripper?) Owens. Man, can this guy belt out a tune. Nothing against Barlow (who I like a lot) but he can't touch Owens when he is on. Plus, Owens has more range and more control with his voice.

Hollow Man - As already stated the typical IE ballad which in of itself makes this a disappointment for me but not because that reason. I like IE ballads even if they may simple. They are usually catchy and well done and this is no exception. The disappointment comes from hearing Jon talk about this song so much over the last couple of years making it sound like his masterpiece when in reality.........its just another IE ballad.

The bit different songs:

Valley Forge - Ok, now this is very cool for a couple of reasons. Jon seems to get a bit more complex with the riff and move away from the simple gallops. Second - Holy Shit! Is that a guitar solo?! Yes, it is and what a relief. Hopefully, the new disc will have some more. Its a good solo, nothing great, but good. Santolla seems competent.

When The Eagle Cries (acoustic) - Another IE ballad? Yes, but not your typical IE ballad. This has a bit more melody and depth to the song and Owens shines on the vocals, again. Yes, the lyrics are bit cheesy but as an American, its still kind of emotional. Lets face it, 9/11 will not be forgotten. Be interesting to hear the electric version.

Anyway, overall there seems to be some hope that IE will vary it a bit with TGB but will also deliver the IE goods that we have come to expect. This has perked my interest, thats for sure.

Can't Wait Until January - 85%

BadOmen, November 9th, 2003

I picked this up after hearing the excerpts that were posted online. It was well worth the $7 to hear the full versions. Tim pulls off an incredible performance on The Reckoning. Sounding better then ANYTHING he did with Priest. I agree with jesusatan when he said Tim finally nailed the Painkiller scream. Awsome...awsome song.

Next we have When The Eagle Cries. While the music may be good, the lyrics are by far the worst thing Schaffer has ever come up with. It sounds like something I would have written in 2nd grade. I'm not sure what he was thinking when he wrote them. Maybe because they're easier for the average American to understand and follow...I'm not sure. But what I do know is that they stink.

Next up is Valley Forge. A pretty cool song with a kickass solo. Sounds very Demons & Wizard-ish. Maybe because Jon was writting the D&W songs at the same time. Who knows, who cares...good song.

Last up is Hollow Man. Barlow always used alittle too much emotion on ballads for my taste, but Tim sings it perfectly. Your average IE ballad. Nothing more, nothing less.

Yea, so if you have 7-8 bux to spair I recommend up pick it up. If you get the same version I did it comes with a free sticker. \m/

Kick ass! - 87%

peepsbucket, November 6th, 2003

I got this single because I couldn't wait to hear what the new Iced Earth was gonna be like. At first I had my doubts, but I got my ass kicked. I got totally thrashed by Christy's insane drumming, Tim's exceptional vocals, and Jon's best riffs since Burnt Offerings.
Tim isn't as good as Barlow but he's pretty damn good, and certainly better than Iced Earth's earlier singers.
The production here is reminiscent of Something Wicked, which is certainly an improvement over the muddy sound of Horror Show.

The best song on here is obviously The Reckoning with it's blazing fast riffs.

When the Eagle Cries (unplugged) is slow and gives you a nice break from the insane speed.

Valley Forge obviously has a lot of Maiden influence and kicks total ass just like Maiden.

Hollow Man has some great heavy and mellow parts, a damn catchy chorus, and it closes with a great solo.

Excellent single overall, but it suffers from what all single suffer from - being too short. This is just a taste of what's to come, and I like it a lot so far.

This pwns pretty hard! - 80%

Minion, October 31st, 2003

Ah, yes. Iced Earth's first single, and our first official taste of the 'new' Iced Earth is every bit as good as I had expected it to be, and it succeeded in pwning my face hard. Matt Barlow is gone, and because of that I didn't know what to think of the band now. But after listening to this, my faith has been restored.

First, the vocals. Matt Barlow, one of the greatest singers in metal, resigned in June, saying he was tired of the heavy metal lifestyle and went off to become a police officer. His replacement is none other than Tim 'Ripper' Owens, formerly of Judas Priest. And let me tell you something: he is fucking amazing. His range surpasses Barlow's, and is a perfect fit for the music. His screeching highs and commanding lows are incredible. He sounds like Matt without sounding too much like Matt, if you know what I mean. Ralph Santolla is a great guitarist to boot, delivering some of the best solos Iced Earth has seen since Night Of The Stormrider.

The music. Now, the album gets such a score because of its short length. Every song on here is incredible in its own right, even the somewhat mediocre Hollow Man. Matt Barlow even makes an appearance, which is cool in its own right.

We start off with The Reckoning, the best song on here. It has a totally fucking headbanging riff, and The Ripper completely gets right up into your face with his Halford-style vocals and practically screams at you, "Commence headbanging, motherfucker!" This wouldn't be out of place on NOTSR, and it is one of Iced Earth's best songs to date, IMO.

Next we have a ballad, When The Eagle Cries. This is about 9/11, and is an unplugged version of the song (the version that will appear on the full-length album will not be unplugged). This is a bit dissapointing, with a repetitive chorus, but Tim shows that he can be just as emotional as Barlow, and the guitar sounds beautiful. Matt Barlow appears on backing vocals on this track, which is pretty cool. This is pretty average, but it's still a good song.

Valley Forge is next, and is the second best song here. Everything owns on this one: The vocals, the riffage, the solo, everything. Oh, and the solo: Ralph Santolla serves up what may be the band's greatest solo ever. Tim's vocal delivery pwns my face yet again, as does the chord progression. This one here's a keeper!

This is the low point of the single, Hollow Man. While it is by no means a bad song, it stirs up memories of Melancholy (Holy Martyr), and, as you may have gathered by now, I don't like ballads. Anyway, this one is pretty forgettable.

This is just a small sample of what Iced Earth have in store for us. Don't miss out on The Glorious Burden.

Iced Earth are back! - 79%

Nightcrawler, October 30th, 2003

They sure are. The Reckoning is classic late Iced Earth, following the same style as they have from The Dark Saga and forward. This obviously bears the most resemblance to their latest studio effort, Horror Show, mostly in guitar tone and production, but all the promises that Jon Schaffer has made about this new one seem to be true. The songs are very powerful and deal with historical and patriotic lyrics yet they are quite personal, which is done very well.
The songwriting isn't anything new and original, but for what it is, it's excellent, just like we've come to expect from the band. Now, the question on everyone's minds is probably how Tim Owens, formerly of Judas Priest, handles the vocal duties in Iced Earth. I am glad to say that he, just as I had always expected, fits perfectly in with the late musical style of Iced Earth, and easily fills the shoes of Matt Barlow (who actually does some backing vocals on here!).
And just like Jon promised, he has brought out a vocal range within Tim we didn't think existed. On the title track, he pulls off some completely insane and truly sinister high-pitched work throughout the entire song, which literally had me shouting "holy fucking shit!" at first listen.

The Reckoning (Don't Tread On Me) is by far the best song on here, and is the song most reminiscent of Horror Show, with the semi-operatic backing vocals on the chorus and also the style on the riffwork, which is totally in the vein of Wolf or Jack (both style and quality wise). And to boot, we have Ripper's menacing vocal performance, which totally makes the song.

The second track is an acoustic ballad called When The Eagle Cries (unplugged- so apparently the studio version is not acoustic). This is the second greatest song on the album, mostly thanks some mesmerizing work on acoustics and also very nicely done piano parts, and most of all a very powerful chorus. Tim Owens again really makes the song what it is; it's obvious that he's the right man for this band.
The actual song is a pretty traditional Iced Earth ballad, but thanks to some great vocal lines it is totally made a standout.

Valley Forge is also pretty damn solid. The acoustics under the verses provide a cool atmosphere, and the transition into the heavy chorus is done very well. Ralph Santolla also pulls of a magnificent leadwork on this one.

Finally, we have Hollow Man, which is the only downer on here. The vocals seem to drag on at times, and the backing choir parts that appear a few times during the verses are extremely cheesy. Actually, the song isn't bad, you kinda get used to it eventually, it just isn't nearly as interesting as the others, despite a great chorus.
Also, the acoustics are getting rather old by now. And that is one of my biggest concerns for The Glorious Burden; that maybe they tried too hard to make it emotional and powerful, and thus overused atmosphere-enhancing elements like acoustics and maybe did too many ballads. We'll just have to wait and see, hopefully this is not the case.
I'm really looking forward to the release of The Glorious Burden, and judging from the material on this single, it is probably going to rule. Let's just hope they use the acoustics more sparingly and bring out some more heavy shit like The Reckoning.