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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.