Iced Earth - The Reckoning EP - 2003 - Reviewed by Nailer
1. Sookie Sookie 2. Game of Love 3. Shakin' All Over
The events of Sept. 11 had a large effect on the band Iced Earth. Longtime vocalist Matt Barlow decided during the making of the latest record, "The Glorious Burden", to quit the band for other career interests. This left the band's founding guitarist Jon Schaffer at ground zero without a vocalist and the potential backlash of the fervent IE fan base. Enter recently replaced vocalist-- Ripper Owens of Judas Priest fame.
With an obvious nod to the classic, British "Trooper" image of Iron Maiden, IE's EP "The Reckoning" features their mascot in American Revolutionary War-era uniform carrying the "Don't Tread On Me" flag over the dead opposition soldiers. It a gorgeous cover by Leo Hao that could have just as well represented Schaffer proudly carrying the flag for American power metal. He's been doing it for years.
Given past recordings of songs like "1776" and "Ghost Of Freedom", Jon's patriotism needn't be questioned. The Sept 11 events though, fueled his energy into the equally historical and topical military themes of the latest record. I found all the songs on the EP to be high caliber metal.
The Reckoning (Don't Tread On Me) opens the EP with Jon's familiar staccato, galloping guitar work. Nothing inventive here, but it's a style that I think has been sadly missing from metal for a while. Ripper has nothing to prove with top-notch vocals and I love the chorus with its inspiring vocal chants similar to the German speed bands. "When the Eagle Cries" is an unplugged power ballad about the aftermath of the twin towers destruction that you'll either write it off as more maudlin patriotic sentiment or it'll give you goose bumps.
"Valley Forge" is a searing lamentation that juxtaposes the hardships of the Revolutionary War soldier with the modern individuals that take their freedom for granted. As Jon has said before, "you’ve got a bunch of people running around today who don’t give a shit, and are spoiled brats who take for granted everything they have." "Hollow Man", about struggling with inner demons, is definite IE and a good closing number.
I don't think the new record deal with Steamhammer (SPV) had any affect on the sound or personalities of the band, but I do feel that with the addition of Ripper Owens, Iced Earth will be even more accessible to metalheads. Here's looking forward to "The Glorious Burden" and the 32-minute epic Gettysburg (1863).
About this Writer: Frank Hill // Frank Hill has been at this site since its slimy, crying birth in '03. He was born on National Metal Day--11/11 and will turn his hearing aids up to 11 when he's 111. He secretly listens to a lot of old Country and Doo-Wop tunes and wants to start a cyberband with lead vocals by Robot Plant. He is still trying to figure out what Judas Priest meant by "paratamize you". If you read this, then he salutes you.
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