Tom Hayes 29-March-2001 overview

Iced Earth at a Glance

For a brief period in the early to mid 1990's, a music movement known as "progressive thrash" thrived in the underground clubs and magazines of the day. Take two parts Metallica riffing, one part Iron Maiden song craft and one part Fates Warning style invention and you have an idea what the sound entails. One of the best at this style were Florida's own Iced Earth.

If the idea of steel axes, mammoth fur coats, bushy beards and iron brassieres makes you swoon, then Iced Earth is the band for you. They are closer in concept to the seriousness of Norse Mythology and Wagnerian operas than the silly prepubescent machinations of clowns like Manowar. So no longer does one have to hide in dark corners and look over the shoulder to listen to music such as this. Iced Earth makes it respectable! By their second album, Night of the Stormrider, Iced Earth had honed their craft. Each song contains speedy riff after riff and plenty of metronomic activity to challenge the discerning listener. The vocals are clean but deep and heavy. Three years later saw the birth of Burnt Offerings and a minor classic of heavy metal and one of the high water marks for progressive thrash. The lengthy three part closer "Dante's Inferno" is the highlight with close to ten movements. There are many changes of mood and tone. Atmospheric synthesizers are offset by bone crushing mammoth metal riffs. Soft melodic singing beset by brutal screams. It's a trip to hell you won't forget!

As with many progressive metal bands, the limits of the style ensure a short-lived creative cycle. Without adding more instruments, references and styles, the sound can become one-dimensional. By their fourth album, Iced Earth had returned to a more heavy sound and less emphasis on imagination. All the same, if thrash metal with a few twists and turns sounds enticing, then Iced Earth is a great band to start with. Begin with Burnt Offerings, quite possibly the finest album in the genre.

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