While Iced Earth never made the leap from the second division to the premier league of metal bands, they certainly had fun trying.
The Florida group may have arrived a decade too late. Everything from their sound to their logo is firmly attached to the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, and they would have likely found greater success had they co-existed with Maiden's golden era of the early to mid-eighties rather than the self-hating grunge era of the early to mid-nineties.
As it is, on their debut album Iced Earth, the band earns immediate attention with their hyper-fast staccato riffing, which appears in one form or another on almost every track. Jon Schaffer and Randy Shawver's impressively accurate guitar segments sound like metal variations on the opening Bonanza theme riff, whether the world asked for it or not, and Iced Earth quickly establish it as their signature sound.
When the band attach their guitar skills to song structures strong enough to support them, as on the opening title track Iced Earth, Life And Death and Funeral, some excellent power metal is produced. When the songs are not as well developed they are not as memorable, but never less than solid.
While there is no doubting the speed and accuracy of the Iced Earth's rhythm guitar work, the soloing leaves a lot to be desired. Neither the solos themselves nor their delivery are up to the standard of metal's elite, unfortunately reducing the album's stature.
Iced Earth deserve praise for avoiding the over-long disease and limiting the album to the best tracks that they could offer. The package is far from perfect, but it's an honest attempt that is never less than interesting.
Jon Schaffer - Rhythm Guitar
Randy Shawver - Lead Guitar
Gene Adam - Vocals
Dave Bell - Bass
Mike McGill - Drums
Songlist (ratings out of 10):
1. Iced Earth - 9
2. Written On The Walls - 7
3. Colors - 7
4. Curse The Sky - 7
5. Life And Death - 8
6. Solitude - n/a (short instrumental)
7. Funeral - 8
8. When The Night Falls - 7
Produced by Tom Morris and Jon Schaffer.
Engineered by Tom Morris.
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