Iced Earth - _Something Wicked This Way Comes_
(Century Media, 1998)
by: Paul Schwarz (4 out of 10)
_Something Wicked This Way Comes_ is the first full length from Iced Earth I have had the 'pleasure' of listening to. It's their sixth album, and I can't really see myself hunting down their back catalogue as a result. _SWTWC_ provides its listener with just over an hour's worth of nostalgic power metal anthems, half-cocked thrashy numbers and repetitive rock ballads. Not only is this not really the kind of thing I go in for, but _SWTWC_ does not throw in enough new twists and turns to keep me interested for 30 minutes, let alone over an hour, nor does it provide one with a selection of truly classic metal songs to digest and bathe in the glory of. Riffs are simple and repetitive, vocals are (though performed by an ably talented singer) irritatingly crooning and lacking in genuine angst. The music is ably performed, but the songs are uninteresting and treading a path so well trodden it's below sea level. What much of _SWTWC_ actually reminds me of is a collection of tracks from 80s movies like "Transformers", "Action Force", or "Nightmare on Elm Street". You 80s kids remember, when there was a fight or the credits would roll at the end, you'd hear those real simple drum beats, real simple guitar riffs, some indulgent solo over the top, then a eunuch would begin singing lyrics like: "Life's a bitch, life's a whore, nothing less, nothing more" (Iced Earth, "My Own Saviour"). Some of this material even takes its cue from classic Annihilator, but if I was going to listen to 80s metal of this sort I'd slam on the aforementioned Canadians or a band who were there and who have always been unashamedly metal, Manowar. Even Manowar or Annihilator's most embarrassing moments have some better qualities than Iced Earth's best efforts. If something "wicked", in its modern meaning, this way comes, it sure isn't this album -- this is something tried, tested and tired.

(article published 7/8/1998)


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