Iced Earth - _Overture of the Wicked_
(SPV Records, 2007)
by: Jeremy Ulrey (5.5 out of 10)
Some loved 2004's _Glorious Burden_, some hated it, while some thought Tim "Ripper" Owens the perfect replacement for band casualty Matt Barlow, and some considered it a huge misstep. I'm not sure that the three year wait for new material is going to quell any of those arguments on the basis of _Overture of the Wicked_.

Of the four songs on board, only one is an original -- "Ten Thousand Strong" -- and frankly it's one of the more inscrutably generic of songwriter Jon Schaffer's otherwise illustrious career. Even Ripper has a hard time wrapping his voice around it with any sort of conviction. One almost gets the impression that Jon really just wanted the EP to consist of the other three tracks alone -- re-recordings of the "Something Wicked" trilogy -- but someone at the label convinced him no one would buy it without new material and, tail between legs, Jon threw together a few riffs in between takes during the re-recording sessions.

The trilogy itself is pretty well done, if a bit unnecessary. Ripper has a greater range than Matt Barlow, but Barlow seemed to have a greater sense of pathos to his delivery than Owens is capable of, and the differences more or less cancel each other out. Anyway, ardent supporters and fanboy collectors may get a gas out of picking over the similarities and differences, but I'll stick to the objective indifference that this filler EP elicits from the casual fan. Besides, these EPs can't stay in print forever, and Schaffer's not the kind of guy to consider anything he's put his name on disposable, so I wouldn't be surprised to see it appended as a bonus disc to the upcoming _Something Wicked..._ sequel.


(article published 23/6/2007)

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