Produced by Jim Morris
As a precursor to the eagerly awaited and equally ambitious pair of albums fully expanding the Something Wicked concept story, this new single sees much-lauded American metallers Iced Earth re-record the classic trilogy first released on Something Wicked This Way comes in 1998.
Of course, the major difference in these new versions is the voice, as wildly popular vocalist Matthew Barlow (now of Pyramaze) has been replaced by former Winters Bane/Judas Priest wailer Tim "Ripper" Owens. Elsewhere in the line-up Brent Smedley returns on drums and the usual lead guitarist issues continue. But before all that, the first track on this EP is a brand new song, set to be featured on the first of the new albums, Framing Armageddon, due out in September.
Ten Thousand Strong wastes absolutely no time at all. The first bar sees a typical Jon Schaffer riff slam straight into being alongside a trademark Tim Owens scream. You know where you are with a good Ripper scream, even if it does sound like you've joined him half way through. Subject matter and basic rhythms are typical Iced Earth stuff, but the chorus is more melodic than usual. It is, of course, heavy and fast, and Ripper gets in his fair share of screams, but the chorus is something new to Iced Earth. They've always had hooky choruses, but not as melodic as this. Some fans may not approve, but the band haven't strayed too far from their normal sound and it won't take too much of an open mind to embrace this slight addition.
The re-recorded trilogy, which will be exclusive to this single, provides newcomers with an overview of the Something Wicked story, and gives old fans something different as these versions, apart from the new voice, are much harder, sharper and more aggressive than the originals. The solos you will hear on the re-recordings are handled by Tim Mills, owner and founder of Bare Knuckle Pickups. Tim had originally joined the band as their full-time lead guitarist, but problems and commitments with his company meant he had to withdraw in March. He has now been replaced by Troy Seele, who will play on all forthcoming tour dates and has recorded several solos for the albums. Whether or not these are better than the originals will come down to personal preference, but Ripper stamps himself all over them with authority and if you liked The Glorious Burden, these will be a welcome treat.
Following a few festival appearances this summer Iced Earth will return to the studio to finish off the album, and after that comes out in September England can look forward to finally seeing them live again (2004's tour was cancelled for Schaffer's back surgery) when they support Heaven And Hell for eleven shows.
“ heavy and fast ”
Tracklist: Ten Thousand Strong / Prophecy / Birth of The Wicked / The Coming Curse
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