Iced Earth - Box of The Wicked
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As their final release on SPV now that they have re-signed with Century Media, Jon Schaffer's grand vision for his 'Something Wicked' epic is now collected in one place, complete with a few extras to try to please the fans who bought the individual releases. Box of The Wicked compiles the two albums which make up Schaffer's tale, Framing Armageddon and The Crucible of Man, their respective EPs Overture of The Wicked and I Walk Among You, and a bonus EP of unreleased tracks into a single box, at a budget price, with a poster and an extra booklet. The two albums and the two previously-issued EPs are the retail digipak editions (indeed they don't even have words to the effect of "not to be sold separately" on the backs) and the bonus EP is housed in a thin cardboard sleeve. The box is a clam-shell type, but is not made of cardboard thick enough for the depth required to hold four digipaks stacked on top of each other, and as such is too weak at the sides, bowing outwards as soon as the celophane is removed. The bonus EP contains four tracks. One is a re-recording of A Charge To Keep from the first album but with Matt Barlow, singer on the second album, replacing Tim "Ripper" Owens' vocals. The other three are old Iced Earth songs recorded live at the Graspop Festival in 2008. All are unreleased, but the recording quality is poor and all three were on the Alive In Athens triple live album, which featured Barlow. Live tracks with Ripper would have been a much more unique prospect. For fans who already have these four CDs, the new EP is not enough to demand parting with more money for this box. For fans who don't yet have them this is the cheapest way to get them, with the bonus EP providing some extra interest. The low-quality box, unimaginative bonus tracks and minimal-effort extra booklet make the whole thing a pretty empty gesture though.
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