I’ve been a fan of Iced Earth for a really long time. This is not bragging but rather to point out how long the band has been around and how old I am! I had heard of them dating back to their self titled debut but didn’t get an album until “Burnt Offerings.” That album really impressed me but what followed was even better.
The Spawn-inspired “The Dark Saga” was a game changer for the band and for me as a listener. “Something Wicked This Way Comes” cemented Iced Earth as a favorite of mine. From there, it’s really been up and down for me. I was not keen on “Horror Show” and then singer Matt Barlow left, getting replaced by Ripper Owens. Owens did a great job on “The Glorious Burden” which became one of my favorite albums by the band.
Barlow then returns, then leaves again. Enter current singer Stu Block. Block’s history suggested he would sing more like Owens, but Iced Earth leader Jon Schaffer clearly wanted Block to sound more like Barlow. But if you’ve heard Schaffer sing, you realize each of those singers sound a LOT like he does. So why the fucking history lesson?
Many fans have really placed too much importance on Barlow being in the band. The reason that I was not keen on the first two albums with Block had nothing to do with his voice. The guy can fucking sing! The issue was that neither album measured up to the best moments of Iced Earth’s storied past. To be fair, it had been a while since I could really say that.
So now we have the third album with Block entitled “Incorruptible” and FINALLY I have some songs that I consider to be up there with anything Schaffer has written. “Raven Wing,” “The Veil,” the instrumental “Ghost Dance (Awaken the Ancestors)” and “Brothers” are each INCREDIBLE songs in their own way. “Raven Wing” is the typical Iced Earth power ballad, “The Veil” has one of the best choruses I’ve heard from the band in a long time, “Ghost Dance” has such a cool Arabian vibe and “Brothers” is Schaffer’s standard powerful track.
I am not completely sold on some of the other songs. “Great Heathen Army” and “Seven Headed Whore” are two clunkers for me. But there are too many excellent songs on this album for me to be upset over Iced Earth’s love of speed metal. I do need to mention the epic closing track “Clear the Way (December 13th, 1862)” which ranks with any of Schaffer’s past epics including “Dante’s Inferno.”
“Incorruptible” is the album that I’ve wanted Iced Earth to make for quite a while. It also proves that the absence of Barlow really doesn’t dictate the quality of the album. Fans of old who are still clinging to him being the band’s vocalist need to get the fuck over it and check out “Incorruptible.” This is the Iced Earth that I fell in love with all those years ago.
1. “Great Heathen Army”
2. “Black Flag”
3. “Raven Wing”
4. “The Veil”
5. “Seven Headed Whore”
6. “The Relic (Part 1)”
7. “Ghost Dance (Awaken The Ancestors)”
10. “Clear The Way (December 13th, 1862)”
Label: Century Media