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  STEVE GÖLDBY'S METAL CHRONICLES

ICED EARTH
'Plagues Of Babylon'
(Century Media)
Release Date: Monday 6th January 2013


steve goldby



iced earth

The mighty Iced Earth return with a new album for the new year, 'Plagues Of Babylon', and what a stormer it is too.

This album is twelve tracks in two parts and the first six tracks are the latest instalment in the 'Something Wicked' saga; the next six are standalone songs that include a spellbinding cover of 'Highwayman', originally written by American songwriter Jimmy Webb.

For those who are unfamiliar with the 'Something Wicked' saga, I will be doing a large feature explaining the whole concept in depth during 2014 but in a nutshell, it is a tale that begins with the origins of man, by way of descension upon the primitive Setian race, all the way to its downfall as paved by the Setians' act of vengeance.

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It discusses humanity's evil intentions that begin to backfire in their last days, with the Setian messiah Set Abominae serving as the catalyst to its self-destruction. The 'Something Wicked' tracks are spread over several Iced Earth albums and the saga started in 1998 with three songs from the 'Something Wicked This Way Comes' album.

Events parallel to those in the Bible (similarly the Tower of Babel), and elsewhere throughout history, occurred in order to further bring about humanity's downfall.

Spine-tingling stuff and the perfect soundtrack to this epic and ongoing story starts right here with album title track 'Plagues Of Babylon' which underlines how far Iced Earth have come since Stu Block took over vocal duties and enabled the band to tour full-time.

The title track is sinister, anthemic and gripping and followed up with 'Democide' with it's menacing intro and scorching riffery. The band are on superb form here and Jon Schaffer is becoming a top producer as well as iconic leader of Iced Earth.

'The Culling' sweeps you away with it's speedy and ferocious intro before a chorus of power simply takes over your senses. This track is one of the highlights of a great album.

The dark mood of 'Among The Living Dead' subtly turns into a celebratory one and here is another chorus that will carry you away with it's hook while 'Resistance' and 'The End?' are more than worthy to be part of the story.

I've purposely not commented on the lyrical content of the six 'Something Wicked' tracks because as mentioned above, they form part of the saga and we will be producing the definitive guide to 'Something Wicked' in 2014.

But I will say that I love the question mark at the end of the sixth track. The End? No, definitely not. Jon will carry on this saga and it will probably never end. Which is great.

And so to part two of the album and we begin with 'If I Could See You', which reminds me of 'I Died For You' in it's speed and tempo changes. It's a highly emotive number with a hard middle eight and a blistering build up to the chorus and is sure to become a live favourite.

One thing I love about this album is that Iced Earth have not played it safe and stuck with familiar templates. They have instead stepped out of their comfort zone in several places and on 'Cthulhu', this is demonstrated in full. It's got a different feel to the more established material and this is testament to how the band have risen during this last two years.

'Peacemaker' is a stunning track and here again the band have kicked and screamed their way out of the comfort zone and done something very different to all that went before. There's clearly a great story behind this track so next time we speak to a band member, we'll get the lowdown on that. For now, muscially this is the track of the album.

The guitar solo in 'Parasite' stands out for all the right reasons and 'Spirit Of The Times' is a 'lighter's in the air' rousing moment that will surely go down as an Iced Earth classic when it is aired on the forthcoming world tour, the dates of which are below.

I had a listen to the original 'Highwayman' by Jimmy Webb (with Mark Knopfler) before I played the Iced Earth version and there is simply no comparison. Iced Earth have taken this track and totally metallized it and made it infinitely more listenable. Jon Schaffer takes the lead vocal here as well, which is very noteworthy indeed. A great album closer.

All in all, this is a seriously great album that marks the latest step in the band's journey.

Spotify are currently streaming 'Plagues Of Babylon' in full.

Tracklisting:
1. Plagues Of Babylon
2. Democide
3. The Culling
4. Among The Living Dead
5. Resistance
6. The End?
7. If I Could See You
8. Cthulhu
9. Peacemaker
10. Parasite
11. Spirit Of The Times
12. Highwayman

Iced Earth are:
Jon Schaffer - rhythm guitar, acoustic guitar, lead guitar, backing vocals, lead vocals on 'Highwayman'
Troy Seele - lead guitar
Stu Block - lead vocals, backing vocals
Luke Appleton - bass guitar
Raphael Saini - drums

'Plagues Of Babylon' was recorded at Principal Studios in Senden, Germany and was mixed at NHow Studios in Berlin, Germany.

Guest vocals on 'Highwayman' were laid down by Volbeat frontman Michael Poulsen and Symphony X/Adrenaline Mob singer Russell Allen.

Guest vocals on 'Plagues Of Babylon', 'Among The Living Dead', 'Democide', 'Resistance' and 'If I Could See You' are by Blind Guardian vocalist Hansi Kürsch. The cover and additional artwork was created by Eliran Kantor.


iced earth

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30.12.13

Steve's Heavy Metal Chronicles index page...







WACKEN WINTER NIGHTS IS HEAVY METAL WONDERLAND

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Wacken Winter Nights 2018 takes place between February 23rd and 25th 2018 and the great news is that you can now experience a full-on, top class German Metal Festival easily and affordably.

It only takes an hour to fly to Hamburg from London and we've had longer journeys than that within the capital and they were certainly more expensive than the £33 air ticket that just appeared in our 'flights to Wacken Winter Nights' search.

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Wacken Winter Nights is organised by the same team who are responsible for the world's greatest Metal festival, Wacken-Open-Air and the 2018 bill includes Skyclad, Orphaned Land, Elvenking, Finntroll, Grave Digger, Aeverium, Comes Vagantes, Coppelius, Corvus Corax, Die Pressgëng, Elvellon, Heimataerde, Hell-O-Matic, Ignis Fatuu, Ingrimm, Irdorath, Johnny Deathshadow, Krayenzeit, Letzte Instanz, Mr Hurley und die Pulveraffen, Pampatut, Pat Razket, Schandmaul, Sündenrausch, The Aberlour's, The Moon And The Nightspirit, Torfrock, Visions Of Atlantis, Vroudenspil, Wind Rose and more.



Besides this rich billing of superb Metal bands, there is so much more to see in the festival area including the medieval market and also the walking acts and jugglers you will meet at the theme worlds, including Robert Blake, three-time World Cup winner of street magic.

Wacken Winter Nights is something not to be missed and you can check out the amazing ticket and accommodation prices right here.

We just priced up the whole four day trip with hotels, flights, shuttles and festival tickets for less than £300 and we don't think you will get a better value festival than that, anywhere.

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MetalTalk recently sat down with Wacken founder and owner Thomas Jensen and that interview will be online next week and it's a fascinating insight into how Wacken originated from nothing to become the world's premiere Heavy Metal event.

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Wacken 2018 takes place from 2nd to 4th August 20218 and as with Wacken Winter Nights, if you have never experienced all it has to offer, then you owe it to yourself to remedy that.

Already announced for Wacken 2018 are Judas Priest, Nightwish, Running Wild (exclusive), Arch Enemy, Dirkschneider, Doro (Special Anniversary Show), In Extremo, Sepultura, Amorphis, Amaranthe, Firewind, W.A.R., Belphegor, Mantar, Knorkator, Deserted Fear, Watain, Night Demon, Epica, Knorkator, Belphegor, Firewind, Deserted Fear and many more and we'll have more Wacken 2018 announcements during December.

As well as being the greatest Heavy Metal festival in the world, it is without a doubt the Mecca of Metal and the one thing that every single person who loves our music should have on their bucket list.

For 2018, MetalTalk have joined forces with Wacken-Open-Air to help you get to Wacken easily and inexpensively and you can peruse the ticket and travel options right here.

If you are interested in going to Wacken 2018 and have questions, please fill out the form below and we will contact you with answers to all your enquiries. You are under no obligation whatsoever by filling this form out. We won't add you to any mailing lists or send you loads of spam - all we will do is help you get to Wacken as easily and inexpensively as possible.

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