Reign In Metal
Zodiac : Metal Reputation : 88
Join date : 2012-01-05
Location : Vacationing in Hell
|Iced Earth - Plagues Of Babylon (2014) Album Review|| |
Iced Earth - Plagues Of Babylon (2014)
Century Media Records -- Running Time 61:07
Although I was always aware of the name, I was late to the party because I didn't get into Iced Earth properly until Tim 'Ripper' Owens joined as vocalist about a decade ago. Since then I have collected all of their albums and DVD's and even though founding member John Schaffer prefers to keep what I politely call a revolving door policy regarding other band members (over thirty have passed through them during the bands career) they still remain one of the most consistent US Power Metal bands with some excellent albums to their name. When vocalist Stu Block joined for previous album Dystopia I was unsure of his credentials but I have seen them live since and he has certainly proved his worth. I also thought last year's 'Live In Ancient Kourion' package was superb.!
I had high hopes for Iced Earth's eleventh studio album 'Plagues Of Babylon' especially as they now have the very talented Luke Appleton on bass and the returning Jon Dette on drums. On first listen I had given it a cautious thumbs up and was expecting the songs to grow and embed themselves as I listened more. Musicianship wise there are no complaints. Indeed, bass & drums are great and the guitar work of Schaffer & Troy Steele is quality as usual. Unfortunately what's missing are quality songs. Even though the first six songs continue the 'Something Wicked This Way Comes' saga and the rest are stand alone numbers, Iced Earth feel like they have released a very safe album this time around and it's, for want of a better word, boring! All the songs thump along at a very similar place and with the album being just over an hour in length (and several songs well over the seven minute mark) it just wears thin. Stu Block seems more confident this time than on Dystopia but his delivery is a little samey, trying to keep too closely to the style of Matt Barlow, and that doesn't help any of the songs stand out from one another. I also found myself hearing rehashed riffs and vocal melody lines from previous IE albums (as well as many from a certain band called Iron Maiden) and for a band so revered for their lyrical content some here feel incredibly cheesy! After many listens I'm just not feeling the love for 'Plagues Of Babylon' like I thought I would!
What does pick the album up though is final track proper, a cover of the Jimmy Webb country song 'Highwayman' that includes guest vocals from Russell Allen (Symphony X, Adrenaline Mob) and Michael Polusen (Volbeat). This is a great cover and even though the track perhaps doesn't sit comfortably with what has gone before it still wakes you up! 'I also have to mention 'Outro' which is a pointless and crass 25 seconds of swearing that does nothing to endear me to this release!
Of course the artwork and packaging are excellent as usual and a huge Iced Earth fan is going to find it difficult to choose one of the, what looks about, 22 different versions of 'Plagues Of Babylon' that are on offer, although I'll also add if you are a really big fan, getting all of them is not going to be cheap! I think had Iced Earth lightened this album by three songs it might have fared a little better but it's far from their best and when a cover gets your vote as best track then something is a little wrong. When I go to my collection 'Night Of The Stormrider' or 'The Glorious Burden' will still come out first! They have also just kicked off a massive tour to promote the album and I would definitely suggest you go and see them live, although judging by plenty of recent comments that seems to have got off to a shaky start as well!
Review written exclusively for Brutiful Entertainment by: Rick Tilley