Album Review – Iced Earth “Plagues Of Babylon” (Power/Thrash Metal)

Iced Earth “Plagues Of Babylon” (Power/Thrash Metal)Review By  Eddy Levitsky

Iced Earth is a true testament to metal music. Always staying true to its musical core, Jon Schaffer has delivered album after album without compromise. Iced Earth’s long career was plagued with many ups, downs and line-up changes but no one can argue that their previous endeavor, “Dystopia”, didn’t have an immense impact on the metal world pleasing both critics and fans. And lord knows that Iced Earth fans are hard to please!

Iced Earth’s brand new release has a lot to live up to and thankfully, they have not lost their momentum. Powerful and heavy, “Plagues of Babylon” is a truly worthy successor. Opening with the title track, a boasting 11 minute epic, we are immediately treated to Iced Earth’s familiar sound, marching drums and a layered, melodic guitar track that succeeds in creating anticipation before exploding into a very heavy and groovy old school thrash riff. In fact, this album features some of the best riffs in Jon Schaffer’s career. Democide, one of the album’s heaviest pieces, is reminiscent of “Burnt Offerings” while The Culling takes a page from Blessed Are You to create one of the catchiest anthems in their catalogue.

Marching drums and a layered, melodic guitar track that succeeds in creating anticipation before exploding into a very heavy and groovy old school thrash riff. In fact, this album features some of the best riffs in Jon Schaffer’s career. Democide, one of the album’s heaviest pieces, is reminiscent of “Burnt Offerings” while The Culling takes a page from Blessed Are You to create one of the catchiest anthems in their catalogue.

Stu Block was chosen to step in as vocalist after Mathew Barlowe’s departure, and quickly managed to dissipate any doubts the fans had concerning Iced Earth’s future. Yet again, he delivers powerful vocal lines and harmonies that would please fans old and new. From the high pitched screams on Resistance to the emotional delivery in If I Could See You, the vocals are truly masterfully done. Being a longtime fan of Iced Earth and Into Eternity both, I still feel like there is a considerable amount of restraint in his vocals and personally I would love to see more experimentation with vocal lines on the upcoming albums.

All in all, this album is heavy, melodic, has that one obligatory ballad, great album art and pretty much covers everything that one can expect from Iced Earth. Even though the second half of the album never lives up to the sheer energy of the first half, this is a worthy successor to “Dystopia” and a great addition to the Iced Earth discography.

www.icedearth.com 

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