Sound — 10
Iced Earth's first true masterpiece. This album sounds awesome! The layering of the guitars and all is near perfect, the drums come though very very nicely. The whole album is very punchy and in your face. They sound very remaniscant of Iron Maiden with some of Pantera and Slayer thrown in.
Lyrics — 8
The lyrics themselves are masterful, telling the story of a man who questions and rejects religion, and him becoming an evil person, then finally his accepting his fate in hell. For the most part, they fit the music perfectly, agressive and violent when the music is, then softer on the few short acoustic tracks (Before The Vision, Reaching The End). The only bad thing I have to say about the album is that the singer, James Greeley, is not too great at actual singing, however, his growling and screaming is masterful, reaching the greatness of Rob Halford and surpasses Phil Anslemo for growling.
Overall Impression — 10
This is one of Iced Earths greatest albums ever! Songs are: 01. Angel's Holocost - opening with an assault of kettle drums, overdriven guitar and a vocal chorus, you know it will be an epic album. Greeley, really shines here, his screams are right on, and the only thing I thought were missing from the version with matt barlow (another IE singer). 02. Stormrider - continues from AH starting mellow, then going into typical IE thrash. Not my favorite on the album, but great riffs and decent singing. 03. Before The Vision - a nice little acoustic thing, that sounds very mideval, leading into. 04. Mystical End - awesome intro, hate the vocals though, the song isnt as thrashy as most on here, but it still rocks and has a nice groove to it. 05. Desert Rain - one of the tree great epics on this album, starts off acoustic, with the tension building untill the distorted guitars come in, which launch into a pummeling riff, the vocals are pretty good, but the chorus is soooo much better with Barlow singing. Also, John Schaffer sings some of the verses. 06. Pure Evil - one of the many high points of the album, depicting a huge battle between good and evil, words cant really describe it, but when the guitars cut down, and the double bass comes in and he sings "We paint the skys with blood tonight..." It is almost orgasmic, also a nice little soft section, followed by some amazing screams! 07. Reaching The End - an atmospheric acoustic track, with very echo-ey vocals, and actuall good singing that isnt harsh in any way, but mainly leads into the final, concluding epic of the album. 08. Travel In Styngian - awesome vocals that remind me of Judas Priest's Painkiller, not even Barlow could do these and make it the same. But it quiets down after a few miniutes to a nice acoustic section with vocals that sound so bad and cheesy, that it gives me chills. However, it gives way to an awesome chorus section made utterly sinister by the synths in the background. After some thrashy sections, that chourus part "Travel in styngian, the dead call my name" comes back. The song ends with a haunting piano line that just has to be heard. Thus concludes the epic, if it got lost, I'd go out and get it again, definately a classic slab of metal!