Sound — 10
Holy shit! That was my first reaction when I had just completed the first run through of this album, with the addition of a little aching in my neck from headbanging to much. I thought that Framing Armageddon was really good, hell I think all of their stuff is good, but this album really does f--king kill from start to finish. The production on this record is better then Framing Armageddons. The guitars remain crisp, while still delivering a barage of different tones and still delivering that tremendous wall of distortion. The drumming is top notch, as Brent Smedley being back is truly sweet. He is a very talented drummer, and remains powerful throughout complimenting the other instruments very well. This album is the conclusion of the something wicked saga that Jon Shaffer has crafted over the years, beginning with the Something Wicked Trilogy on Something Wicked This Way Comes.
Lyrics — 10
Welcome back matt barlow! There is truly something magical about the Shaffer/Barlow combination. They bring out the best in each others performances. The lyrics are the typical Iced Earth fashion, and the lyrics compliment the story. I'm just going to assume that everyone reading this actually knows a little bit about this band, so I wont describe the story as it would take a little while, but the lyrics compliment the story. Barlows voice is not completely as powerful as it once was, but that comes to every artist with age. Even with that, you can't tell. His voice is still more powerful then many of his peers.
Overall Impression — 10
This is definately one of the best Iced Earth albums to date. I saw the first return show with matt barlow, and you could tell something magical was happening on that stage that night. it was no surprise really when this album was released that it was this good, especially after hearing the first single, I walk alone. Among the strongest on this album are, harbinger of Fate, Divide Devour, Come What May, Something Wicked part 3, I walk alone, and the Iced Earth type balladesque A Gift Or A Curse. This CD hasn't left my car since I bought it. If someone stole it, I would rip apart their limbs and sell them to get money back to pay for a new copy. I can't wait until they come back to Chicago. One of the best bands hands down, and guess what, they aren't done. More incredible stuff will come from this band! If you can, I highly recommend you see them.