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HARDWARES

ICED EARTH

The Plagues EP

(Century Media)

Reviewed by : Mark Gromen
Rating : 7.5

Four song, pre-tour teaser for the full-length Plagues Of Babylon, due late in January. A trio of these will also appear on the aforementioned disc, with the closing ‘Among The Living Dead’ an exclusive bonus. So what’s Jon Schaffer up to now? Toying with guitar tones, as each inclusion offers something different. The title track kicks things off, following a repetitive thud, two minutes of staccato guitar riffs. The heavy, mid-paced number also features a brief spoken voiceover, Schaffer delivering the list of nastiness that will befall the plague victims. Live, can see this one generating a slow, skanking circle pit. A short (3:56) ‘If I Could See You’ begins almost acoustically, a Stu Block clean voiced ballad (think ‘Watching Over Me’). Sixty seconds in, it takes a gritty turn, for the chorus, before returning to the softer, emotional style, for the remaining verses. The concluding guitar break, which fades out, makes the song. Another subdued entry, ‘Peacemaker’, is a tale of an Old West gun slinger, recalling Bob Seger’s ‘Turn The Page’, to start. Half way through (as the lyrical action enlivens) the veins in Block’s neck begin to bulge, as Schaffer lays down a twangy, Southern influenced rhythm, ultimately ending abruptly, following a couple of pleas to “Never take my peacemaker away.” Following an off-kilter militaristic march, ‘Among The Living Dead’ falls into that trademark ICED EARTH shuffle (some say rolling triplets). Easily the most aggressive of these choices, but still not played completely straight (start-to-finish), with groove-oriented guitar flourishes. Will be interesting to see/hear how these are inserted into the album running order.



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