Special report by BW&BK's Mark Gromen
This isn’t intended to be an actual review, given I only had one listen, where I tried to decipher the complex story-line, enjoy the music and jot down comments, simultaneously. What follows is an excerpt of my notes, taken during a real time, track by track playback. Hopefully it will whet the appetite for the scheduled mid-September release of Part One via SPV.
'Overture': Begins with a slow ‘samba’ type rhythm, cello and eventually, tasteful guitar notes. Female chants segues right into the rolling triplets, but not balls out speed of…
'Something Wicked (Part 1)': Chugging riffs, a nice guitar break and then Tim ("Ripper Owens), in a more normal (albeit still high) voice. Repeated false endings of crashing drums.
'Invasion': Big screen sci-fi animation effects. Think THX Star Wars battle scenes.
'The Motivation Of Man': Distant voiceover begins, then Owens with a different voice. Without a break, leads into…
'The Setian Massacre': Where man kills off most of the Setian race, fueling revenge plot. Every conceivable space filled with a rich, bombastic sound. Measured guitar solo cuts through the center.
'A Charge To Keep': Slow, heavy, remorseful to convey the sense of tremendous loss. Chorus in multiple voiced choir (signifying the survivors). Ends abruptly, switching to Ripper a cappella.
'Reflections': Acoustic. Short. Final sustained high note unbelievable, leading directly into single.
'Ten Thousand Strong': Galloping single. First track of that speed and magnitude. Title represents the # of Setian survivors.
'Execution': Otherworldly to Western ears. Music atop a lone echoing guitar and cymbal crashes.
'Order Of The Rose': Again, no segue, Ripper screams. Not high pitched, but aggressive, anger/kill voice.
'The Clouding': Massive rush of wind and storm introduces soothing '70s rock, complete with bluesy, slide guitar. Lengthy and lyrically packed. Gradually building as Setians erase mankind’s memory. Second half jumps to full band, aggressive. Essentially two songs in one. “Never trust the motives of man. They failed to evolve in Mother Nature’s plan.”
'Infiltrate And Assimilate': More typical Iced Earth style, but not exactly. Long scream after pre-chorus. Tim wailing beneath choir of voices, including his own. The 10,000 leave hiding and go amongst humanity. Another dead stop ending.
'Retribution Through The Ages': Ripper mostly in high register. Catchy, but again, not stereotypical IE. Chorus is easy to pick up after a couple of run throughs.
'Something Wicked (Part 2)': Uptempo, acoustic flamenco guitar and tables. Recurrent theme eventual replaced by electric guitar, although continues in background.
'The Domino Decree': WOW, majestic intro includes somewhat psychedelic, quirky, unsettling Hammond organ, which eventually gets a solo! Ripper in the stratosphere, although fades out solely with organ.
'Framing Armageddon': Similar in style to 'Ten Thousand Strong'. Amazing finishing vocal sustain.
'When Stars Collide (Born Is He)': Sung entirely in choir, a slower, heavy chugger.
'The Awakening': Female chant atop Middle Eastern rhythms, backed by choir of male voices and the low moan of cello or upright bass.
An EXCLUSIVE in-studio interview with Jon Schaffer will appear in BW&BK #105, out in late June.