|Review: Iced Earth - Horror Show|
Label: Century Media
Year released: 2001
Genre: Heavy Metal
Review online: September 2, 2001
Reviewed by: Pierre Bégin
Rated 4/5 (80%) (72 Votes)
After the excellent "Something Wicked This Way Comes" and the incredible "Alive in Athens", Iced Earth are back with a thematic album about the characters that have haunted our imagination: "Horror Show"! Even before reading the lyrics, I was afraid this was going to be a cheesy theme. Fortunately I was wrong, the lyrics are excellent and well constructed! The album contains 10 songs, one per character, and is more than 55 minutes in length. The only "off-topic" song is Ghost of Freedom, an excellent patriotic ballad somewhat inspired by the movie The Patriot with Mel Gibson.
The album starts off with Wolf, a fast song with double bass drums. I must say that even after many listens, I still can't stomach this song. It is a bit too dense for my taste (especially on the vocal side) and Richard Christy overdoes the bassdrums. Damien is 9 minutes in length but it doesn't seem that long! Excellent mid-tempo beat, very heavy with angelic choirs in the intro and outro. Jack starts on a speedy note and the chorus is excellent.
Im-Ho-Tep (Pharaoh's Curse) has an Egyptian sound to it with an excellent verse and harmonized vocals by Matthew Barlow and a staccato riff by Jon Shaffer. Jeckyl & Hide is a very average song, I can't get into it and the riff has been heard before. Dracula is good, at the beginning with the fretless bass, but the song goes a little too much into Blind Guardian's territory (vocals in the chorus and in the guitar harmonies.)
In my opinion, the best songs on the album are: Damien, Ghost of Freedom, Im-Ho-Tep (Pharaoh's Curse) and my two favorites are the sublime Dragon's Child (very melodic and catchy) and the slow Frankenstein. The album ends with The Phantom Opera Ghost, an epic song of more than 8 minutes where Matthew and a feminine voice supporting each other, a first for Iced Earth.
Steve DiGiorgio's work at the bass is excellent, never an Iced Earth album has been so good for that part. The album sounds great like every Iced Earth album recorded at Morrisound Studios. "Horror Show" contains a lot of atmosphere, often going from a mellow to heavy sound within a same song. I must mention Jon Shaffer's excellent work who keeps on delivering excellent material (including the artwork and booklet) album after album, and that with originality. He's proof that you can evolve within your own style (ahem Metallica!) However, it would probably be a good idea to leave more room to the other musicians. It's a fact that it is his band, but he has excellent musicians and he should take advantage of that.
I bought the version with bonus disc which contains an excellent cover of Transylvania by Iron Maiden and a long interview (nearly 70 minutes) with Jon Shaffer. Overall, a strong album from Iced Earth, one of my best this year.
Bonus disc: Transylvania 04:29
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