Needs more Ooomph

I've tried with Iced Earth I really have, and even though they incorporate the galloping elements of Iron Maiden, the tight riffage of early Metallica and overall influences of thrash and NWOBHM they still leave me cold. I even bought 'The Dark Saga' on recommendation of an Iced Earth fan stating it should have been the album Metallica made after '...And Justice For All'. I got it home, unwrapped it excitedly from it's wrapper and just thought it was a blatant rip off and subsequently dismissed the band, that was until Tim Owens joined the band. Tim is one of my favourite vocalists in metal and even though he was impressive on 'The Glorious Burden' the songs were just too ordinary to have any real impression. Fans reaction to Tim Owens vocals were mixed due to the familiarity with previous singer Matt Barlow, and if I'm being brutally honest I don't think the mixed feelings are going to improve because the band have re-recorded the 'Something Wicked' trilogy from 'Something Wicked This Way Comes' to go along with the new single 'Ten Thousand Strong'.

The new track 'Ten Thousand Strong' is the best Tim Owens era song I've heard. It's a hard-hitting mini anthem with the band's signature galloping and precise rhythm guitar work of lynch-pin Jon Schaffer. The production is tighter than a puckered sphincter yet it doesn't help the music flow. Maybe it's the nature of the song-writing incorporating more chugging rather than big chords, but the whole E.P feels bitty and unsatisfying. I sat through its twenty-two minute run time hoping for some BIG fuck-off chords ala Machine Head, but they never materialised and I think this is the problem with this release and arguably their last album as well, the band play some really heavy music without it actually sounding very heavy. Tim Owens has such a powerful voice that he needs a bigger backing highlighted perfectly with his side project 'Beyond Fear' which has a production that would make this 4-track E.P kick some goddam metal ass.

As it stands it's neither good nor bad, it's just metal played with intensity and aggression without really having any kind of impact. The re-recording of the 'Something Wicked' trilogy will interest some fans but probably annoy many others because it won't be any better than the original, and probably would never be no matter how hard Iced Earth tried. If you're not into old material being re-done then I would avoid this disc and wait for the imminent new album, for those Iced Earth fans who wouldn't get so annoyed with Tim Owens treading on Matt Barlow's patch may find some interest here.