Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Genres: Pop, Rock, Metal
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Dark and powerful. You'll forget all about "Hell Awaits".
The Wickerman | Austin, TX | 04/20/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I think it's no coincidence that this album came out on the tenth anniversary of that legendary Slayer album. It's has that same dark, hellish feel. But, as great as that album might be, this is a far superior masterpiece. Let me start off by saying that this album is a bit different from other Iced Earth albums. It's a bit darker and more experimental. You may have heard that this album is a bit death metal-ish, and if that turned you off because you thought it would sound like Cannibal Corpse or something, let me tell you right now that it does not. There are some blast beats, and more hard-edged vocals, but this is undeniably Iced Earth. Most of the songs are pretty long, at least five minutes, and are very well structured, and every song has a pretty good amount of melody in it. There is some really awesome songwriting in here, too. The Romeo and Juliet type story "Last December" is really cool, and "Brainwashed" has some great commentary on religion. But, the real brilliance of the album lies in the final track, "Dante's Inferno". There is truely nothing more incredible than this song. The Crazy Trains, the Masters of Puppets, the Angels of Death, all brilliant songs, but they pale in comparison to this. Imagine if you took all the best material from Metallica, Slayer, and Iron Maiden, and combined it into one song. This is what it would sound like. "Dante's Inferno" is a 16 and a half minute ride through the nine plains of Hell, with layers upon layers of brilliant musicianship, and staggeringly incredible vocalization. If you hadn't figured out by now that Matt Barlow would go on to be their classic vocalist, this confirms it. And, as if the recording wasn't incredibe enough, it is even better live, as is evident on "Alive in Athens". Listening to the recording, it's hard to believe that any improvements could be made, but Matt adds a bit more aggression on a couple of parts, like when he says "all the sinners cry" and "queen of vipers, queen of serpents, cast their souls to stone", and I think it sounds better that way. Even if the rest of the album had nothing to offer, "Dante's Inferno" could easily carry it by itself. That song alone crushes the entire careers of all those trendy nu-metal bands out there. But, the fact that all of the other songs on here are great only adds to the sheer brilliance. It may not be as accessible as other Iced Earth releases, but I think that with time, any true fan of the band could appreciate it. Every fan of thrash, death, or power metal should buy this album. Come, and feel its dark power!"
Iced Earth at their fiercest and most lethal
M. B. Link | USA | 03/25/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Burnt Offerings(1995). Iced Earth's third studio album and the first with legendary metal vocalist Matt Barlow.In the early 90s, true heavy metal music was falling to the wayside in favor of the alternative grunge rock scene. Though heavy metal became an underground phenomenon once again with newer genres such as doom, death, black, progressive, and power metal, one band picked up the banner and continued on in the scorching thrash stylings of Metallica and melodic songwriting style of Iron Maiden. This band was known to be Iced Earth. Expert rhythm guitar god Jon Schaffer founded the band in the 80s and had a vision much like Steve Harris did for Iron Maiden: to carve a place in heavy metal history with his newfound band. They started off in the early 90s with two great albums: Iced Earth(1990) and Night Of The Stormrider(1992). Each album showed the band following their heroes Metallica and Iron Maiden fairly closely in style, and both featured different vocalists. The first was Gene Adams, who simply couldn't do the rest of the band justice with his cheezy, immature wailings. The next vocalist, Jon Greely, served much better, but due to his inability to cooperate with the rest of the band, he was dismissed after NOTSR. IE managed to achieve success, but thanks to their record label Century Media, they began a huge money dispute which sent the band into a bitter angry era which would greatly influence the sound of the next album they would release in a few years...Out of nowhere, Schaffer finds vocalist Matt Barlow, and in 1995 they unleashed Burnt Offerings, the band's darkest and heaviest release to date. In many ways, one could say that BO was considered to be the first real IE album. Beforehand, the band was adopting their influences' styles, but now the band managed to make IE its own identity. They are more focused on delivering melodically memorable sound and songstructures in addition to the old-school thrash stylings. Upon listening to this, you can tell that BO reflected the dark times of the band. This album is to IE what Painkiller was to Judas Priest: a heavier than normal release which was fueled by traumatic events. Schaffer even states that this album brings back such horrible times for him that it's considered his least favorite IE album. Ironically though, a large percentage of IE's fanbase consider BO to actually be the best album. As a big fan now, I can certainly see why. The songs tend to employ fairly progressive songstructures with numerous time changes and creative songwriting. It's one of my favorites as well. Schaffer's riffing is at its most talented here too due to the speed played at and the heavier guitar tones used. Barlow immediately showed a GREAT improvement for IE, giving off a convincingly talented vocal performance. In addition to the melodic singing, fierce growling, and Halford-esque screaming, Barlow adds much-needed passion and emotion to the music, which the two other vocalists tended to lack. He served as a great heavy metal vocalist, and he was easy to work with in the band, so he stayed as IE's official singer for many years. To date, he is considered IE's finest vocalist, and I would have to agree. Lead guitarist Randy Shawver is back again and still delivers some amazing solos.The album starts off calmly in the title track much like Metallica's Master Of Puppets, but then suddenly EXPLODES into a frenzy of fast and heavy guitar riffing. This title track is definitely the most memorable and one of my all-time favorite IE tracks, so it shames me to find out that it never showed up in the live performances. An underrated masterpiece which grabs your attention. Next is the midpaced and melodic heavy hitters 'Last December' and 'Diary', both of which are equally excellent. The heavy metal assault continues with 'Brainwashed' and 'Burning Oasis'. These tracks don't stick out in my mind as much as the first three, but there are some shining moments found between the two. The slow paced 'Creator Failure' deserves a mention because of the guest female vocals and the part where Barlow manages to perform perfect Halford-style vocals. 'The Pierced Spirit' is just a short accoustic interlude much like the interludes found in the previous album. It makes for a good break from the rest of the album's pace, but it is easily eclipsed by the mega-monster epic that immediately follows it. Schaffer's creative songwriting culminates to its fullest in the massive 16-minute juggernaut 'Dante's Inferno'. This track takes the listener all over the place, continuously displaying the band performing at their all-time best. It also includes an orchestra during several sections. The intro starts out accoustically the same as the track 'Reaching The End' on the previous album, but then erupts into an otherworldly thrash rocker which never fails to please. Considered to be IE's magnum opus, the band would not top 'Dante's Inferno' for many years until the 20-minute 'Something Wicked Trilogy' and the 32-minute 'Gettysburg' epics were made, both found in later albums.In the end, BO stands tall as one of IE's crowning achievements, and it certainly holds the title as IE's most angriest, energetic, and progressive album to date. Even if the album didn't fare well, it proved that IE was a force to be reckoned with in the world of heavy metal. Five stars overall. The production here was much better than the first two albums, though it still wasn't quite on top. Plus, the original album is out of print and very difficult to find, so if you get any version of BO, make it the newly remastered version with improved sound quality and album artwork. Though the other two remastered albums sound great, BO has the best sound, enabling for perfect production to one of heavy metal's finest releases of the 90s. Even though BO is an outstanding album, it may not be the best place for a new fan to start, so go with NOTSR, Something Wicked This Way Comes(1998), or the new release The Glorius Burden(2004) before picking this album up. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED TO ANY FAN OF GOOD HEAVY METAL.Other albums which sound like Burnt Offerings:
-'Something Wicked This Way Comes' by Iced Earth
-'Painkiller' by Judas Priest
-'Master Of Puppets' by Metallica
-'Reign In Blood' by Slayer
-'Powerslave' by Iron Maiden"
Dark, progressive, and bloodthirsty.
Lord Chimp | Monkey World | 12/12/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Burnt Offerings opens to a new chapter in the band's career. It is vocalist Matt Barlow's first album of many. Jon Schaffer's songwriting expands to undertake more experimental directions. The band's already dark music sinks into deeper tones of malaise and gloom. Lots of anger and scorn; lots harsh vocals, some pseudo-death metal riffing, and plenty of keyboards for texture. Although this was one of my first Iced Earth albums, I haven't reviewed it for a long time because it takes a while to truly appreciate. It's different, but stunning in its own right. (see also the_wickerman's great review for this disc.)The lead track, "Burnt Offerings," succinctly captures all of the album's qualities in a 7-minute song. It reveals that Barlow is the perfect vocalist for the band, equipped with astonishing range and expression. John Greely, the former vocalist, was pretty good...he could wail and snarl. Barlow, however, can do these things better, and throws skill, power, and passion into the delivery. During the chorus he skillfully toggles between gruff, fierce intonations and a deep bellow. In the quiet interlude, he sings like a dreary specter. The surrounding music meshes raucous thrash riffs, pounding beats, melodic guitar harmonies, delicate but brief pianos, and ominous lyrics. Quite simply, it's a brilliant song. The dolorous "Last December" is not-quite-a-power-ballad, starting soft then thrusting into heavy riffing, all very dark in tone. "Brainwashed" is savage, murderous riffing with a lyrical message that condemns the hypocrisy that sometimes characterizes organized religion. "Burning Oasis," aside from having a mega cool song name, is seriously heavy music that comes fast & thick. "The Pierced Spirit" is unusual territory for Iced Earth. Very soft and melodic (and short, just two minutes), it sets emotional vocals over the interplay of piano and guitar. Unlike most of Iced Earth's slower songs, this one has no heavy part at all.The culmination of the album, and Iced Earth's career (up to this point), comes with the 16-minute epic "Dante's Inferno." Surely one of the greatest metal songs ever written, it is a gothic masterpiece that carries the listener on a journey through the nine layers of Hell. I remember trying to read "The Divine Comedy" (the book on which this song is based) a few years ago and found the archaic prose quite torturous. Thanks to Iced Earth, Hell is fun. "Dante's Inferno" shows Schaffer demonstrating incredible restraint. Instead of blasting through the entire thing with onslaughts of crushing riff after riff, only a few parts of this song really rock. Much of it focuses on spooky guitar atmospherics, demonic vocals, lush keyboards, and resplendent lyrical imagery. Yet it is in no way boring. And Matt Barlow...are all these voices but one man? This song is the ultimate showcase for the gamut of Barlow's vocal power. I'm sure he adopts no fewer than ten voices on this song. Incredible. Like "The Divine Comedy," Schaffer describes Hell with horrid, sometimes revolting phrasing. The descriptions are often quite evocative with frightening imagery that gives me chills. While this is probably not the best starting place for potential Iced Earth fans (try The Dark Saga or Something Wicked This Way Comes), the experimental, dismal songwriting makes Burnt Offerings a unique and essential part of the catalogue. The band will probably never do anything quite like this again."