Saturday, January 4, 2014

Iced Earth - Plagues of Babylon (2014)

I have always seen Iced Earth as one of the most inconsistent bands in heavy metal history. Not only does the line-up change more often than I am changing my underwear, the musical styles often variates from album to album, which have led to some great albums and some disappointing albums. The latest dealt hand, "Dystopia" from 2011, was a really nice album, so that made me slightly worried that this next album would fall into the disappointment category.

Anyhow, "Plagues of Babylon" is the name of this album, and as you probably can tell from the cover, it is a heavier and darker album than "Dystopia", but it still keeps the catchy choruses and some of the melodies from earlier mentioned album. But do not think that this is a continuation of "Dystopia". It is instead a album where half of the songs focuses on the well known "Something Wicked" concept that the band has developed during the past 16 years, and the other half are just stand alone songs (fillers?). I think it is weird that they only made half a concept album, but I guess that they could not come any further with the story line.

No matter what, it is a good bunch of steady material that the band has put out in this record. The only problem is that it is more or less the same material that is being recycled over and over again. There is very few changes between the choruses and most of the songs holds a similar tempo, making this album an overall unexciting experience. The music lacks of energy, which would have made the album more interesting. Too bad, since I really like the drums here and Stu Block is once again doing a solid work behind the microphone (even though he sounds like Hansi Kürsch (Blind Guardian) in some sections).

There were not many songs that really blew me away, but I enjoyed the epic and doom like "Cthulu", the powerful ballad "If I Could See You", the dark "The Culling" and the title track is certainly a classic Iced Earth song that opens up the album in an excellent way. However, I cannot see how the 90's rock ballad "Peacemaker" would be fitting in this album, and the re-recorded version of "Spirit of The Times" from Jon Schaffer's solo project Sons of Liberty is just a waste of space.

Just as I suspected, "Plagues of Babylon" was not as good as its predecessor "Dystopia". It is a album that has some good intentions here and there, but it suffers pretty badly from the lack of power and the homogeneous sound. It is definitely a solid record, but it would not have hurt the band if they had mixed it up a little more on this album. So "Plagues of Babylon" is ultimately a decent album that is far from impressive and far from a disappointment. If you are a fan of the band, then you will much likely be very pleased.

Songs worthy of recognition: Cthulu, The Culling, If I Could See You

Rating: 6/10 Parasites

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