Saturday, January 4, 2014

Iced Earth - Plagues of Babylon - Album Review


In all honesty,as this is my first Iced Earth review,I have never really been a big fan. The music has always been top-notch but the vocals have always been somewhat of a let down to me personally. When Stu Block was announced as the new Iced Earth vocalist I was a bit excited and 'Dystopia' didn't disappoint me. So I was excited about the next Iced Earth work and more of Stu Block in it and well 'Plagues Of Babylon' did live up to its billing for me.

The opening track and also the title track “Plagues of Babylon” is a perfect opener to the album. I don’t think Iced Earth could have opened this album in a better way. John Schaffer and Troy Steele’s guitars set the fire which burns white-hot for nearly eight minutes. “Democide” takes us on a galloping ride with Block’s vocals leading the way with fierce abandon and drummer Raphael Saini and bassist Luke Appleton provide the rumble upon which the dueling guitar leads soar. “Among the Living Dead”, featuring guest vocals from Hansi Kürsch (Blind Guardian), is one of those tunes that clearly means business and the guitar runs late in it and help to make it a sure-fire winner.

I think Stu Block sings with more authority on this album. I mean, he was very much himself in 'Dystopia' but he lacked something which I think has been found and captured well in 'Plagues Of Babylon'. The fifth track on the album “Resistance” is a perfect example of this, and I think Block just grabs hold of the mic and says, ”This is how its done!”. “The End” is one perfect piece if you ask me. Listening to it uncountable times by now, I feel its like Iron Maiden on steroids or something, just bloody insane. Its amazingly paced with great riff patterns throughout the song and the solo, well, lets just say I don’t have words for the solo as it blew me away. “If I Could See You Now” and “Spirit of the Times” feel like Block’s clean, ballad voice is even stronger than on the previous album and these two songs are a great way to shake things up a bit. On “Cthulhu” the soft intro totally belies the ferocity of what’s to come, and was another favorite for me.

“Peacemaker” and “Parasite” didn't really do much for me. They are good songs, but lack something somewhere and end up just being good. I always felt that Iced Earth is a bit “over-rated” as the vocals never really impressed me, but Stu Block has really made me a fan and 'Plagues of Babylon' is the perfect follow up to 'Dystopia'. I think that Iced Earth fans are gonna go absolutely mental for this record. I’m really impressed and I’m not a die-hard, so there you go.

Rating: 86%

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