Having been around for more than 20 years, John Schaffer's storied legacy will no doubt inspire future generations of musicians to fight for their own causes. The uncompromising visionary behind Iced Earth has in no small way changed the sound of pure made-in-the-U.S.A. heavy metal. For proof, listen no further than the music of Catch 22, Hellrazor, Hail To Arms, Charred Walls of the Damned, and Veins Iced Over, even European bands like Symphorce, Manticora, or Brainstorm. By the sheer force of his talent, John and his vehicle Iced Earth have single-handedly fed a whole subgenre. Thus, he will remain a legend.
Unfortunately, the master musician seems to have transformed himself into the Ted Nugent for today's generation of rockers by going bonkers with political leaning on the conservative Republican side. At least this is the main impression you get after hearing Sons of Liberty's Brush-fires of the Mind. The nine songs here each have an axe to grind, be it the fascist tremors coming from the current administration of thieving bankers who've enslaved the common man. The music is classic Iced Earth, driven by John's signature guitar tone and straightforward arrangements. But since this is essentially a side project, it's John Schaffer 100%, with no more pesky backing musicians who'll end up fired anyway. Surprise, surprise, John Schaffer on vocals isn't such a bad idea. In fact, ignoring the deluge of slogans and corny vitriol, he's a great singer to boot.
There are basically two points that ruin this otherwise solid album for even the most open minded listener: First, the music itself is predictable, relying on the proven Iced Earth formula circa The Glorious Burden. Second, the message will surely divide fans who don't share John's point of view. If you don't agree with Schaffer, you've just been polarized—isn't great heavy metal supposed to unite us? Worse, if this reaches a foreign audience (like in the case of this writer, who's from the Philippines), the diatribes aren't even relevant to their milieu. However, if you're blind to all that John touches, sink your teeth on such chest-thumping anthems as Cleansing Winds, Jekyll Island, Don't Tread On Me, and Indentured Servitude. So the final verdict is, for the most hardcore diehard fans only!
Jon Schaffer seems to have transformed himself into the Ted Nugent for today's generation of rockers by going bonkers with political leaning on the conservative Republican side. So the final verdict: Sons of Liberty is for the most hardcore diehard fans only!