To say that Jon Schaffer, Iced Earth's principal, is a creative genius may be the biggest metal understatement. I wonder what spins around in his mastermind on a daily basis. In the last three years since the 'The Glorious Burden' and ten years since the 'Something Wicked' trilogy, Mr. Schaffer has been conjuring and creating his next Iced Earth album. 'Framing Armageddon' once again shows the brilliance of Schaffer's imagination, both lyrically and musically.
'Framing Armageddon' is a concept album; for the story, see the sidebar on the right. So let's talk about the music. This is great heavy metal with plenty of stirring vocals and soaring guitar work bound together by epic granduer. The album is a series of quinessential Iced Earth metal songs intermittently explained by short pieces which elaborate the story. And even these brief musical narrations demonstrate the strength of Iced Earth's ability. Yet it is the following longer stories that truly give this work bite. Once you get to 'Setian Massacre' and 'A Charge To Keep,' you know you have entered the metal realm of IE. This is full-blown, in-your-face, melodic metal.
Tim 'Ripper' Owens is at his finest on 'The Order Of The Rose,' screaming, growling, and harmonizing with the full strength of his lungs. Questions about or comparisons to that certain person or era of Judas Priest are no longer neeeded. Actually, they are useless for Mr. Owens owns his vocal style. And Troy Seele rips and shreds on guitar leaving the listener reeling in his wake. This is why metalheads love Iced Earth.
After another small instrumental interlude, we're treated to a mammoth number in 'The Clouding' where halves make a great whole. The first half finds Owens at his most emotional, Seele subdued. At the midpoint things explode and IE burns through some thunderous heavy metal which awakens our senses and raises our fists. Yet this is not the end of the great metal on this album. 'Retribution Through The Ages' is another cut compelling because of Owens' vocals and the strength and versatility of Brent Smedley on drums. Mr. Smedley shines again on momentary interlude 'Something Wicked (Part 2)' as well. This also points to another skill Schaffer has and that is surrounding himself with exceptional talent. This is apparent on 'The Dominoe Decree' where keyboardist Howard Helm plays a significant part.
I could go on and explore all the songs on this album, but I think you get the picture. Time, talent and imagination have given birth to a truly extraordinary work from Schaffer and company. 'Framing Armageddon' is an album that takes time (and concentration) to listen to, possibly with headphones. There is a breadth and depth to this music that is not found in much American (if you can find it) and European heavy metal of this sort. The closest relative may be California's Cage and their latest release 'Hell Destoryer,' but even this does not reach the qualitative magnitude of 'Framing Armageddon.' This is a metal lover's dream come true. Highly recommended!
- Craig Hartranft
Framing Armageddon (Something Wicked Part 1) tells the story of the Setians, who were the original inhabitants of Earth, and are directly descended from the "Great Architect". They are said to have nearly omniscient knowledge. Humans, who have developed space travel, invade Earth in a bid for "ultimate power and ultimate knowledge", killing all but ten thousand Setians.
The remaining ten thousand go into hiding in the mountains in the east. The Setian High Council, which consists of the twelve Elders and the High Priest, make a plan to get revenge on the invading human race. They plan to initiate "The Clouding", which involves brainwashing all the humans and making them forget their origins. Once completed, the Setians will manipulate history by creating religion, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, etc., to further divide the humans. Once human kind is sufficiently divided, after ten thousand years, the Setians will await, as the prophecy told millenia ago, the birth of the Antichrist, Set Abominae. Set Abominae will destroy all of the human race and execute the revenge the Setians have long awaited.
Framing Armageddon tells the story from the prophecy to the events right before the birth of Set Abominae.
-- from Wikipedia, link here