Iced Earth returns in 2008 with 'The Crucible Of Man,' part two and the conclusion(?) of Jon Schaffer's epic sci-fi/fantasy story 'Something Wicked.' If you're unfamiliar with the story or the previous work, 'Framing Armageddon,' you can read my review here to fill in the details. What I said a year pretty much applies to this accomplishment as well. The only exception is that Matt Barlow has returned to IE fold to do the vocals. 'The Crucible Of Man' is classic and thoroughly Iced Earth melodic heavy metal, plain and simple.
The work is filled with compelling and thoughtful arrangements with varied styles, but all within the melodic metal context. There is classic heavy metal with strong vocals and blistering guitar on the fine, 'Crown Of The Fallen.' There is epic/symphonic heavy metal on 'I Walk Alone' with its stunning vocal arrangement. Iced Earth gives a nod to a modern metal sound on 'Divide And Devour' where the vocals are rougher, the riffs heavier. Straight melodic metal meets some prog nuance on 'The Dimension Gauntlet,' with it's mixed tempos. On the longest song, 'Come What May,' you hear Iced Earth in their finest form: delivering classic melodic and showing true creativity in the magnificent interlude about four minutes in. 'I Walk Alone,' 'Come What May,' and the opener 'Behold The Wicked Child' are some of the best songs Iced Earth has ever done, destined to be classics. Overall, 'The Crucible Of Man' is simply outstanding. I might say this is even better than 'Framing Armageddon.' Now, all I have to do is listen to them back to back. Highly recommended!
- Craig Hartranft
Iced Earth returns with the second part of the 'Something Wicked' story with 'The Crucible Of Man' and this time Matt Barlow is back on vocals. This a solid and creative work of pure Iced Earth melodic heavy metal. The grandeur of the story is only excelled by the brilliance of the music. Excellent stuff!