Iced Earth Framing Armageddon

Iced Earth Framing Armageddon
There are those albums that just have the pre-cringe factor — the ones you know are going to be a chore to plough through. Iced Earth once commanded a large and loyal following but the untimely departure of singer Matt Barlow, and the arrival of replacement Tim "Ripper” Owens, came on the dawn of their not so glorious 2004 release, The Glorious Burden. The poor reviews and Iced Earth patriarch Jon Schaffer’s somewhat publicised, rampant pro-American diatribes resulted in the band becoming a bit of a joke (how can you take a song entitled "When the Eagle Cries” seriously?). Well, in 2007, Schaffer is back with the first of a two-part epic, which retells the Something Wicked saga from his previous trilogy of songs on Something Wicked This Way Comes. Sounds like a rehash to me. Couple this with the lacklustre release preceding this one and you’ve got your pre-cringe factor. Sometimes lower expectations are easier to meet though, because Framing Armageddon isn’t really that horrendous. It’s by no means a great album — it’s a borderline "good” one — but Schaffer could’ve done a lot worse! Like Iced Earth albums of old, this gets your head nodding and your fist pumping at parts (see the chorus of "The Setian Massacre”). Still, even the most devoted Iced Earth fan is still going to miss Barlow, as Ripper doesn’t deliver a strong enough performance to eclipse the former front-man. Props should be given to the fantastic production however, as the choruses soar and repeat with thunderous power metal passion. (SPV)