Iced Earth Horror Show

The meteoric rise by Jon Shaffer's Iced Earth has been the by-product of a lot of hard work and lucky breaks. Having Todd MacFarlane decide to paint an album cover using his comic book hero Spawn as the subject is arguably the biggest thing that has ever happened to the band, but the fact that Schaffer and crew have been churning out a long line of classic power metal albums one after the next is what really made the metal world take notice. The band has been most successful when building their albums around concepts. 1996's The Dark Saga was an interpretation of the Spawn saga set to screaming guitars, while 1999's Something Wicked This Way Comes was a three-part trilogy dealing with prophecy and conspiracy theories. This time around, guitarist and leader Schaffer has created a ten-song cycle paying homage to the monsters of the silver screen, with songs subjects dealing with the Wolfman, Dr. Jeckyl & Mr. Hyde, Dracula and Frankenstein, set to some of the catchiest melodic metal this side of classic Iron Maiden. The band even pays Maiden the highest tribute by covering their instrumental track "Transylvania." As good as this album is, however, it actually misses the mark compared to the band's other efforts. There are rumours all over the metal underground that this will be the band's last record for Century Media, and that Schaffer's real masterpiece is still in the can waiting for what he feels would be the ideal situation to release it. Until then, this record will do. (Century Media)