Iced Earth The Crucible of Man (Something Wicked Part 2)

When Jon Schaffer’s Iced Earth released part one of this concept album last year, one of the worst things about it was the fact that there was going to be a second part. Well, a year later, here it is. And it’s actually way better than expected. This is for one huge reason: the return of former Iced Earth vocalist Matt Barlow, who arguably gives the definitive sound to this long-standing band instead of Schaffer’s riffage. Part one of the saga featured former Judas Priest cast-off Tim "Ripper” Owens and was a mess of way-too-long, repetitive tracks. Although part two still falls victim to some of those qualms, it is Barlow that grabs hold of this listening experience and lets it soar into that familiar power metal realm where cheese blends with a sense of the epic and combines for some great fist-pumping fury. Iced Earth are back and Barlow is the main reason for this. The Crucible of Man is, by leaps and bounds, their best release since 2001’s Horror Show. (SPV)