Iced Earth - 'Box Of The Wicked'

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Iced Earth - 'Box Of The Wicked'

Great value for money.

US power/thrashers Iced Earth are certainly no strangers to the world of box sets. They seem to get less interesting every time, actually, starting with the ‘Dark Genesis’ collection and those rare first releases, to the ‘Slave To The Dark’ reissues and now finally ‘Box Of The Wicked’, comprised of all the material they unleashed under the double concept record that was very much the baby of guitarist Jon Schaffer, an accomplishment he longed to initiate. If you missed out on everything the band have put out since their ‘Glorious Burden’ record (the first to feature Ripper Owens after Matt Barlow went astray), you will find it all here, all in wonderful digipack form, complete with poster, booklet, and a new live set record with the returned Barlow singing old favourites as well as a recording of the originally Owens-sung ‘A Charge To Keep’. Phew.

To be fair, most of you will already be familiar with the stuff you’ll find within this little (and rather eye-catching) set, but bugger it. I’m going to tell you anyway (it’s my job, after all. You’d be pretty pissed if you were looking at a blank page, wouldn’t you, minions?). What we have here is simple: the entire ‘Wicked Saga’ episode of Iced Earth’s career, with the exception of the album that started it all, 1997’s tremendously successful ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’. The first real piece is ‘Framing Armageddon’, a fast, blasting album of epic, thrashy, apocalyptic power metal with Owens at the vocal front and Schaffer laying down some of his most intense work thus far. ‘Overture Of The Wicked’ precedes this, an EP featuring the re-recorded ‘Something Wicked Trilogy’ from the aforementioned ‘Something Wicked...’ album (boy, are you confused yet?). The second major piece is the follow up album, the first with Barlow back in the fold, the immense ‘Crucible Of Man’, and of course, this is more of the same except perhaps it has a more epic feel due to the encroaching storyline. In addition to this, you get the coupling EP, ‘I Walk Among You’, with Barlow going over some of Owens’s tracks and improving them with his rich, sonorous wail. To round it off, you get the Graspop 2008 collection, which features a short live set from the band, with a particularly rousing version of ‘Dark Saga’, one of my favourite Iced Earth tunes.

You are getting a lot for your money here (fifteen quid is nothing considering this features five very well presented cds), and collectors will find this a nice addition to their library of the band’s previous gifts for the fans. Saying that, most of you will own these already, so only you’ll know if it’s worth picking up. At least it underlines this rather rocky patch in the band’s career, leaving the door open for Schaffer (currently busy with his classy Sons Of Liberty project) to pen some new material and bring the band back with a bang.

Bruce Turnbull

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