Iced Earth - Horror Show


Not blessed, or merciful
Apr 11, 2001
Sarf Lundin, Innit
Iced Earth - Horror Show
Century Media - 2001
By Rodrigo


It has been 3 years since Iced Earth last released a studio album. Well the wait is finally over because this June Horror Show, Iced Earth’s sixth studio album, will finally be unleashed. While Horror Show is not a concept album, each song has a common theme: showcasing some of the most evil characters from film, books and culture. The Werewolf, The Mummy, Frankenstein, Dracula, Damien Thorne and Jack the Ripper are some of the characters that you will encounter in this album. Horror Show also features Iced Earth’s most talented line-up to date. Bassist Steve DiGiorgio and drummer Richard Christy have added their impressive skills and given Iced Earth the one thing I thought they have lacked the most in previous albums, an excellent rhythmic section to complement Jon‘s guitars and Matt‘s singing. Steve’s (who unfortunately is no longer in the band and has since been replaced by James MacDonough) bass lines are amazing as usual and he occasionally uses a fretless bass to add something completely new to the Iced Earth sound. Richard’s intense and powerful drumming is equally impressive.

Prior to this release, there was a lot of talk and fear that Iced Earth would deliver an album with extremely "cheesy" lyrics. Let me tell you right now that those thoughts will be quickly dismissed as soon as you listen to this album and read the lyrics. Jon Schaeffer and Matt Barlow have come up with extremely emotional and smart lyrics that really embody the character they are talking about but not only do the lyrics do this but also the music.

"Im-Ho-Tep (Pharaoh’s Curse)" features eastern influences and "Jeckyl and Hyde". has both acoustic soft parts (Mr.Hyde) and aggressive and heavy sections (Dr. Jeckyl). "Jack" is a crushing heavy song that has fast powerful drumming, intense heavy guitars and harsh singing. "Ghost of Freedom" is an ode to soldiers who have fought in wars and the emotional singing by Matt is superb. This song is one of the best slow ballads that Iced Earth have ever come out with. "Wolf" has an excellent slithering intro and the extremely fast pace of the drumming and guitars in the chorus is unbelievable. An instrumental section with excellent guitars that I really enjoy from "Wolf" is from 2:53 to 3:20. "Dracula" is another song that will become an instant Iced Earth classic. At first it starts slow with some acoustic guitars and background chanting vocals, followed by the fretless bass. At about 2 minutes into it, the song takes off into the usual crushing and fast Iced Earth pace. The chorus of "Dracula" is one that you would expect to find from a Blind Guardian album because of the choir singing it. Has Hansi given pointers to Jon about writing choruses? "Phantom Opera Ghost" is without a doubt the most different Iced Earth song ever recorded. It features a mandolin, a piano organ and the singing is a duet between Matt and Yunhui Percifield. Everything works perfectly in this song and has also become an other instant favorite of mine. Finally, "Damien" might be the most evil song penned by Jon, even more so than "Dante’s Inferno". This song features the famous chanting from the movie "Omen", haunting pianos, an excellent bass line in the intro, constant tempo changes, superb singing, excellent music and the middle section features some of the harshest lyrics I have ever heard (they weren‘t even put on the booklet and these same lyrics are spoken backwards in the end). All these characteristics make "Damien" a perfect song from the character it was inspired by and it quickly became my favorite song from Horror Show

Century Media plans to release a limited edition version of Horror Show with a second CD featuring an interview with Jon and an excellent cover of the Iron Maiden classic "Transylvania". While it is very similar to the original, this version definitely has the Iced Earth sound all over it. So is Horror Show the best Iced Earth album so far? I really do not know the answer to that question. It is still a fresh album and it has to withstand the test of time to see if holds up as well as Burnt Offerings (my current favorite Iced Earth studio album)does. I do know that everything from Matt’s singing to Larry Tarnowski’s playing has improved and Jon Schaeffer’s songwriting has gotten more creative than ever. All this makes Horror Show an excellent album and one not to be missed.
I dont think this was the best Iced Earth album, but i do know that Iced Earth should do every thing they can to keep Christy on drums and Digiorgio back on bass. The additions of these two guys make this a decent album, but it seems like iced earth needs to do something with their sound, either faster, mnore prog, something.