The following review is for the domestic (US) version of Iced Earth's latest. The full length version of Days of Purgatory is available only through Europe or Century Media mail order and features 2 discs worth of material (though there is only six songs difference between it and the American edition). Rather than new material, Iced Earth have chosen to re-record songs from their first three albums (plus a few demo tracks) that they felt could be improved upon with the superiority of their current lineup.
To be honest, I'm unfamiliar with the original versions, having been skeptical of Century Media product after so much mediocre material in the past. If Iced Earth aren't a fluke, then I've been giving the label the short end of the stick. This could very well be the most fully developed progressive thrash since the halcyon Master of Puppets days.
Actually, if we're going to compare this band with Metallica, perhaps Kill Em All would be a more accurate benchmark, for Iced Earth haven't so much re-written the rules of metal as they've absorbed all relevant influences and made them their own. Days of Purgatory is a perfect example of how to stay true to metal without becoming derivative. As many influences as Iced Earth have mastered, none of them have anything to do with alternative. Or even death metal, for that matter.
To even bother listing song titles would be to betray false preferences, as each song stands up to even the most intense criticism. It's no exaggeration to claim that everything good about 80s metal has been thrown into the Iced Earth boiling pot; from the galloping triplets made popular by the Bay Area thrash bands to the dual guitar harmonies of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, Iced Earth has it all down cold.
It seems almost impossible that ten years from now the band won't be considered as much a giant of the genre as Metallica, Iron Maiden, or Judas Priest. There remains the question of a certifiable mark of innovation, some brand of individualism, in order to have Iced Earth's name etched forever into the Heavy Metal Hall of Fame, but all cast die should fall in the band's favor. It's not often headbangers get a sure thing.