With their latest album Incorruptible, American power metal legends Iced Earth seemed to have tried really hard to return to their classic sound circa The Dark Saga and Something Wicked This Way Comes, with a dash of The Glorious Burden thrown in for good measure. So yes, you can certainly expect plenty of epic lyrical fare dealing with wars, battles, pirates, and fantasy/horror tinged themes, as well as aggressive, soaring vocals and a non stop assault of chugging guitar riffs. Incorruptible marks Stu Block's third album with Iced Earth, and he's in fine form throughout, delivering his menacing throaty mid range snarl as well as plenty of high pitched screams, both heard in full force on the crushing "Black Flag" as well as the first pumping opener "Great Heathen Army". Block can also knock it out of the park on those patented Iced Earth power ballads, like the moody & anthemic "Raven Wing" and the even more brooding "The Veil", two emotional tunes that don't lack for thump yet are highly melodic and catchy.
However, for most fans, it's the near thrash power metal attack that has always served this band best, and they rampage at full tilt on menacing cuts "Seven Headed Whore", the Iron Maiden influenced numbers "The Relic (Part 1)" and "Clear the Way (December 13, 1862)", and the speedy masher "Defiance", each one chock full of Jon Schaffer riff-o-rama and sizzling solos courtesy of Jake Dreyer. For pure fist pumping fun, it doesn't get much better than the melodic "Brothers", a tasty piece with some scorching lead guitar solos and a catchy vocal from Block.
Overall, Incorruptible is a tried and true Iced Earth album...all the elements are here, it's not a major step forward, but a welcome reminder of what has made them such a great band for so many years. Schaffer loves to revisit themes from the past, and he of course does it again here, but most folks will certainly be on board for all the metal mayhem. Stu Block for his part puts in another dazzling performance with his 'Matt Barlow-meets-Tim 'Ripper' Owens' style, as he's settled into the lead vocalist role just fine. Good stuff.
1) Great Heathen Army
2) Black Flag
3) Raven Wing
4) The Veil
5) Seven Headed Whore
6) The Relic (Part 1)
7) Ghost Dance (Awaken the Ancestors)
10) Clear the Way (December 13, 1862)