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Iced Earth: Framing Armageddon (Something Wicked Part 1)

-----Please read below for an updated review of a non-promo copy of Framing Armageddon-----

Who knew that Iced Earth's record label was going to make our job reviewing Framing Armageddon (Something Wicked Part 1) so difficult? I mean, I've had this thing for close to a month now, and spun it countless times, but thanks to them editing in "Hello, this is Jon Schaffer from Iced Earth, and you are listening to the latest Iced Earth album Framing Armageddon..." every 30 seconds or so, it becomes awfully hard to keep focused on what is going on with this extremely bombastic and intricately crafted album. Judging by the scarcity of reviews on the internet for this CD, I'm guessing that most of my fellow writers out there are having the same problem.When will this paranoia regarding downloading and piracy end? If you can't trust the professionals to be able to listen to the music in its entirety and true state and review it based on it's purest form, instead filling much of the promo with constant distractions that just take away from the music, then they can't expect reviews that can be a true and accurate opinion of the actual album that is being considered. Plain and simple.

On to Framing Armageddon (Something Wicked Part 1)...Schaffer once again tackles the 'Somthing Wicked' storyline, this time with Tim "Ripper" Owens at the vocal helm. Much less a collection of strong songs like the first album, this one comes across rather like one long piece divided up into segments. Lots of neat instrumental passages and some overtures permeate the mix, but what works best is when the band kicks up the anthems like "A Charge to Keep" and "Ten Thousand Strong", complete with raging guitar riffs and Ripper's melodic wailing. Some of the arrangements are fairly busy at times, as if Schaffer really wanted to make this one memorable and epic, but more often than not you'll wind up just wishing for crankin' riffs and a strong chorus rather than all the clutter. The moody "The Clouding" is something to celebrate, a lenghty thumper that starts out pretty mellow then slowly starts to build into a real powerhouse metal track with Owens' vocals soaring to the heavens.

Honestly, despite a current impression that this latest Iced Earth is somewhat disappointing and lackluster, I'm thinking that most of us in the media who have been tasked with reviewing Framing Armageddon (Something Wicked Part 1) are probably better off waiting for this to be officially released, plunking down the cash for our own copy, and reading & digesting the lyrics (obviously no lyrics were included with this copy) as well as hearing the music uninterrupted without these annoying voice overs.

Wish I had better news for you folks...perhaps at a later date.

Track Listing
01. Overture
02. Something Wicked (Part 1)
03. Invasion
04. Man's Motivation
05. The Setian Massacre
06. A Charge to Keep
07. Reflections
08. Ten Thousand Strong
09. Execution
10. Order of the Rose
11. Cataclysm
12. The Clouding
13. Infiltrate and Assimilate
14. Retribution Through the Ages
15. Something Wicked (Part 2)
16. The Domino Decree
17. Framing Armageddon
18. When Stars Collide (Born is He)
19. The Awakening

Added: December 13th 2007
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Iced Earth Website
Hits: 6357
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Iced Earth: Framing Armageddon (Something Wicked Part 1)
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2007-12-13 09:26:05
My Score:

When Jon Schaffer first introduced us to his "Something Wicked" trilogy on Iced Earth's 1998 release "Something Wicked This Way Comes" the three chapter tune was only the tip of the iceberg in the greater tale that would be told many years later. Let's fast forward almost a decade now where the time has come for Jon and company to present us with the beginnings of this epic story, and what a story it is. Presenting my dear Metal friends the new Iced Earth release "Framing Armageddon: Something Wicked Part 1"; it's an epic spawned from an epic and is a tale that brings us back in time thousands of years to an ancient place where a battle to determine the future of humanity has begun. The tale is rich and complex and that impressed me most for it reads like solid Science Fiction with a little bit of Horror blended in for good measure. So deep are the goings on in the concepts tale that Schaffer needed to break it into two parts and with part one presented here the listener is advised to sit down and focus on this one as a whole piece of music as opposed to skipping around the album like many of us are guilty of doing with releases at times. Lucky for us the tale is painted out very clearly in the lyrics of the album which we can follow along to as it plays out the story of the Setians The Setians are beings who were the original inhabitants of the Earth and apparently the Humans were the invaders of the planet and thus the struggle ensues. Without being a spoiler, most of the Setians are annihilated by the Humans but those who remain join forces and conspire to destroy the people who set out to do the same to them. Pretty heavy stuff isn't it? One can almost envision this as some sort of big budget Sci-Fi movie epic along the lines of Star Wars. Schaffer has outdone himself on this one so if you are wondering if it was worth the wait then let me answer that with a resounding "yes".

Musically there are a lot of peaks and valleys as the album brings mood inducing slower parts to a screaming crescendo when the Metal gets to throttling speed. It's a long album and runs some nineteen tunes but the listener will not feel as though any time has been wasted by their sitting through the release in its entirety. It's made to be enjoyed like this and some of the biggest highlights are the tracks "Ten Thousand Strong", "The Setian Massacre" and "Framing Armageddon" for they possess that signature Schaffer riff that makes Iced Earth music so easy to get into if you are a fan of the classic style of the genre. There are a couple of slower numbers that are equal in intensity and one of my favorites of these is definitely "A Charge To Keep", and one can just see the audience singing along with this one with fists and lighters raised high in the sky. "Reflections" is a track that actually reminded me a little of "When The Eagle Cries" from the bands last effort "The Glorious Burden" and it leads right into the monster "Ten Thousand Strong" and it's songs like this that seem as though they had been written specifically for Owen's vocal range. Across the board on this album he reminds us why he is one of the most talented singers in the business of Metal today. The recording of the album found Schaffer doing most of the guitars (lead, rhythm and bass) while some bass was provided by Dennis Hayes (Beyond Fear) and drums were courtesy of returning Iced Earth skin-basher Brent Smedley. There are also a number of guest musicians on the album like Howard Helm, who plays keyboards and gives songs like "Domino Decree" a bit of a Deep Purple feel and talk about being inspired by legends of the past there is even some interludes found that are reminiscent of Pink Floyd. I will let you be surprised when you hear it, but it is without question that Schaffer took great care of crafting this one for his fans. It's guaranteed to please the bands longtime followers and I think might even be an album that lets some new fans jump on board with the group as well. After all it's never too late to get into a band and become one of their supporters. Chapter one of this tale will truly leave you clamoring for more and with chapter two being set for middle 2008 I know that I am not alone in saying I can hardly wait to see how the drama ends.

Iced Earth: Framing Armageddon (Something Wicked Part 1)
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2007-10-01 13:27:12
My Score:

Let's try this again, now shall we?

If you are one of the many people who have read the review above and wondered "Gee, should I pick this CD up?", well, the answer is yes. While it's easy to place the blame on the record company who sen7 out promos with distracting voice overs on them in hopes that magazine and website journalists can find a way to review the music, that's already been covered above. Thankfully, SPV has distributed the actual, official release, and it's amazing just how much of a difference the two products are. Framing Armaggedon is a very adventurous, epic concept piece, something that Jon Schaffer and crew should be very proud of. While it strays a bit from the classic 'riff-heavy' material of old, there's plenty of bombast and gallop to be found here, but it's all contained within a marvelously grand & classy framework that recalls just as much rock opera and progressive rock as it does classic power metal. Tim 'Ripper' Owens puts in one of his most varied performances here, not relying on simply screaming his way through the album, instead showing lots of poise and diversity throughout (although he does get in plenty of moments that will send shivers up your spine), especially on the stunning "A Charge to Keep".

Despite the fact that much of Framing Armageddon is fairly complex and busy, you'll be surprised at just how memorable and catchy parts of the CD is. It's impossible to pick highlights here, as there are a lot of tracks, or 'sections' to this monumental piece, and it's best enjoyed as a whole in its entirety. If your pleasure is crushing riff-o-rama without the grandeur, be prepared to give this one some time to fully reveal its fruits, as it's a definite grower.

Where Framing Armageddon will be remembered in the Iced Earth discography remains to be seen. Without a doubt this is the band's most eclectic and advanced release to date, although they do lose a few points on the heaviness scale. No matter what way you look at it, it's classy, sophisticated stuff, that should appeal to anyone who likes a good concept album full of surprises.

» Reader Comments:

Iced Earth: Framing Armageddon (Something Wicked Part 1)
Posted by Carlos Canales Vega on 2008-03-04 09:33:42
My Score:

The only thing that surprised me on this album is the constant rehash of previously done melodies, hooks and riffs.I mean, several sections of The Glorious Burden album are used and tweaked a little to make it different (not enough to not notice it, if you asked me).So, i'm kinda dissapointed with Shaffer's doings.I think i've had not felt upset like this since the Masterplan MKII album.
Sadly, not recommended.

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