Iced Earth is back with its newest CD, Incorruptible. Jon Schaffer is the driving force and lone original member of the band. Stu Block returns on vocals for his third album and lends some song writing support. Iced Earth’s songs are generally period or character driven and always sound like they’re heading into battle. Incorruptible brings more of the same.
Iced Earth is also known for its epic concept albums. Something Wicked This Way Comes, Horror Show and The Glorious Burden quickly come to mind. However, this is not a concept album, but it’s still heavy on story and characters. Fans of Iced Earth will love many of the songs on the CD. Overall though, it’s a bit of an uneven effort.
“Great Heathen Army” kicks things off with a heavy vibe. It’s a good start, but it would benefit from a stronger hook to really grab the listeners. “Raven Wing” and “The Veil” are dark and moody, but heavy. These two songs stand out and remind me of “Blessed Are You” and “I Died For You”. First single “Seven Headed Whore” is the heaviest, and arguably, the best song on the album. You’ll bang your head to this one. “Defiance” is another heavy rocker that stands out.
The rest of the songs miss the mark a bit. “Black Flag” is a pirate song which features Block with a heavy pirate accent. If it had been a concept album in which they were establishing a character, the song might work. But, as a stand-alone song, the accent sounds a little silly. “Ghost Dance (Awaken the Ancestors)” is an instrumental that essentially goes nowhere for 6:30. The rest are songs that fall into the “just ok” realm.
That said, the playing on this CD is outstanding. Block (pirate accent excluded) has incredible range and features it throughout the CD. New guitarist Jake Dreyer shines on lead guitar and these songs give him plenty of room to shred. He’s got great chemistry with Schaffer, who is as solid as ever.
Overall, Incorruptible is definitely worth the listen. Fans will enjoy the type of album they expect from Iced Earth. They’re not necessarily breaking any new ground, but I’m not sure they need to at this point.