Navigate: main >> reviews

Iced Earth
The Crucible of Man (Something Wicked Part II)

Company: Steamhammer
Release: 2008
Genre: Power, traditional
Reviewer: Raising Iron

  • An average Iced Earth album and nothing more

  • The carousel of characters revolving in and out of Iced Earth's caustic cauldron continues in 2008 with the release of The Crucible of Man (Something Wicked Part 2) as the revered Matt Barlow is back behind the mic; Tim "Ripper" Owens now off to sing for Yngwie Malmsteen (for a short spell I'm sure!). It's a welcome return despite a superb performance on Framing Armageddon (Something Wicked Part I) by Mr. Owens.

    For the uninitiated, this "double" concept album has roots that go way back to the trilogy found at the end of 1998's Something Wicked This Way Comes. The story found there is now fully fleshed out over the scope of 2 albums with 2007 seeing Part 1 released while "Ripper" was still singing with the band, and now Part 2 concludes the tale in 2008. But that's not all diehards, Jon Schaffer has intimated he intends to re-record Part 1 with Matt on vox, and clean up a few minor details in the production/mix of that release, only then to be issued in a "box set" with Parts I & II together. Get out your shillings so you can purchase these albums, again!

    Anyway, despite that bit of annoyance, what we have here is an average Iced Earth album and nothing more. I can't believe things turned out as such as I, like most, see Barlow as the rightful vocalist to front this band, but something here is missing, and after many months of listening to this I think I can finally put my finger on it. There just isn't that mean snarl coming out of the mix like in the past. We know Jon can write concept albums, just look to The Dark Saga for a stellar example, but here things feel a bit uninspired, and like I said, there just isn't that viciousness heard from the music (or Matt) that we've heard in the past. Everything is in place here too, which just makes things that much more of an enigma; great crunchy riffs, instantly recognizable as being Jon and his style, epic constructs, majestic movements with lots of shading, Matt's vocals spot on, and a grand mix to boot. "I Walk Alone" and "Harbinger of Hate" are definite live fare, as well as the grandiose climax of "Come What May", yet, despite all this, I'm still liking Part I better, the songs there being more memorable and a bit more dynamic.

    This isn't a bad album, all the elements that make up the power metal periodic table are here and in place, but Iced Earth can and has done better. Maybe it's because this was all written before Matt returned, hence he didn't have as large a hand in the shaping of the songs and melodies this time out. Maybe I'm just getting jaded with this genre, or the whole "concept album(s)" idea in general. Whatever the reason, it's a decent release, but here's hoping that Jon and whatever gang he ends up with next time around pares things down and get back to giving us a nasty power metal kick in the pants!

    Maximum Metal Rating Legend - Click for Full Details
    5 Excellent - Buy it and say a prayer to the metal gods that you were tuned on to this masterpiece. A classic.
    4-4.5 Great - Almost perfect records but there's probably a clunker or a lacking somewhere to keep it from perfection. You won't feel bad about dropping some bones on these.
    3.5 Good - Most of the record is good, but there may be some filler. This is the OK range where you'd search for the record on sale or used.
    3 Average - Some good songs, some bad ones at about a half/half ratio. Could show skills but be dull overall. Redeeming qualities for indy bands are effort and passion. Majors that don't try or suck outright end up here.
    2-2.5 Fair - Worth a listen, but best obtained by collectors. There is much better metal out there.
    1-1.5 Bad - Major problems with music, lyrics, production, etc.
    0 Terrible or an otherwise waste of your life and time.

    Note: Reviews are graded from 0-5, anything higher or not showing is from our old style. Scores, however, do not reveal the important features. The written review that accompanies the ratings is the best source of information regarding the music on our site. Reviewing is opinionated, not a qualitative science, so scores are personal to the reviewer and could reflect anything from being technically brilliant to gloriously cheesy fun.

    Demos and independent releases get some slack since the bands are often spent broke supporting themselves and trying to improve. Major releases usually have big financial backing, so they may be judged by a heavier hand. All scores can be eventually adjusted up or down by comparison of subsequent releases by the same band. We attempt to keep biases out of reviews and be advocates of the consumer without the undo influence of any band, label, management, promoter, etc.

    The best way to determine how much you may like certain music is to listen to it yourself.

    All reviews for this band:
    Days of PurgatoryIced Earth
    Frank Hill9/30/2003
    DystopiaIced Earth
    Greg Watson10/23/2011
    Festivals of the WickedIced Earth
    Greg Watson8/5/2011
    Framing ArmageddonIced Earth
    Gettysburg DVDIced Earth
    Ken Pierce6/9/2005
    Live In Ancient KourionIced Earth
    Eric Compton5/10/2013
    Plagues of BabylonIced Earth
    Greg Watson2/21/2014
    The Crucible of ManIced Earth
    The Crucible of ManIced Earth
    Raising Iron1/13/2009
    The Glorious BurdenIced Earth
    Ken Pierce6/16/2004
    The Glorious BurdenIced Earth
    Eric Compton1/21/2004
    The Glorious BurdenIced Earth
    Anthony Burke12/11/2003
    The Reckoning EPIced Earth
    Frank Hill11/21/2003

    Interviews found from this band:
    Jon SchafferIced EarthGreg Watson2/7/2012
    Jon SchafferIced EarthKen Pierce9/14/2005

    You may also like:

    Mystic Prophecy   |   InnerWish   |   Nordic Union   |   Primal Fear   |   Axel Rudi Pell   |   Brainstorm   |   Maxxxwell Carlisle   |   Symphony X   |   Unleash the Archers   |   Lethal Saint   |   

    << back >>

    Diamond Head
    Diamond Head
    One Machine
    The Final Cull
    Black Star Riders
    Killer Instinct
    October 31
    Bury the Hatchet

    For I Am King
    High Hopes
    Sights & Sounds
    Amon Amarth
    For I Am King
    We All Have Demons
    Voices of Ruin
    Born of the Dark

    Monster Truck
    Sittin' Heavy
    Madame Torment
    Lost Girl in the City
    Honeymoon Disease
    The Transcendence
    Condition Hüman
    Unleash the Archers
    Time Stands Still