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1. Burnt Offerings 2. Last December 3. Diary 4. Brainwashed 5. Burning Oasis 6. Creator Failure 7. The Pierced Spirit 8. Dante's Inferno (all songs composed by Schaffer or Shawver, or by them together with Abel) Jon Schaffer - second lead vocals, rhythm guitars Randall Shawver - lead guitars Dave Abell - bass Matthew Barlow - first lead vocals Rodney Beasley - drums with: Howard Helm - keyboards
The band is based at Morrison brothers' studio "Morrisound" (headquarters of extreme bands), in Tampa, Florida. This is the only real prog-metal album from Iced Earth, whereas all their other albums are made more in the vein of Judas Priest and the like. But, what a masterpiece this very work is! It is a conceptual theological rock opera with two different lead vocalists, one sad, the other aggressive. Each reproduces, along with excellent musical arrangements, various traits of the fallen angel, who isn't here as one-sided as in the Bible ( the same with Judas, or Christ himself in "Jesus Christ Superstar", see "J"). These natures of the devil, double-faced, and ambivalent as the world, are in a constant struggle with this world, and with themselves...
In the first titletrack, someone of an angel intervenes in the argument, by the means of an angelic female voice. Most songs of this album contain, together with these disputes, various arrangements, fantastic dueling solo guitars and interplays between them. Gloomy, melancholy parts with massive keyboards are repeatedly crossed by acoustic and classical guitar passages. Each of the compositions beginning from Last December till Brainwashed, including Creator Failure, contains ten to fifteen absolutely different themes, which could be songs for a usual metal band, and is made up of the true ingredients of progressive rock. The compositions contain thus numerous changes of moods and tempos, from slow- and mid- with sad vocals to fast tempos with aggressive and indignant vocals.
Another two outstanding compositions are placed nearer to the end. The Pierced Spirit sounds as a real symphonic prog piece. To the accompaniment of excellent acoustic guitar passages and soft keyboard themes, the devil in sorrow sings his soliloquies at the gates of Dante's Inferno. After these complex songs, the last 15-minute Dante's Inferno very unexpectedly turns out to be the most progressive and diverse composition on the lands of progressive metal ever. This epic of the last battle of the two minds brings the same eternal questions up without answers...
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