Iced Earth main man Jon Schaffer and company are releasing another dose of American power metal on the world with Incorruptible. The album is the third to feature vocalist Stu Block and the first for new axe-slinger Jake Dreyer of White Wizzard and Witherfall fame. Block has proven that he can fill the big shoes that Tim “Ripper” Owens and Matt Barlow left behind, and Dreyer is a guitar virtuoso whose playing and songwriting are huge components of this release. The album by no means breaks any boundaries previously established by the band, but it continues building on the foundation that Iced Earth started laying 30-some years ago.
“Great Heathen Army” opens the album up in grand fashion, and it reminds me of older era Iced Earth. It’s fast and furious, and the riffs are punishing. “Black Flag,” a song about pirates, has a more moderate tempo and contains a melodic feel. “Raven Wing” is slower, ballad-like, and it is incredibly dynamic in feeling. The song builds and to a really cool, punchy, riffy verse before the chorus. The guitar solo is absolutely killer! “The Veil” is very similar to “Raven Wing,” and it starts slowly but builds into a huge chorus. “Seven Headed Whore” is my favorite here. It’s pure Iced Earth doing what they do best, and Block’s vocals rival Rob Halford.
The second half of the album is a bit less flattering to me. “The Relic (Part 1)” is cool, although it comes across as filler. “Ghost Dance (Awaken The Ancestors),” an instrumental track that pays homage to Native Americans, is also cool, but it seems to drag on for too long. “Brothers” is just silly to me. I don’t get it. I understand the “brotherhood of man” type, but this song just comes across as corny. “Clear The Way (December 13th, 1862)” is an ode to Schaffer’s Civil War obsession, and while it is cool as hell, it seems to go on unnecessarily for nine-and-a-half minutes.
Incorruptible is a solid album for Iced Earth, although it is front-loaded in my opinion.
Incorruptible is out today on Century Media Records. Buy it here!