Album Review: Horror Show

OK, first, blog news: I have a new blog where I make a recording about hockey. Check it out at http://mcguireisterrible.blogspot.com!

I’ve been on a huge Iced Earth kick lately. Iced Earth has always clocked in as one of my favourite bands, but the albums I would generally consider to be best by them were The Dark Saga, Something Wicked This Way Comes, Night of the Stormrider, and of course the masterful 3 CD live set from Alive in Athens. But recently I think all those albums have been supplanted by one I had always sort of dismissed: Horror Show.

Iced Earth has this great tradition of theme albums and concept albums, and they usually work out pretty good (though I’m not sold on the two new Something Wicked albums). The Dark Saga is probably their most famous theme album, and it is about Spawn (the comic book character). But Horror Show takes the theme concept to an excellent conclusion. Each track on the album tackles a horror-esque figure.

The album has two long epic tracks, which I consider the best. “Damien” is about the Antichrist rising to rule over all mankind, and “The Phantom Opera Ghost” is about Erik’s mad and murderous obsession with Christine. The album has some fantastic shorter rockers – “Wolf” and “Jack” both rock. “Jack” (about the Ripper) especially I find good. It makes me feel very aggressive when I listen to it. Not to women, but just in general. I’d listen to it before a sporting match.

There’s a few good medium length songs. “Dracula”, “Frankenstein”, and “Jeckyl and Hyde” have good riffs, decent solos, and the lyrics fit the theme. “Ghost of Freedom” is an almost ballad-style song. If you’re familiar with Iced Earth, you know that Jon Schaffer (the guy who is pretty much the core of Iced Earth) is a huge Americo-nut. I only found out recently he’s pretty much a Tea Partier, which has hurt my opinion of him. I get loving your country, but anyway…”Ghost of Freedom” is very close to a “When The Eagle Cries” stinker, but not quite. Unlike The Glorious Burden, this song doesn’t smack of American jingoism, but more of a quieter patriotism. It could be used in the propagation of Canada’s national myth, for instance.

“Dragon’s Child”, originally, sounds like an OK rocker, but that’s giving it a lot of benefit of the doubt. The lyrics are boring and the music is pretty plain. “Im-Ho-Tep”, by comparison, is a bit more exciting and tends to be a decent middle-of-the-road song.

They use a lot of effects on the lyrics, especially on “Wolf”, “Jack”, and “Im-Ho-Tep”, doubling or tripling lines. On “Wolf”, the chorus is jumbled together, probably representing the multiple forms of the subject lycanthrope. “Jack” and “Im-Ho-Tep” use more of an echo, to represent the Ripper’s tortured soul and the Mummy’s time encased in stone.

Anyway, despite the lower points, I’m addicted to the album. 9.5/10

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