Set to come out on September 5, The Crucible of Man: Something Wicked Part II is the tenth studio album from Iced Earth, this one being the second in the “Something Wicked” series (it’s the second and final installment).
Anyway, I listened to the CD through once, and felt incredibly indifferent about it. I feel that mostly this is because the first album I had heard from Iced Earth was Framing Armageddon: Something Wicked Part 1, and the vocals on that album were gargantuan, for lack of a better word describing the incredible size of the vocals on that album. Granted, the vocals on Crucible of Man are not bad by any means, they simply do not live up to Framing Armageddon with Tim Owens (they now have ex-vocalist Matt Barlow back on board for this album) [See example: "Crucify the King"]. On a second listen, I noticed all the other areas in which the album had been altered from part 1.
In true power metal fashion, this album has balls. Sometimes they’re to the wall, and sometimes they’re nowhere to be found, but you know they’re there. [See example: "Gift or a Curse"] This is your typical power metal ballad type song, one with no fancy pounding rhythms or big vocals, but still manages to have some pretty big cohones for being a ballad (granted, I can’t see it’s balls, but they’ve got to be around here somewhere!).
The lyrics are as well typical power metal lyrics: absurd, epic, and phantasmal. The subject of all the lyrics are of grandiose adventures, oppression of a people that doesn’t exist, and of course, lots of conquering. This in conjunction with the fact that the album flows from end to end quite well, even though you can tell that each song is a separate song works very well for a theme album. In the ‘theme’ aspect, this album is near-perfect.
All in all, the musical performance is far superior in Crucible of Man than it has ever been. The guitar work, the drum work, and the new bassist all put in a very solid performance. Not too much, but still over the top. Not boring, but serene at times. The ebb and flow of music really works, which is all brought in by the aforementioned Matt Barlow vocals. It may be a typical album in nature, but is executed in very good fashion.
Track picks: “Harbinger of Fate” and “Divide and Devour”
Overall score: 8/10 devil horns