Iced Earth: 'The Dark Saga' Album Review

Iced Earth: 'The Dark Saga' Album Review

'The Dark Saga' is Iced Earth's most emotional album thanks to Barlow's amazing vocals and Schaffer's terrific songwriting
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Lineup:

Jon Schaffer - Rhythm Guitar / Vocals

Randall Shawver - Lead Guitar

Matthew Barlow - Lead Vocals

Dave Abell - Bass Guitar

Mark Prator- Drums

Additional info:

Recorded at Morrisound Studios, Tampa, Florida (January – February 1996).

Produced by Jim Morris and Jon Schaffer.

Year: 1996

Album Length: 43:54

Genre: US Power Metal, Heavy Metal

Label: Century Media

Background:

With their fourth album, Iced Earth continues to evolve. The Dark Saga is a concept album based on the Spawn comic book series. It tells the story of a man who sells his soul in order to come back to his true love on Earth. But he soon discovers that she has married his own best friend. He is left completely alone in the world, and although he has good inside, he is influenced by the dark forces that are inside him. Every one of his desires is denied, even his own death. The focus is now less on the technical side and more on the lyrics and sounds of the emotional story. Therefore, the music is generally more dark, emotional, melodic, and simple than other Iced Earth albums. The heaviness is still there, but now it is intertwined with more melodic and emotional elements. The Dark Saga is Iced Earth's most thoughtful and emotional work to date.


The Good:

The concept of this album makes it that much better. The songs are great when played together or when played separately. The storytelling that is on display during this album is probably the band's finest.

I love the emotional lyrics and instrumentation of the record. Barlow's vocals are dripping with soul and the band's playing is perfect.

This album gives Iced Earth fans a nice variation of more melodic tracks as well as heavier ones. Tracks like "Violate" will satisfy the fans of the thrash-oriented side of Iced Earth and fans of more melodic tracks will love the more emotional side of the band as demonstrated on several tracks including "I Died for You."

This is an album that gets better with time. The heavier Iced Earth albums may stand out more at first, but after several listens, I can almost guarantee that this album will be played repeatedly by any fan of this band.

The Bad:

There are no glaring weaknesses with Iced Earth's fourth album, but there are two tracks that I am not crazy about in the middle portion of the album. "The Last Laugh" and "Depths of Hell" are both decent, but they are certainly not great like every other track on the album.

Favorite Tracks:

Track 1: Dark Saga

"Dark Saga" is an excellent opener with great lyrics, a dark atmosphere, and extremely catchy riffs. It may be a more simple and straightforward sound when compared to the band's last album, but it shows maturity as well as growth from the band.

Track 2: I Died for You

This is probably my favorite Iced Earth ballad. It is extremely catchy and great to sing along to. This is definitely one of the band's most memorable tracks thanks to its fantastic chorus and Barlow's terrific vocals. The emotion and soul that the band plays with is fantastic and really gives this song a terrific atmosphere that is dripping with emotion.

Track 4: The Hunter

This song is one of the band's most epic tracks that they have ever done. The song tells the story of "The Hunter" who is an angel that has come down to slay the hellspawn. There is a great mix of both melodic and heavy riffs throughout this entire track. There is also a nice guitar solo.

Track 7: Vengeance is Mine

The beginning of this track sets up the atmosphere of this song perfectly. Iced Earth shows off their fast-paced riffs during this track which happens to be one of the heaviest on the entire album. The guitar solo is fantastic and the lyrics are also extremely good. For example, "I shall do what the law won't do, I can make the sacrifice." This song is speaking about Spawn taking vengeance upon a child killer in the hopes that it will set him back on the path to righteousness.

Track 9: Slave to the Dark

This track is the second of a three-part trilogy called "The Suffering" that ends this album. It is fantastic thanks to a great mix of atmosphere, fast paced riffs, terrific vocals, and more fantastic lyrics. The chorus is one of the most memorable from the album and the guitar solo is definitely one of the best that Iced Earth has ever done. This is a fantastic track from beginning to end.

Track 10: A Question of Heaven

This is a wonderful closer that ends the album on an incredibly high note. It has beautiful lyrics, excellent vocals, and emotional playing from all of the members of the band. I love the addition of backing female vocals makes the song that much better. Barlow's vocal performance is incredible on this track and he again demonstrates why he is one of the best lead singers of all time. The song is a great mix of the melody and the heaviness that makes Iced Earth such a great band. This song is probably the best from the entire album.


Rating Scale:

1: Garbage

1.5: Awful

2: Bad

2.5: Mixed

3: Decent

3.5: Good

4: Great

4.5: Excellent

5: Perfect

Verdict:

Iced Earth's fourth album is excellent. The Dark Saga gets better with more listens thanks to the emotional vocals of Matt Barlow and the terrific songwriting from Jon Schaffer. The concept of the album is easy to follow and also easy to become entrenched in. The Dark Saga is one of Iced Earth’s most thoughtful and emotional works to date.

Rating:

Cover Image Credit: youtube.com

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What Taurus Season 2019 Means For Your Zodiac Sign

Taurus season brings you back to the world that exists in front of you right now.

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Aries season, it's been real. We kicked off a new astrological year with the sign of the ram last month, and it put a fire under all of us when it came to starting new projects and speaking our minds.

Prepare to feel more tuned into the present moment because the sun has left behind high-energy Aries in exchange for Taurus. While some of us may feel bittersweet about the change, others will be reveling in it. It's a good time to be an earth sign.

As a fixed Earth sign, Taurus energy tends to be grounded, slow-moving, and very much rooted in the physical realm. This 2019 Taurus season, from 20 April to 20 May, is also the start of a long chapter of internal metamorphoses, which began when Pluto started retrograde on April 24.

Of course, the coming month will bring all different sorts of ups and downs for everyone, so here's what Taurus season 2019 means for each zodiac sign.

1. Taurus (20 Apr - 20 May)

the fixed Earth sign

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Happy birthday Taurus! You've survived another year and you should look back on just how much you've experienced and learned. It's time for you to focus on who you are becoming, as opposed to how you've seen yourself in the past. Don't be afraid to make a big change that lets the world know who you are now. What you do now will only enrich your growth. Anything that you can do to get out of your normal routine and shake things up is going to feel amazing.

2. Gemini (21 May - 20 Jun)

the mutable air sign

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Pay attention to your dreams, feelings, and intuition for practical guidance on how to strengthen and stabilize your inner world. Look at change as a process to help you grow. Hitting your goals is going to feel especially excellent this month.

3. Cancer (21 Jun - 22 Jul)

the cardinal water sign

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As Taurus season begins the moon wanes, giving you the chance to reach your goals. Take time to visualize your goals this month. Consider how you bring joy to your work, and how you bring happiness to the lives of your loved ones.


4. Leo (23 Jul - 22 Aug)

the fixed fire sign

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Make the most of this time by taking concrete steps toward achieving long-term goals. Go out and enjoy nature, anything to quiet the mind & experience some tranquility.

5. Virgo (23 Aug - 22 Sep)

the mutable Earth sign

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What you're really feeling inspired to do is open your mind and drink in new experiences. Leave behind your predictable routine and try something new. If an opportunity to go the distance arrives, don't let doubt hold you back. Trust that the wind wants to take you places. Broadening your physical, mental and spiritual horizons -- through travel, study or meditation -- gives you valuable new insights into how to create greater security and abundance.

6. Libra (23 Sep - 22 Oct)

the cardinal air sign

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Flexibility will be your greatest strength. Hold your head high as your ruling planet Venus moves through fiery Aries. Keeping a positive mindset will help you navigate the unexpected. You've got this.

7. Scorpio (23 Oct - 21 Nov)

the fixed water sign

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It's time for you to go back to the drawing board when Pluto, your planetary ruler goes retrograde. Take an objective look back at your most important ideas from last year and where your learning opportunities lie. Look for feedback from your friends and coworkers to get a better scope of your goals and where they should be.

8. Sagittarius (22 Nov - 21 Dec)

the mutable fire sign

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Use this earthy influence to implement new and improved self-care habits and strengthen your overall sense of health and well-being. Make a list of your priorities to your happiness and well being first, and fit in time to achieve your goals. The key to success is consistency.

9. Capricorn (22 Dec - 19 Jan)

the cardinal Earth sign

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Cut out all the nonsense in your life preventing you from feeling a deeper sense of joy. This nonsense could take the form of a mental block or habits no longer serving you. Take time to inspect your goals and if they are truly serving your needs.

10. Aquarius (20 Jan - 18 Feb)

the fixed air sign

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Balance is critical this season, so be sure to take care of your health and incorporate something nurturing into your daily routine. Pluto's retrogrades only occur once per year - look back at the hurdles you've overcome and use your adaptability to your advantage. Get out of your comfort zone and expand your mind by pursuing your niche interests.

11. Pisces (19 Feb - 20 Mar)

the mutable water sign

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Reflect on your aspirations when transformative Pluto goes retrograde. Consider how you're spending your energy and if you can redirect it towards healing and relaxing instead of breaking new ground.

12. Aries (21 Mar - 19 Apr)

the cardinal fire sign

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After celebrating your season, the sun is ready to help you buckle down this week, Aries. Take in the spring weather and enjoy the sunshine. Prepare for mysterious Pluto's retrograde by looking inward. Take time to clarify what you have, what you need and what you want.

Be sure to meditate, chill, and make time for a little journaling or quiet space this month after a very busy and powerful birthday period!

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