Iced Earth: Tim Owens (vocals); Tim Mills (guitars); Brent Smedley (drums); Jon Schaffer (background vocals).
Personnel: Jon Schaffer (guitar, bass guitar); Tim Mills (guitar).
Recording information: Soaring Eagle Sound (02/2007-03/2007).
While heavy metal with an unmistakable '80s flair has been adopted by countless up-and-comers circa the early 21st century, Iced Earth have been worshipping at the altar of Iron Maiden and their ilk since the early '90s. And on their ninth release overall (and first-ever EP), Overture of the Wicked, the group continues its ongoing search for the greatest Maiden or King Diamond riff never written. Former Judas Priest vocalist Tim "Ripper" Owens is back once more behind the mike, and his ability to alternate between traditional metal yelling and shrieking proves to be a fine fit throughout Overture of the Wicked -- especially on the triumphant-sounding album opener, "Ten Thousand Strong," and the rapid-fire "Birth of the Wicked." At only four songs in length (and three being re-recordings of earlier tracks), Overture of the Wicked is being billed as a "prelude" to a double album set for late 2007, Framing Armageddon. ~ Greg Prato