August 10th, 2008


Iced Earth: Horror Show

Horror Show
{XXXVI A.S. Starring Jon Schaffer: Rhythm, Lead, Acoustic Guitars, Vocals, Mandolin, Keys; Matt Barlow: Lead Vocals; Larry Tarnowsky: Lead Guitar; Richard Christy: Drums. Genre: Metal / Orchestral. 1 Hour.}

Iced Earth: Horror ShowAn inspired concept album based upon all those wonderful Universal monsters from Dracula to Frankenstein, Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde, the Wolfman, to the mummy, the Creature from The Black Lagoon, ghosts, even The Phantom of The Opera {Lon Chaney version} and Damien! All gather in this masterful spooktacular to delight the sinister senses with imaginative gratification.

Besides the brilliant orchestration, it was pleasing to hear plenty of keyboards and the pipe organ, greatly accentuating the mood these songs create, both effervescent and at times quite somberly haunting, each including recognizable key phrases from those classic films, which really adds an evocative element.

The curtain parts to rolling fog, a grand castle in the background under the full moon, bats scatter to the sound of the demon bell. The stage transforms to scenes of graveyards, misty woods, shadowy London towne, a somber lantern-lit Transylvanian village, a murky swamp, a battlefield, an ancient tomb, concluding with the operatic elegance of a grand theatre...

I. Wolf.

Stemming from legendary tales of beast men roaming the wilderness in the night {and sometimes the day}, Even the song focuses on the original Universal film, starring Lon Chaney. Conversely, the werewolf has always represented The Beast in Man, in which a reconciliation of the two can be achieved. Ergo, "There is a beast in man which should be exercised, not exorcised." Parallels can also been seen in The Hulk.

II. Damien.

Glorious uses of choral splendor accentuates the multi-layered dimension herein, including quite an intense recitation of Thorn's Messe Noir repudiation of the nazarene from the Omen III's blasphemous chamber scene. The song chronicles his evolution from 1-3. Even though the so-called 'Anti-Christ' is a christian invention, it can be rather entertaining at times nonetheless.

III. Jack.

With shades of 'From Hell', Jack The Ripper prowls the foggy London night to gain vengeance with a distorted sense of morality against the ladies of the evening. The alleged 'son of a hundred men' {also recall Freddy Krueger's 'origins'}, he deals with a classic mother complex by slaying her in proxy.

IV. Ghost of Freedom.

A melancholic ballad remembering those warriors slain in battle, who haunt memories of appreciative contemplation.

V. Im-Ho-Tep {Pharaoh's Curse}.

Based on the film The Mummy, from the sands of time, The Pharaoh emerges from his tomb to walk again among mortals, at the bidding of The Necromancer. The song appropriately features Middle-Eastern instrumentation such as the exotically-erotic sounds of the sitar.

VI. Jeckyll & Hyde.

Jeckyll & Hyde displays an obvious bi-polar element, with the character at odds with himself, perhaps in this specific case, emerging uncontrolled via "the potion" {alcohol / drug abuse}. Some comparisons have been made with the werewolf, although where that characterization is considered involuntary, "Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde" is purposeful, but may also have been a negative statement against pharmaceuticals altogether {which was at one time considered to be The Devil's art} by hysterical religious fanatics.

VII. Dragon's Child.

Once again based on the original Universal character "The Creature From The Black Lagoon", and again acknowledging man as part of the animal kingdom, this character is obviously from the vast, mysterious abyssal deep, representing primal fears. Interesting to note that more is actually known and catalogued about "outer space", than "inner space".

VIII. Transylvania.

Segue-way Instrumental featuring brilliant guitar work, providing the perfect stage for many a horror tale, as we enter a truly bewitching land...

IX. Frankenstein.

The Promethean metaphorical essence of this tale is asserted herein, exploring the 'forbidden' aspect of scientific iconoclasm, where genius traverses all limitations, shattering taboos to promote evolution. To a lesser extent, Mary Shelly's "Frankenstein" has also alluded to artificial human companions, as well as the story of Galatea.

X. Dracula.

Bram Stoker's infamous Prince of Darkness is resurrected to claim his due and prey upon his victims in opulent grace, a-la the Bela Lugosi presentation, combined with Francis Coppola's enchantingly beautiful version as well, specifically with Prince Vlad's liberating self-empowerment in the realization of "God's" ingratitude, thus departing from service, achieving true freedom.

XI. The Phantom Opera Ghost.

While not actually a 'ghost' {this character is not dead, but resides in the recesses of the opera house manipulating the superstitions of the performers and the crowd to gain his will in acquiring his dear love, the beautiful Christine for his own}, this song contains some wonderfully tender moments, recalling certain memorably romantic scenes from the play, accentuated by the lovely female voice of Yunhui Percifield. Pipe organ by Howard Helm adds an appropriately pleasing eerie element overall, also quite reminiscent of the beloved play.


Cover art features a creature named "Set Abominae" who appears to be a compendium of all these legendary monsters emerging specterous from a magnificent castle. The booklet features splendid artistry by Jon Schaffer, each hosted by their respective denison - most remarkable is the group shot which resembles a piece drawn by this very writer entitled "Hallowe'en" {circa XXXII A.S.}, which includes these archetypes, and more. Also see The Four-Crown Princes of Helloween.

Also included in the center of the booklet, is an impressive two-page spread photograph of the band*, with The Devil's Tower in the background.

Remarkably, Iced Earth splendidly manages to combine the classically cinematic with this genre style, similar to King Diamond's musickal horror themes, rendered in their own particular style. In My opinion, is probably their best.


* Present is one Richard Christy, who participated in Acheron's 'Anti-God, Anti-Christ', which also features cover art by Magister Rex Diabolus Church.