Album Review: Iced Earth – Plagues of Babylon
Posted by Reggie
I have to admit that Iced Earth never really did much for me until Stu Block entered the band and recorded vocals on Dystopia. I can’t remember how it came to be that I heard it, but when I did I liked it so much that it made my end-of-year list for 2011. Perhaps I am biased because I like Into Eternity, Stu’s previous band from the great white north of Canada. If that’s the case, so be it. Needless to say, based on the weight of Dystopia, I have been looking forward to their sophomore effort featuring Block at the helm – The Plagues of Babylon. As a career, this is Iced Earth’s eleventh studio album.
As you would imagine, the album kicks off on an upbeat state after a little battle hymn buildup. Unlike many albums, the lead off track isn’t pulse pounding in the sense of speed and angst. It’s more…mature I guess you could say. The album then transitions over the next few songs to more a more melodic center of gravity despite a few speedy songs here and there. Much like Dystopia with its Iron Maiden-like progressive nuances, Plagues of Babylon follows a similar path. Certain new songs remind me a bit of older songs (from Dystopia). The Culling has the vibe of Anthem and several new songs remind me of Dark City and End of Innocence.
Plagues of Babylon is essentially half of a concept album. About six songs revolve around a theme where the rest have no relation. The overarching theme centers on a zombie apocalypse which, of course, is started by the government and/or those that control the government. Chaos ensues and it all ends, or does it end…implies track #6, The End? Yes, that is a purposeful question mark. Are zombies still in? I like zombies, I just don’t want to be one.
I will give Iced Earth credit for another quality album with its only (minor) downfall not being much of a departure from their last album. I won’t hold it against them since I thought Dystopia was a great album, Plagues of Babylon is safe and comfortable and continues a cool trend of me liking Iced Earth where I never did before.