Though my faith in Iced Earth has always remained strong, I found myself doubting the band's writing ability after The Glorious Burden. I was baffled by several of the album's inconsistencies, but mainly because John Schaffer and Tim Owens were behind the mess. As time prevailed, the second stage of Owens' saga in Iced Earth returned in the form of Overture of the Wicked, which is the first sample of new Iced Earth material since 2004. I wasn't expecting much from this CD, but Iced Earth proved my original expectations wrong with their fresh attitude and redefined anatomy.
The sweetest scent emitting from Overture of the Wicked is the world's first snippet of new Iced Earth substance since The Glorious Burden in 2004. The presented track is titled "Ten Thousand Strong," and it proudly resurrects Iced Earth from their last slump of poor material. The legendary Jon Schaffer delivers a set of heavy riffs that nestles between a healthy medium of thrash and traditional metal. The chops are quickly executed with great expertise, yet Schaffer's shredding episode manages to appear simultaneously epic and natural, which is a core element The Glorious Burden lacked.
Each member of Iced Earth properly contributes a great show of instrumental brilliance that displays the group's stellar musicianship. The bass and drums continually thump throughout the song without loosing any momentum or significance to the track's foundation. After devouring the chorus, a pleasant taste begins to swish around in your mouth and causes mass salivation, which is mainly done by Tim Owens and his amazing vocal lines. The singing arrangement in "Ten Thousand Strong" is perfectly placed, meaning it really couldn't have been a better fit for the song. Owens erupts into the chorus with the right amount of passion in his voice, but he also nails an unparalleled barrage of notes worth hearing again and again. What an excellent song!
The updated version of the "Something Wicked This Way Comes" trilogy is an unexpected gem due to its risky recording, but it still greatly compliments "Ten Thousand Strong." There are few differences in terms of the actual music, length, and production, but replacing Matt Barlow with Tim Owens is certainly an interesting transition. It's neat to compare Barlow and Owens in terms of their performance, pitch, and overall singing ability on these three tracks, but to say one is better than the other is simply impossible to decide. It's a great addition to this disc nonetheless.
This little CD only has four tunes, but it packs a wallop of Iced Earth at their best. Any Iced Earth fan should buy Overture of the Wicked for all the great stuff here, but I also suggest this to new Iced Earth fans. Consider this: you'll get introduced to one of the most legendary metal acts of all time, and it won't cost much either.