Do not be fooled. From the outside, this looks like Iced Earth's new single with a couple of re-recorded tracks tacked on, and that's what it is. But, Iced Earth guitarist and founder, Jon Schaffer, has one reason to believe that this single will sell more than any other of his so far: The return of Matt Barlow.
To an extent, he's right. The reintroduction of Barlow really adds another dimension to 'I Walk Alone' - a song that would slot nicely into the fan-favourite 'Something Wicked This Way Comes' album. The flame-haired vocalist's powerful screams and harrowing delivery work well with Schaffer's chugging riff work and result in the perfect single to promote 'The Crucible of Man', Iced Earth's latest offering.
Unfortunately, the positives end there. The other two songs are merely re-recordings of tracks from 'Framing Armageddon' with Barlow, rather than ex-Judas Priest singer Tim Owens. Whilst Barlow's voice is definitely welcome, I would much preferred to have heard a single new track from 'The Crucible of Man' rather than 2 rehashes.
Still, the strength of 'I Walk Alone' makes me want to hear more of their latest album, which I guess is what Schaffer intended.
Following in the tradition of last year's equally disappointing 'Overture of the Wicked,' here Iced Earth release a mini taster of their forthcoming album in the form of a single song, padded out with a couple of entirely unnecessary re-workings of older songs with a new vocalist. For long-time fans of the band, the most notable feature of this release is the return of favoured singer Matt Barlow, who left the band after the September 11th attacks to join the police force and shave his head, but now seems to have seen the light again. Unlike his predecessor Tim "The Ripper" Owens' butchering of classic Iced Earth material on 'Overture of the Wicked,' here Barlow is only permitted to spoil songs from the previous full-length 'Framing Armageddon,' which wasn't up to the band's highest standards in the first place.
As for the new song itself, 'I Walk Alone' is a pretty good Iced Earth song, plodding along at a steady pace with a catchy chorus but not really achieving anything outside of this. Barlow sounds like he's never been away, continuing with the over-the-top constant wailing of his 'Horror Show' performance that will inevitably become irritating once the full album is released, but not as irritating as The Ripper. The former vocalist's style is mimicked faithfully in the overdubs of 'Setian Massacre' and 'The Clouding,' more obviously in the former, but I can't help feeling cheated once again by the lack of genuine new material here, self-covers exempted.
1. I Walk Alone
2. Setian Massacre
3. The Clouding
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 I Walk Among You