Iced Earth

Night of the Stormrider

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Florida's Iced Earth were swimming against the tide in 1992. At a time when alternative rock was wiping the rock & roll slate clean and putting hundreds of heavy metal bands out of business, seemingly overnight, the band's uncompromising blend of classic metaland thrash (think Iron Maiden meets Slayer) was about as unfashionable as it got. And, to make matters worse, their sophomore effort, Night of the Stormrider, was a full-blown concept album about a man's fall from grace and subsequent questioning of organized religion. Guitarist and principal songwriter Jon Shaffer went to great lengths to diversify the band's already complex sonic palette, adding acoustic guitar passages and atmospheric keyboards to outstanding cuts like "Angel's Holocaust," "Before the Vision," "Pure Evil," and the awesome "Desert Rain." New vocalist John Greely has a good set of lungs and usually manages to keep up with the manic pace, but is clearly the weak link in the band's equation and would not return after this album. All in all, Night of the Stormrider was a solid effort which simply arrived at the wrong time, and, after assessing the general public's indifference, Shaffer would place Iced Earth on ice for almost three years.

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