Although the band might have been breaking in new singer Stu Block on its last album, 2011's Dystopia, Iced Earth's 11th studio album, Plagues of Babylon, finds the band returning as a tighter unit whose members know how to play to each other's strengths with a more collaborative effort. Where the previous album primarily featured music written by founding member Jon Schaffer with lyrics by Block, Plagues of Babylon shows the beginnings of a burgeoning partnership between the two, as well as writing contributions from guitarist Troy Seele, with the trio oftentimes sharing the writing duties on both sides of the fence in some combination or other. The collaboration is one that pays dividends for the band, which delivers an album that manages to sound appropriately epic without feeling aimless. Thanks to his time in Into Eternity (a group that can string riffs together with the best of them), Block is no stranger to songs that evolve and shift, and songs that he and Schaffer worked on together, like the ripping Western epic "Peacemaker," move with purpose. With the songs always moving toward something new and different, Plagues of Babylon never feels like it's dragging its heels -- a boon, given its running time of just over an hour. Instead, the album showcases a new creative partnership that should excite longtime Iced Earth fans (who are also treated to more entries in the ongoing Something Wicked story line), as the heavy metal journeymen head into their third decade of rocking.
AllMusic Review by Gregory Heaney