REVIEW: ICED EARTH – “Enter the Realm” [EP]
Exactly 30 years after its original release, Iced Earth will reissue ‘Enter the Realm’ – their first ever recording – digitally, and on vinyl for the first time ever. Jon Schaffer had a very different lineup then, with Greg Seymour (drums), Gene Adam (vocals), Dave Abell (bass) and Randy Shawver (guitar), which was basically the essence of the band when called Purgatory.
Having been released in the ‘Days of Purgatory’ (1997) and ‘Enter the Realm of the Gods’ (2008) compilations, as well as in the ‘Dark Genesis’ boxed-set (2001), the songs here are not alien to the fans, but rather slightly differently mastered in this new EP. There is a better instrumental spacing and it’s easier to differentiate the several sound layers, which makes this an interesting hearing, at the least.
From opener “Enter the Realm” it becomes evident that Shaffer aimed at crystal-clear music and modern use of production tools, but without losing the essence of the organic, analogic sound of the heydays. “Colors” comes in right after, displaying the characteristic galloping riffs and the hybrid power/thrash vibe that Iced Earth is known for these days. Essentially, the song illustrates well the new and improved mastering, as well as provides some good banging moments.
“Nightmares” and “To Curse the Sky” are two other lost classics that serve as great examples of how raw, yet already focused Shaffer was with his ideas for Iced Earth. Both feature plenty of elements that would be heavily used in the band’s other albums, especially ‘Iced Earth’ (1990) and ‘Night of the Stormrider’ (1991).
Another intro in “Solitude” paves the way to the rawer, slightly more aggressive version of “Iced Earth”, which closes the EP and is definitely the icing on the cake. While Adam’s voice is virtually the same as in the version on Iced Earth’s eponymous album, some other parts of the song are more vibrant and sound less rehearsed, which gives the track a lot of charm. But hey, I don’t need to keep talking about what is arguably their most classic tune, right? It’s awesome, period.
‘Enter the Realm’ combines the f*c*ing awesome music released way back in 1989 with a cool new cover (although that original white artwork in the tape version was the shit) and some beautiful versions, including several 180g vinyl ones in black, transparent, red, lilac, white and transparent blue – the latter will only be sold by the band, and will include a copy of the original demo tape signed by Schaffer, Adam, and Seymour.
This EP is actually not mandatory if you’re looking for the music alone, because this was released in several formats over the years, but a definite need-to-have for collectors and for those who are looking to have the closest experience to the original ‘Enter the Realm’ possible. Great stuff.