Iced Earth – Night of the Stormrider

Night of the Stormrider is Iced Earth’s second full-length album. Night of the Stormrider is the only album featuring lead singer John Greely (who was later fired) and drummer Rick Secchiari. This album is the band’s magnum opus in my opinion. Why? Allow me to explain.

” Iced Earth’s second effort is a concept album with a mystical, horrific story line. It traces the path of a man who is betrayed by religion and turns away from it in anger. The dark forces of nature reach out to this enraged man and use him as their vessel to bring death and destruction to Earth. Through it all, he feels no remorse for his deeds, and upon reaching the end, numbly accepts his fate of eternity in Hell. Musically, the band picked up a new singer and drummer for this album. The singing is a definite improvement from the debut, ranging from a powerful growl to a Halford-like scream. Such skill is necessary to portray the wide range of feeling on this album. There’s quite a bit of background keys on this disc, some choral moaning, and a memorable piano outro, which all add to the dark mood. There are also several excellent acoustic passages seamlessly interwoven with the driving guitar riffs. The music meshes perfectly with the story, magnifying the hatred, manic joy, confusion, and sadness present in the lyrics. After listening to this musical masterpiece, one cannot help but to feel some of the sadness and guilt that the Stormrider was unable to feel for himself. ” This bit is taken from the Iced Earth site, well, that’s interesting, this thing pretty much sums up my thoughts about this album, but I won’t be lazy, and review this album.

The album starts with a instant Iced Earth classic ( hell, each song on this album is a classic ). The holy choirs and Schaffer’s guitar form the beginning of this epic album. This song sets a dark theme and it’s kept up throughout the entire album. After 1 minute, everything slows down, and it’s just an acoustic guitar playing. Then, we are introduced to vocalist John Greely. After 30+/- seconds a agressive Schaffer riff enters the scene and the song speeds up, only to slow down afterwards. This song is pretty catchy and we get a fantastic guitar solo after the ” Only time will tell my true destiny. ” part.

Next we have another classic track, Stormrider. This song starts with a acoustic section and after 54 seconds, the mood of the song changes drasticly and the song gets really thrashy, while Jon Schaffer enters the scene singing. From this point on, the entire song is sung by Schaffer, and he does a damn good job. His vocals are agressive and are perfect for this thrashy song. This song is filled with awesome riffing and another fantastic guitar solo. Woa, we get some insane riffing with the next song, The Path I Choose. As mentioned, the song starts with some fast riffing by Schaffer. This song has a melodic section later on and then powers off again with some very cool riffs and a guitar solo. The vocals and riffing really stand out in this song ( Matt’s performance of this song at Alive In Athens is even better though ) and this is one of the heaviest songs of the album and ends with a nice scream.

Next we have Before the Vision, this song is a short 1:20 acoustic song. This melodic interlude is perfect after those three thrashy songs prior to this. Mystical End follows this acoustic track and starts very fast. Greely has some great vocal lines here, it has a killer bass section as well, and the guitars are amazing in this track. It’s a real shame they never play this live ( I read in a interview that they played every Stormrider track back in the day, except for this one, which is a real shame ) because I really like it. A cool melodic opening introduces Desert Rain and then we get riff upon riff. Schaffer sings the verses along with Greely in a call-and-answer style, which is very nice. Desert Rain has an irresistible chorus, it’s extremely tempting to sing along, making this song very catchy. This song isn’t that much of a thrasher when compared to Stormrider or The Path I Choose, but still very good, mainly because of that amazing chorus ( and that great Shawver solo ).

Pure Evil, the next track, is one of the absolute classics of Iced Earth’s catalogue. This song is one of Iced Earth’s most brutal, and as mentioned earlier, one of their best songs. The song starts with a cool intro, but the agressive riff kicks in at 0.28, and it will kick you right in your face. Greely sings very agressive in this song and the chorus is awesome ( Puuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuure Evil!!! ). Greely showcases his vocal range in this track with some high melodic singing. This song delivers rapid fire thrash riffs and a lot of time changes. This song is a solid thrasher and has another incredible guitar solo by Shawver. This song will keep you headbanging untill the end.

Reaching The End follows this brutal thrasher and is similar to Before The Vision. You will feel something bad ( which is obviously good for the listener ) is bound to happen when this song ends. Travel in Stygian is the final song of this album, and is the longest song of the album, and the best. This song starts very thrashy ( surprising eh? ) and Greely starts singing after a minute and he sounds plain demonic. Greely delivers his best vocal performace in this song, and so does Schaffer with evil background vocals and galloping riffs. The drums make a superb marching-like tune at around 5.30 and we get a fantastic Greely scream afterwards ( Once again, Matt’s scream is superiour to this one, listen to it on Alive in Athens ). After the scream the riffing continues and the song gets even more agressive and faster. Greely delivers more amazing lines ( The River Styx has called for MEEEEEEEEE!! ) and another ripping passage starts before the last chorus. An enchanting, beautiful piano passage starts after the final chorus, ending this song, and the album in a beautiful and perfect way.

Conclusion – Like I said in the very beginning of this review, Night Of The Stormrider is the best damn album Iced Earth every delivered ( they will never top this album, they came close with Burnt Offerings though ). The only Iced Earth record that comes close to this epic album js Burnt Offerings, all the other Iced Earth albums are average at best when compared to this ( except for Burnt Offerings ). This is must own for Iced Earth fans and metal fans in general. The riffs will rip you to shreds and the vocals and solos will leave you amazed.

Rating – 94/100

Review by JustinMetal88

Original 1991 Cover

Remixed and Remastered 2002 Cover

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~ by Justin on April 13, 2008.

One Response to “Iced Earth – Night of the Stormrider”

  1. Great review, Justin. This is John Greely. I am currently working on another project with my band Seventh Servant. You can find my Myspace if you look for it. I will be adding more information here on metalmania ASAP.

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