iced earth burned offeringsThe Yer Metal is Olde segment here at Angry Metal Guy has always been one of my favorites. If you’re looking to expand your repertoire with some classics or need a reason to shuffle back through your library, clatter through your jewel cases, or dig through cracked cassettes for nostalgia, this is a segment for olde and younge alike. When flipping through my own collection in search of something to listen to, I came upon a couple choices that made me stop. Not only were these two albums released in ’95, I actually remember purchasing them at the same time. I’ve had a lot of good and bad times with these two albums, and while they’re not the bands’ best, I still love them dearly. When it came to writing a Yer Metal is Olde for one of them, I found the decision quite difficult. Not only because of my own personal comparisons of the two releases but also because of the similarities in events surrounding their creation. So, I chose them both and bring you a very special segment of oldness (well, special to me) that showcases two albums turning twenty this year: Iced Earth’s Burnt Offerings and King Diamond’s The Spider’s Lullabye.

Burnt Offerings is an interesting time in Iced Earth’s career. After not receiving royalties from Iced Earth and Night of the Stormrider, Jon Schaffer went on “strike” against Century Media. Finally settling after three years, Jon struggled with temptations to disband Iced Earth and maintaining the focus needed to write Burnt Offerings, as well as suffering endless setbacks and frustrations related to band member performances and production of said album. The result was a collection of dark, angry material; perhaps the darkest and angriest in the band’s twenty-seven year history.

For fans, frustration mounted as well. For many felt the release lacked the “umph” in riffage and lacked cohesion found in early releases (this is especially apparent following the amazing concept album, Night of the Stormrider). Songs like “Diary,” “Burning Oasis,” and “The Pierced Spirit” felt forced (or pointless) and the gusto of Schaffer’s signature riff changes were borderline mediocre. On the other hand, many fans were excited by the prospect of a singer that could actually sing. Though the vocal duty of Matt Barlow on Burnt Offerings was not exactly superb, this marked a relationship that would span nearly 15 years and initiated an era that many find to be the band’s greatest. Considering all the issues with this release, no one can argue with the badassery that is “Dante’s Inferno.” This piece (along with help from the above average title track, “Last December,” and “Brainwashed”) is what makes Burnt Offerings worth purchasing. The over sixteen-minute song based on the first third of The Divine Comedy finds the band in perfect sync and Barlow on fire. And of all the long-winded masterpieces by Schaffer, this one still remains near the top.

King Diamond The Spiders LullabyeWhere many feel that Burnt Offerings marked a new era for Iced Earth, many felt the opposite for King Diamond in 1995. After fulfilling their Roadrunner contract in 1990 with the underappreciated The Eye album (which the band never promoted via tour due to the lack of label support) and an offer to reunite Mercyful Fate, King put a near finished album and his band on hiatus. With a new contract penned, Mercyful Fate would release In The Shadows [1993] and Time [1994] before Metal Blade extended their offer to King Diamond; triggering a “reuniting” with fresh staff and the five-year sleeping beauty, The Spider’s Lullabye. Interestingly enough, Spider’s Lullabye and the debut album stand as the only albums in the band’s history that are not full concept albums (only the last four tracks of The Spider’s Lullabye represents a concept). So in a way, these two albums mark, in their own ways, “new beginnings” for the band. And so began a new eon for King Diamond that left behind five-classic Roadrunner releases and those diehard fans that feel the band never released anything of substance after 1990.

From ’93 on to ’99, King would share duties between King Diamond and Mercyful Fate before closing the latter up for good (please don’t let that be true). The short periods between album releases and the strain put on his falsetto voice during this time is another subject of discussion between fans; many finding his voice giving way and his dependence on the lower range taking the lead. Thankfully, Spider’s did not suffer from the workload like The Graveyard would later. But what it did suffer from was perhaps one of the worst productions jobs the band has ever released. Even the re-mastered version that sprang up in 2009 couldn’t do much to save the poor recording and mix. Ignoring the lack of a full concept and the lousy production, numbers like “Killer,” “Six Feet Under,” and (my personal favorite) “To the Morgue” do much to make this album memorable. The groove of the latter track would undeniably slay on stage but King never liked the album enough to play much of it live (well, until recently). Additionally, “Dreams” and “Moonlight” are here to give you all those signature falsettos you could ever want and the creepy, eight-minute ditty “Room 17” should fill any remaining voids between the emotive and heavy-as-hell songs of the album.

So, there you have it. A double album roundup of musical mediocrities, personnel frustrations, “disbandings,” “reunitings,” restructurings, label changes, and redirections. Musically, comparing these bands is like comparing apples and oranges, but the events that surround the release of these two controversial albums have always caused me to listen to one-after-the-other ever since I first found them in that rundown record store so many years ago.

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  • Daniele Cerin

    I actually consider Dante’s Inferno the best track Iced Earth made, and i really like the titletrack too I find the album starts and ends with the 2 best tracks.

  • Jeff Manteiga

    Burnt Offerings was one of the first albums that got me into metal. I have to disagree about your “Burning Oasis” comment though, I love that song! The falsetto “priests of the fire release thee for thine inbred vengeance” part is awesome :P It was a nice surprise to see this album on here.

  • Wilbur Teegrus

    Burnt Offerings was one of the first albums that got me into metal. I have to disagree about your “Burning Oasis” comment though, I love that song! The falsetto “priests of the fire release thee for thine inbred vengeance” part is awesome :P It was a nice surprise to see this album on here.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Glad you enjoyed it and sorry for the disagreement… That song doesn’t work for me sadly. But still a cool album.

  • RilesBell

    My King Diamond collection doesn’t go beyond The Eye for the reasons stated above. Maybe I should go back and give some of the more recent albums a chance.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      I’m very biased because I LOVE King (the AMG staff are getting pretty tired of me talking about him all the time…) but I’d definitely check out some later stuff. Most people can agree that The Puppetmaster is a good one.

      • dduuurrrr dddduuuurrrr

        The Graveyard is one of my absolute favorite albums, I don’t get why it’s so underrated.

        I’m also a King Diamond > Mercyful Fate guy, which I’m told is heresy.

        • Dr. A.N. Grier

          I LOVE The Graveyard. Very underrated, very dark, and a personal Halloween-night favorite.

          As for the KD>MF thing, I love both bands equally but probably listen to KD more frequently. Heresy or not, KD is fucking good.

          • Wilhelm

            I usually listen to that one around Halloween too. I’m not sure how I feel, I certainly like the album but don’t love it. This is also when King started singing/talking in a deep voice for part of the time, which still irritates me to an extent.

          • Dr. A.N. Grier

            I think it’s because it has become this Halloween thing for me that I really love it. It has a cool, creepy, fun (as fun as incest can be) feel to it that keeps me coming back. “Digging Graves” and “Trick or Treat” work perfect. But I definitely had to work hard to ignore his lack of falsettos.

          • Carlos Marrickvillian

            Abigail is one of the all time great metal records!

          • Dr. A.N. Grier

            Abigail is my favorite of all of theirs. I still listen to it regularly after all these years.

          • Carlos Marrickvillian

            Yep me too,
            Ive got this playlist I made years ago, with selected tracks from Abigail, Nightfall, Heaven and Hell, Nothingface and British Steel. I never tire of it and Iim always happy when the King’s tunes pop up!

          • Dr. A.N. Grier

            Yes!!!

          • Gonzalo Salazar

            You can still hear her screaming, if you’re walking the stairs in July

            Black Horsemen is one of my favorite songs ever

          • Jean-Luc Ricard

            I probably like both equally, but KD possibly edges it… Andy LaRocque is one of my absolute favourite metal guitarists.

          • Dr. A.N. Grier

            Good man!!!

        • It is heresy! Heresy!!

        • I’ve never liked King Diamond. Mercyful Fate would have been great if not for his vocals.

          In fact I don’t remember hardly anyone at all liking Mercyful Fate and/or King Diamond when I was a kid growing up in the eighties. It was just my brother and like two other people I’d ever met. Nobody liked his vocals in my world then but now he’s Canonical Real Metal. I remember one friend who saw him play to an almost empty theater.

          • Dr. A.N. Grier

            Crazy how times have changed :)

          • LOT of revisionism going on. Even people my age that I know damned well were listening to “hair metal” (right along with first and second wave thrash) are pretending they never did.

          • Dr. A.N. Grier

            Yeah, I know what you mean. It’s interesting. My favorite are the ones that use to eat, breath, and shit bands like Godsmack and Korn, and say “nuh uh dude, that wasn’t me.” My favorite.

          • Some will at least semi-own their shit and go “those were gateway bands for me! I’ve since discovered tr00 metal and now I hate the bands I used to like.” Either they hate themselves or they’re just pretentious adopters of metal blog groupthink.

          • Jean-Luc Ricard

            I own TWO Limp Bizkit albums and I’m goddamned proud!

  • Wilhelm

    Ok, Burnt Offerings is not only the best Iced Earth album, but possibly the darkest, most brooding metal album of its kind; everything on it is perfect and Matt gives us perhaps his best performance (that falsetto in Burning Oasis still gives me chills) NOTSR, Dark Saga and Something Wicked are amazing but Burnt Offerings is just unique, beautiful and magical, lyrically and musically.

    The Spiders Lullaby is hands down the best KD album of the 90’s – worst production and mixing job? Are we hearing the same album? I would say it’s very similar to MF’s Time album and much better than The Eye, which I thought had too thin of a sound. The songs are great – it drags towards the end but on the whole, it’s a pretty great CD (Moonlight is my favorite). I tried listening the the remaster, and as usual, its garbage.

    I applaud your picks but don’t agree with everything that you said in your evaluations.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Nice! Got some opposite thoughts here but that’s all good. I do love Burnt Offerings (obviously) but Dark Saga is still my go-to Matt Barlow-era album

      The production of Spider’s is pretty bad… Agreed, The Eye is not exactly any better. The band has mentioned in the past that Spider’s was the album they really wanted to remaster.

      Thanks for the comments. Good stuff.

    • Wilbur Teegrus

      Ahaha YES I also left a comment specifically mentioning those falsetto notes at the end of Burning Oasis :P

    • Jean-Luc Ricard

      The Spider’s Lullaby is awesome and I really like it. I had no idea there was any issue with it at the time because I only listened to it for the first time a good 15 years after it was released… “From the Other Side,” “Killer” and “The Poltergeist” is such a fantastic trio of songs to open with.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    1995 seems to have been a good year for metal. There have already been a few releases from that year featured in AMG YMiO pieces.
    Draconian Times, In the Nightside Eclipse, Bergtatt, The Angel and the Dark River, Wildhoney and Slaughter of the Soul have all been covered and they’re just the ones I can think of… and lets not forget Stomp 442 which of course was the subject of Steel Drums opposite world retrospective review.

    Has any other year seen so many reviews?

    What is it about 1995 that has seen it the subject of so many features?
    On the surface it seemed a dark time for metal. Carcass released a rock’n roll record then said fuck it and broke up, Kyuss did the same. GnRs seemed more laughable than dangerous. Metallica were making christmas stocking filler albums. Even the mighty Quothron released a confused desperate sounding record… and of course there was Stomp 442

    Despite all that 95 also saw Orchid, Storm of the lights Bane, Destroy, Erase and Improve and Imaginations from the other side…Seems like it may be one of the more influential years…

    • Noobhammer

      Don’t forget that The Gallery by Dark Tranquillity was also released that year, as was Emperor’s almighty In The Nightside Eclipse, and the slow burner that is Slowly We Rot by Obituary. It truly was a great year for all genres.

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        Yes! AMG has already done a Yer Metal is Olde on In The Nightside Eclipse.
        Though, I’m pretty sure Slowly We Rot was much earlier late 80s.
        I’m sure a trawl though metal archives will reveal a stack of great releases to go back to Death and Morbid Angel were at the peak of their powers at that time.

        • Noobhammer

          You’re right! My bad lol, I definitely picked up a reissue of Slowly We Rot then lol

          • Carlos Marrickvillian

            Good times!

      • robpal

        And don’t forget The Gathering’s “Mandylion”, Moonspel’s “Wolfheart”, Gamma Ray’s “Land Of The Free” and probably 15 other amazing albums. Great, great year.

      • Wilhelm

        Amok, Panzerfaust, Sanctified (Morgana Lefay), Symbolic, Theatre of Tragedy, Silent Enigma … ’95 was a great year!

      • AngelOfDeth

        In Flames – The Jester Race is a ’95 release too

  • Noobhammer

    I love Iced Earth so much, and Burnt Offerings is one of my favorite albums by them, from beginning to end. I remember being floored when I first heard Dante’s Inferno on a Century Media sampler. That live version on Alive in Athens is the penultimate version of the song, in my opinion.

    Side note, I think Alive in Athens, the three disc version, is one of the greatest live albums ever produced. Also, where else are you gonna hear greta Barlow mid-song preps like “It’s time now to go across the desert, and watch the rain come falling down. This one is called, ‘Desert Rain!'”

    • robpal

      Just listened to AIA after a long break. For me it’s probably the best live album of all time, Matt sounds like a true BEAST there. The crowd is really engaged in the show, “Travel In Stygian” is Iced Earth’s version of Maiden’s “Fear Of The Dark”, chills down the spine.

    • brutal_sushi

      Every band practice I always do a little “This is off a little record called, Night of the Storm Rider… THIS IS FOR ALL THE BLACK SOULS IN THE AUDIENCE!!! This is called…. PURE evil, PUUURE evil, PUUUUUUURE evil… this is called Pure Evil.”

      • Martin Duhaime

        That moment indeed…

    • Wilhelm

      alive in athens ranks up there with live after death imo.

    • Martin Duhaime

      I totally agree with you. Another awesome live album is Iron Maiden’s “Live After Death” (vinyl version with the super long version of “I’m Running Free” in which Bruce is playing with the audience left and right).

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Listening to Burn’t offerings now… It’s great but I think they take their MoP worship a bit far on ‘Brainwashed’

    • Wilhelm

      Then again tons of metal bands used this same subject for lyrics, as for musical inspiration, Master of puppets is probably not far from the truth.

  • OzanCan

    KING DIAMOND! FTW! Hands down! Though I like Abigail, Them and House of God albums more :)

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      House of God is underrated. I love that album (yes, this is a pattern… I love all King). “This Place Is Terrible” is an awesome track.

  • Chris Timbó

    Wow. I know some don’t care much about KD albums after Conspiracy, but I love Spider’s. Annoyed the hell out of my mom trying to hit the notes of King’s falsetto on Moonlight. Need to hear that album again.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Sing like King. Best way to get sent to your room.

      • Chris Timbó

        Actually, it is a good way to get “permission” to go outside and play.

        “Please, just go already and take that devil music with you!” :-)

  • Gonzalo Salazar

    You forgot the 90’s metal weirdness questions!!!
    Was there rapping on the albums?
    Were there haircuts involved?
    etc…

    (If anyone can provide evidence of King Diamond rapping, I don’t know what I’m going to do. But it won’t be enjoyable for anyone.)

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      I did purposely forget them… Otherwise, I would have written a 2000 word article.

  • Dr. A.N. Grier

    I blame only myself but I can’t stop listening to King Diamond now…

  • Wilhelm

    I forgot to add, In the name of the dark gods summoned by Schaffer for inspiration while writing this album, please do not buy the remaster/remix as it sucks.