Iced Earth's first three albums are much more progressive, atmospheric, and energetic than their future releases; many fans of the band hold this era in the highest regard. Unfortunately, the original albums were lacking in the production department, but the versions here bring the sound of these albums up to par with the rest of their discography. The band's self-titled debut album features Gene Adam on vocals. Though his overall aesthetic would far better fit a more straight-forward thrash act a la Exodus, his histrionics do little to mar such career highlights as the title track, "Colors" (lyrically riffing on Iron Maiden's "Killers"), and closing track "When the Night Falls".
Sophomore effort 'Night of the Stormrider' was a much more ambitious concept album that had John Greely taking the role as lead singer. He displays a melodic yet diverse singing style (especially when compared to his predecessor), utilizing death growls, high-pitched shrieks, and everything in between. The album contains many fan favorites and setlist mainstays, including "Angels Holocaust", the Schaffer-sung "Stormrider" (the closest that the band ever got to pure thrash metal), "Pure Evil", and "Travel in Stygian".
After a three-year hiatus, Schaffer returned with his third singer thus far, Matt Barlow. By far the band's best vocalist, he has one of the most emotional and powerful voices in metal. The ensuing album, 'Burnt Offerings', ended up being both the heaviest and darkest album of the band's career. The album works best as a whole and is extremely consistent (if not immediately memorable at times), but the song for which it is best remembered is "Dante's Inferno", the longest song released by Iced Earth at over 16 minutes. Drawing upon Dante Alighieri's epic poem 'Inferno' for inspiration, the song boasts a myriad of brilliant riffs and an overwhelmingly gothic tone; the song's climax is perhaps the most relentlessly venomous section in Iced Earth history.
The three albums in this box set have been remixed and remastered in such a way so that all of the murkiness of the originals is removed without sacrificing any of the atmosphere that separates them from the remainder of the band's albums. For the collector, 'Enter the Realm', Iced Earth's 1989 demo, is included for the first time on CD, as is a collection of covers aptly titled 'Tribute to the Gods'. Neither of these are of much importance to casual fans or newcomers, though. Iced Earth is one of the most criminally underrated metal bands in history, and their legacy rests upon the three albums contained herein. Highly recommended to fans of classic heavy metal and power metal.