The good news: Singer Stu Block, the man of many voices, remains super-powerful on the follow-up to 2011's Dystopia. The Canadian's choirs of doom on Plagues of Babylon's title track are as monumental as Iced Earth's apocalyptic power-metal message demands. Yet while new drummer Raphael Saini (ex-Chaoswave) contributes inventive and forceful parts on bludgeoning numbers like "Democide" and "The Culling," this album only matches its predecessor's aggression, not the songwriting. Disjointed song structures and abrupt endings frequently overshadow Jon Schaffer's razor-edged riffage. The gruff and nasty "Peacemaker," celebrating the outlaw mentality, is an exception. LUCAS AYKROYD
Check out "Plagues of Babylon" from Plagues of Babylon.