The Dark Saga

The Dark Saga
The Dark Saga
Studio album by Iced Earth
Released July 23, 1996
Recorded Morrisound Studios, Tampa, Florida, January-February 1996
Genre Power metal, thrash metal
Length 43:54
Label Century Media
Producer Jim Morris
Jon Schaffer
Professional reviews

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Iced Earth chronology
Burnt Offerings
The Dark Saga
Days of Purgatory

The Dark Saga is the fourth album by the American heavy metal band Iced Earth. It is a concept album based upon the comic book character Spawn created by Todd McFarlane, who also provided the album artwork.



The Dark Saga tells the story of a man who sells his soul to the devil in order to return to his true love on Earth ("Dark Saga"), but he soon discovers that she is married to his own best friend ("I Died for You"). He is left completely alone in the world, and although he has good inside, he is influenced by dark forces ("Depths of Hell"). Everything that he desires is denied, even his own death ("Slave to the Dark," "A Question of Heaven"). Along the way he is faced by such opposition as his demonic liaison Clown ("Violate"), child murderer Billy Kincaid ("Vengeance is Mine"), heavenly bounty hunter Angela ("The Hunter"), and Malebolgia, a prince of hell who owns his soul ("The Last Laugh").

Album information

The majority of the songs on the album feature a relatively short running time (under four minutes), with the final four tracks being of longer duration. The song structure is more simple and straightforward than on previous Iced Earth albums. Many fans note the improved vocal range of lead singer Matt Barlow, who had taken singing lessons after the release of Burnt Offerings. This is also the first Iced Earth album featuring drummer Mark Prator, and also the last album to feature bassist Dave Abell and guitarist Randall Shawver. There was also a limited edition digipak version in Europe, limited to 10,000 hand-numbered copies, that included a cover of "The Ripper" by Judas Priest as a bonus track. That track was originally recorded for the Judas Priest tribute album A Tribute to Judas Priest: Legends of Metal Vol. 2, and also later appears on the reissue of The Melancholy EP. The last three songs make up "The Suffering" trilogy.

While Dave Abell performed all the bass tracks, he ended up leaving not long after the album was finished and the album's artwork instead features then-bassist Keith Mensor on the back cover and booklet at Century Media's request. Mensor was hired as a touring replacement for Abell, but he was unable to learn the material for the upcoming tour so he was fired and soon replaced with James MacDonough.

Track listing

No. Title Lyrics Music Length
1. "Dark Saga"   Jon Schaffer Schaffer 3:43
2. "I Died for You"   Schaffer Schaffer 3:47
3. "Violate"   Schaffer Schaffer 3:38
4. "The Hunter"   Schaffer Schaffer 3:55
5. "The Last Laugh"   Matt Barlow Randall Shawver, Schaffer 3:47
6. "Depths of Hell"   Al Simmons Shawver, Schaffer 3:02
7. "Vengeance Is Mine"   Barlow Shawver, Schaffer 4:22
8. "The Suffering Scarred"   Schaffer Shawver, Schaffer 5:54
9. "Slave to the Dark"   Schaffer Schaffer 4:03
10. "A Question of Heaven"   Schaffer Schaffer 7:40 *

*Track length is 7:48 on the European Limited Edition

European Limited Digipak bonus track

No. Title Lyrics Music Length
11. "The Ripper" (originally by Judas Priest) Glenn Tipton Tipton 2:41

2008 Slave to the Dark bonus tracks

No. Title Lyrics Music Length
11. "Hellspawn" (mix 1) Schaffer Schaffer 3:42
12. "Hellspawn" (mix 2) Schaffer Schaffer 3:43


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