The reason for the album was to improve the original songs, create nostalgia for older fans and introduce newer fans to Iced Earth's older work. The 2-CD limited edition was originally produced for European audiences but has since been released in the United States. Days of Purgatory was the last new release from the band featuring longtime guitarist Randall Shawver, and the first to feature bassist James MacDonough and drummer Brent Smedley.
The song "Written on the Walls" from the band's self titled album was given completely new lyrics and renamed "Cast in Stone". The only songs left unrecorded from the band's first albums were "Mystical End", "The Path I Choose", and "Curse the Sky", though the latter two were both performed live with Barlow on vocals. "Winter Nights" was recorded during early sessions for Night of the Stormrider while Gene Adam was still on vocals, but this was the track which prompted Schaffer to ask Adam to get singing lessons, as it was felt he could not handle the high notes. Therefore, the song was not used on the album due to its acrimonious history, though it would have fit in with the storyline of the album. Live performances of this song from that era (such as Wuppertal '91) show him struggling to sing it, probably contributing to his dismissal. Schaffer eventually dug the song out of the vaults to use on this album with Barlow providing vocals, but, as mentioned in the album's booklet, used a 1986 Purgatory demo for the backing track instead.