Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Review: Iced Earth - Dystopia

 Iced Earth, despite their rich history are a band that my knowledge of is limited, and really therre's no point in trying to discuss the course of their 27 year career now. All I can say is that there's an entire Wikipedia article devoted to past Iced Earth members. So in 2011, Iced Earth features newcomer Stu Block on vocals, Troy Steele and Jon Schaffer on guitars, Freddie Vidales on bass and Brent Smedley on drums, and on tenth release Dystopia, this lineup is pretty much revealed to be their strongest to date.

Dystopia packs a serious punch of what is essentially some classic heavy metal. It's complete with gripping and intense duelling guitars from Steele and Schaffer, who is still managing to sound impressively fresh and energetic in his six string thrashing. One might have thought that being the bands final original member might have tired him out somehow.
 The duelling guitars, pounding drumming from Smedley that has the ability to get a little structurally, seen best in Boiling Point and the wild metallic screeching of Block carries a reminiscence to fellow classic heavy metal acts like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Blind Guardian. Of course that's unsurprising, considering Tim Owens largew amount of time fronting the band, as well as their considerable amount of work with the German power metal quartet.
 More surprisingly is the sign that there is clearly something of a modern influence on Dystopia and I say this on hearing Days of Rage. On hearing the opening riffs of the song, anyone who knows their Trivium will clearly be able to identify that they are playing The Deceived in a higher key. It either serves as a homage to the kind of groups they have influenced, or perhaps Matt Heafy has the potential to file a lawsuit against them. Either way, it's quite unexpected to hear that riff elsewhere.
 On the whole, Iced Earth have managed to deliver a solid and impressive display of kick ass heavy metal on Dystopia. It's nothing new, but it's still overwhelming in its power and it's a clear display of a band with a sense of pride and triumph giving their all.

 Iced Earth's Dystopia is out now via Century Media. The band will tour the UK from the 4th-6th November with White Wizzard and Fury UK.

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