ICED EARTH - Dystopia
October 6, 2011, 8 years ago
The recent carousel at vocalist has (unfortunately) led listeners, even some longtime ICED EARTH fans, to fall into one of three camps: those eagerly anticipating former INTO ETERNITY singer Stu Block’s introduction to the ranks, those viewing the whole situation with trepidation and some ambivalence. While there is some stretching of traditional Jon Schaffer constructions, this is true to the spirit of the band, a long way away from the Set Abominae storyline that has dominated the last two efforts. That said, of the ten tracks on the proper album (there will be an addition pair of bonus cuts, ‘Soylent Green’ and ‘Iron Will’, as well as some cover tunes for overseas and exclusive downloads), the opening title track and punky, Anthrax styled riffing of the closing ‘Tragedy And Triumph’ revert to the plot surrounding the band’s mascot. Schaffer has already hinted that ‘Dystopia’, with it’s military snare drum roll intro, leading to a piercing Block scream, is destined to kick off the forthcoming live dates. Otherwise, it’s a fast, classic Iced Earth composition, the new boy showing off his ability to tread the lines of both Tim “Ripper” Owens and Matt Barlow, yet make the song his own. ‘Anthem’ follows, beginning with lone, subdued acoustic, before becoming a mid-tempo, somewhat upbeat tune. Alongside the ‘Dystopia’, it is one of two videos already in the can.
In interviews, the founder/guitarist claims his new lease on the band led to a more positive attitude in a few of the songs. A near thrash intensity see ‘Boiling Point’, at a mere 2:46, race towards conclusion, Block shrieking the titular phrase in the Ripper stratosphere. While ‘Boiling Point’ is the name of a movie (as are several of these titles), it’s not directly linked to the Wesley Snipes film. More acoustic guitar throughout ‘Anguish Of Youth’, which relates the tale of a troubled girl who sees a dream that alters her life. Track number five is entitled ‘V’, which isn’t the Roman numeral, but rather the letter, as related to the movie ‘V For Vendetta’, a gritty voice from Stu on an otherwise uplifting (defeating tyranny) themed rocker. Lyrics also seem slightly motivated by Schaffer’s outside interest, Sons Of Liberty. Jangly guitar and naked Block voice introduce, ‘Dark City’ (also a film title), before the vehemence and melody transform it into a classic Iced Earth tune. ‘Equilibrium’ paints a panorama of Block’s vocal range, very tuneful overall. Aptly titled, ‘Days Of Rage’ returns the anger quotient, finished in just 2:17. More acoustic guitar on the FM single friendly ‘End Of Innocence’, a real shocker and maybe something that could open them to brighter (monetarily) pastures in a industry killing off its cash cows. More military cadence drumming to lead off the aforementioned Tragedy And Triumph’ finale, until that heretofore unheard picking comes across, punctuated by Blocks staccato delivery. It’s all built on an undeniably infectious beat.
Been a while since I was this jazzed about a full Iced Earth platter, even more about the live set pulling out some long absent gems (‘Angels Holocaust’, YES!).