I’ll be completely honest : I’m a big Iced Earth fan, but the main reason I got this on release date and not a couple of months after, when the price would drop, was the return of Brent Smedley (Oracle) on drums! That being said, I’m glad I did, because it definitely marks Iced Earth’s return to form!
Gone are the over-the-top orchestrations, long winded songs, interludes and general `blah`-ness of the Crucible albums. Welcome back machine gun E string riffs and speed/power thunders – we missed you! Coupled with the more mid tempo, chorus focused songs (which I don’t care too much about to be honest) aimed mostly at the European audience, you’ve got yourself the feel of an album that could very well have succeeded `Something wicked this way comes` back in the late 90’s.
A lot has been said about new vocalist Stu Block. Mostly that he sounds too much like Mat Barlow. Though that is partly true in the gritty mid range – melodic low range department, having seen this guy live I can safely say that he is a vocal powerhouse with unparalleled range, and a truly formidable addition to the band’s arsenal. To my ears he sounds like the product of a night of passion between Barlow, Ripper and Leather Leone, with a modern `gritty` tinge added for good measure. Freddy Vidales on bass and Troy Steele on guitar also deliver flawlessly, as is of course the legend Brent Smedley on drums.
Based on the album, and having seen their incredible live delivery on this tour, I can safely say that Iced Earth are back on track to regaining their 90’s glory. A solid album in the band’s catalogue that will please their fans. Check out the awesome video clip for `Dystopia` on youtube as well!