Iced Earth fans rejoice, the kings of power metal have returned! Iced Earth as we all know have gone through more members as Carmen Electra has boyfriends but the one thing that has been stable for a long time was vocalists. Until Matt Barlow left the band to be replaced by Tim Owens and then he would later rejoin the band, or so it seemed. Nobody should blame Barlow for leaving the band the way he did though. He left on his terms so that Iced Earth could tour more, and so that he could be with his family and children. He gave us many years worth of amazing power metal, what the hell else could we ask for? More Iced Earth, obviously. In steps Stu Block of Into Eternity. Big shoes to fill for one of the men I consider to be one of the best vocalists in modern metal. And so, Dystopia was formed.
From the very beginning of “Dystopia” (the song) with Block’s amazing scream and insanely high falsetto voc als, we should all know that somebody is about to fucking shred our minds to pieces. It is one of the heaviest riffs ever in an Iced Earth song, and easily the best scream (maybe the first) in an IE song. The heaviness doesn’t end their though, Jon Schaffer must have wanted to make a fucking heavy album because he as succeeded. “Anthem”, which is just that, a damn anthem, is another fucking heavy IE song into “Boiling Point”, it continues. Boiling Point contains some of the cleanest high notes we’ve ever heard Stu hit as well. The album continues on the heavy point until the closing track, “End of Innocence” is a slower, half acoustic, half electric, song. It really shows off Stu’s vocals. After hearing him scream and pierce eyes for an entire album, you get to hear him sing melodically and realize that he is the right fit for Iced Earth. As for the overall music on the album, it’s an Iced Earth album. Jon Schaffer loves the gallop riff and drums, and we all love hearing it. We do hear some innovation and changes in it on the album, but overall it’s the same IE sound we all know and love.
Let’s discuss why Iced Earth elitists won’t like the album. Stu Block sounds like Matt Barlow. Well, a real Iced Earth elitist would know that no matter how something sounds or what a singer is doing, Jon Schaffer has the final say in what the album sounds like and Stu shouldn’t be blamed. Hell there should be no fucking problem anyway. Stu sounds amazing, in some voices he sounds better than Barlow would at this point in his career. Would you rather have the Ripper back?
A solid output from Iced Earth, although it’s always hard with a new vocalist. Even one as dynamic as Stu Block is. What we do see is a band that has moved on and grown. This sounds more like classic Iced Earth than the past two albums have, which is what a lot of the fans wanted.