Live Albums can be a blessing or a curse. Whether as a stop gap between studio sessions or as a contractual obligation; Musical history is littered with releases that have fallen flat on their faces. Iced Earth have already released a classic opus with the stellar Alive In Athens” and the question is – Does the metal world need a new lced Earth live record?
Recorded in Cyprus, before recent financial turmoil engulfed her people, “Iced Earth: Live in Ancient Kourion” captures Iced Earth at the top of their game. A double disc set packed with almost 150 minutes of the band performing in a sweltering 6,000-year-old amphitheatre in front of a rabid gathering of metal heads.
Having had the privilege to see them in Dublin during this tour, I knew what to expect. “Dystopia” was one of the most accomplished albums in their career and introduced us to new vocalist, Stu Block alongside Troy Seele (lead guitar), Brent Smedley (drums), Luke Appleton (bass) and the ever present riff demon Jon Schaffer.
From the opening chants of “Iced Motherfucking Earth”, the passion and fervour of those in attendance is astounding. You can feel their hunger for live heavy metal. A hunger that is sated from Block’s opening scream as Iced Earth rip into “Dystopia” and proceed to deliver an aural assault of power thrash anthems. Stu Block’s interpretation of stonewall classics is quite remarkable. He has the pain and power that made Barlow such a memorable singer but on the other hand his high octave wails stand toe to toe with Owens. It is this amazing vocal range that makes him the most perfect fit as the frontman of such a legendary band.
“Come on Cyprus let’s get fucking crazy” beckons Shaffer as he assumes vocal duties on a crushing “Stormrider”. The audience accompaniment on “Angel’s Holocaust” and “Melancholy” is quite breath-taking. The setlist, picked from all the different Iced Eras, features the sensational “Wolf”, the magnificent “I Died For You”, an unforgettable “Declaration Day”, the epic glory of “Dante’s Inferno” and a blistering encore of “Iced Earth” followed by “The Hunter”. The production and mastering throughout is polished and enhances the onstage sound to almost studio-like perfection.
On “Live in Ancient Kourion”, Iced Earth confirm once again that they are one of the best live metal acts on the planet. With so much power and precision in their performance they have evolved and risen to the challenge of modern day mediocrity; Thereby ensuring that this compendium of tracks is the document of a band in its ascendency.
So, to address my original question: Does the metal world need a new lced Earth live record? Hell Fucking Yes!!
Release Date : 15th April
Slave To The Dark
When The Night Falls
I Died For You
Motivation Of Man
Ten Thousand Strong
Days Of Rage
In Sacred Flames
Watching Over Me