Oct 072011

Call me blasphemous, but I’ve never been a fan of Iced Earth. Not just them, but power metal bands in general, and it’s mainly because of the vocals. To be clear, this isn’t criticism, but simply a matter of taste. It just doesn’t taste good to me. However, I do get the attraction of the instrumental part of the music — the physical charge produced by the infusion of thrash and speed metal is undeniable. Given that attraction, I did make time to hear the title track from Iced Earth’s next album, Dystopia, when it premiered on REVOLVER’s web site yesterday.

Now, I’m sure that for many metalheads the vocals are part of the attraction to Iced Earth’s music, rather than an aspect that you have to tolerate as the price of feeding on the instrumental goodness. Iced Earth has run through a succession of vocalists, with Matt Barlow being the longest-tenured. But he’s gone now, and in March of this year the band named his replacement: Stu Block of Into Eternity.

Stu Block sounds very good on this new song, and the song itself is galvanizing. So, although I doubt I’m suddenly going to become an Iced Earth convert, I felt this was worth sharing. So, you might want to jump over to REVOLVER and hear the Soundcloud stream (which is only available there) or you can go past the jump in this post and hear it on a YouTube clip.

Dystopia is scheduled for release in Europe on October 17 and in the U.S. on October 18 via Century Media Records. Two bonus tracks are also being recording for inclusion on special editions of the album. Any Iced Earth fans out there?

  71 Responses to “ICED EARTH: “DYSTOPIA””

  1. I will be the first to stand up and say that I really dislike power metal. Like you it’s just a matter of taste.

    This song is really low-key for power metal and the cheese factor is low. It’s not bad and the vocals are not over the top. I could be persuaded to listen to more songs from this album.

  2. I have 2 Iced Earth albums that I like very much. Night of the Stormrider and Horror Show. I think if you listen to songs off of those albums, you’ll get why people enjoy Iced Earth a little bit more than this track. I don’t think this track is bad, but I don’t think it’s as good as other stuff. The music in this track is pretty good, although lacking a bit of drive. And Stu is no Barlow, but Barlow is kind of untouchable.

    –Check out Damien or Phantom Opera Ghost from Horror Show. (get some wine and crackers though, cuz there’s a lot of cheese)
    –Check out Angel’s Holocaust or Stormrider from NotSr

    I know that Burnt Offerings is one of Iced Earth’s most popular, but I unfortunately do not own it.

  3. Since this post is on power metal, there is a question that I have wanted to get the answer to for some time and it seems this post will give me the venue to ask it.

    Is Iron Maiden power metal?

    I know I will get reamed for saying this, but I can’t STAND Iron Maiden. I like the music, but Bruce Dickinson (dont’ get me wrong, he has an outstanding voice) just drives me insane with his wailing antics. I have always considered them power metal. I just want to know if anyone else does as well.

    • I don’t really consider them power metal. I’m sure they had a significant influence, but power metal to me is a little bit more cheesy and faster paced. Hammerfall, Rhapsody (of fire), Edguy, Symphony X, Helloween, Dragonforce. That’s all power metal. Iron Maiden has never sung about dragons, middle earth, or hobbits, as far as I’m aware, and there’s a lot less mindlessness in their music. So, I’m gonna say no, they’re not power metal.

    • I’ve always considered Iron Maiden traditional metal, and power metal is the bastard offspring of traditional metal.

      Though, now that I think about it, I couldn’t tell you how Iron Maiden ISN’T power metal…hmmm….

      I mostly got that from Wikipedia, which says that power metal is “is a style of heavy metal combining characteristics of traditional metal with speed metal, often within symphonic context.” I guess Iron Maiden isn’t really all that symphonic. Though I have no idea what the fuck symphonic means in this context.

    • I shouldn’t be allowed an opinion on this subject since I generally avoid power metal like I avoid poison oak, but I don’t think of Iron Maiden as power metal. There’s certainly some similarity in the vocal stylings, but I think Maiden’s music is more interesting and diverse and, yeah, not so welded to a speed-metal undercarriage.

      • I kinda figured I was on my own as this one. I guess I assumed that if a band had that wailing clean vocal style, they were “power metal”.

        Thanks for explaining the difference.

        • Its not really about the clean vocal style, its very much about the music…Rob Halford and King Diamond both have amazing voices, but neither band plays power metal.

          Found this and it seems as good a definition as any of what Power Metal is

          “Power Metal, in its usual form, consists of fast songs with an emphasis on melody, often accentuated with keyboards. Vocals are melodic and usually high-pitched, and the use of the double-bass drum kick is practically mandatory. As a style, Power Metal tends to use the guitar as a melodic, rather than a rhythm instrument, though there are exceptions. Lyrical themes are largely fantasy based and are often accused of being too ‘Happy’. The term ‘Flowercore’ is sometimes used (jokingly or not) to refer to those bands deemed too cheerful.”

          Power metal takes a lot of its ideas from Maiden, it just cranks them to 11

  4. I like some power metal. Actually, to be 100% honest, power metal was partly how I got into metal. I don’t really listen to much power metal these days, but I also like a good power metal kick every once in a while.

    That said…I don’t think I’ve heard more than one or two songs by Iced Earth. For me, the pinnacle was Sonata Arctica, but they went to absolute shit on Urnia (or whatever the fuck it was called) and I haven’t given them a chance since. (Seriously, it was absolutely appalling.)

    This song isn’t bad, but…it reminds me oddly of Jag Panzer, who I think is much better at being Jag Panzer than Ice Earth is. However…I am finding this song growing on me as it progresses.

    I also like…DragonForce. Yes, I know. It’s fucking DragonForce. Every criticism anyone has about them is pretty much true–except when people say they can’t do it live. I’ve seen them live. They played nearly a two hour set and sounded excellent the whole time. (Okay, Sam might have been a bit drunk.)

    All that said, the cheese in power metal is like the gore in grindcore. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Though I do think that grindcore does a better job of being silly and not taking itself too seriously. (I just realized how not true that so often is with political bands…but I guess I don’t listen to many political bands.) Power metal is fun like that crazy kid in your class that thought pirates were EXACTLY like the Disney movie and was totally, 100% convinced he/she would be a pirate like Johnny Depp one day. You can play with them for a while and have a good time, but eventually you get sick of playing pirates and pretending to be absolutely serious.

    Then you go find the freaky dude who is playing with fire and has a stash of his dad’s porno mags and liquor in his basement.

    • I had a difficult time reading your freaky-dude-in-the-basement analogy while looking at your icon.

      • I thought he was the freaky-pyro-dude-in-the-basement.

      • I’m the normal kid in class.

        Why would you think anything else???

        • I think your real life ‘fro identifies you as being anything but normal.

          • Speaking of ‘fro’s, when you getting corn rows put in your hair? I would pay money to see that.

            • Never.

              I used to do lots of tiny little braids in high school, though.

              I actually cut it back a few months ago before a job interview. I think I’m gonna finally have the opportunity to let it grow out again……..


          • It’s not my fault my hair has a mind of it’s own!!!

            I think it’s trying to kill me too…seriously…I’m scared to sleep at night…

            • Asphyxiation by hair. Hair imitating tentacle behavior. Sounds like you.

              • …….

                Okay, I admit it, I’m a distant relative to Medusa.

                Bitch done fucked up the family name with her turning people to stone shit.

                On the other hand, whenever I bleed, I get a free Pegasus. Glad I’m not a girl…

                • So is your would be vagoo.

                  • Oh, no, she knows I’d treat her right. I’d get scented lube and the finest period pads (“it’ll give you wiiiiiings!” …wait…wrong product) and only the best hypoallergenic latex dolphin vibrators would pass her lips.

                    • No tentacles?!?!?!?. I am severely disappointed in you.

                      Unless you specialized in female ejaculation. Cuz that would be awesome.

                  • holy shit. I’m away from these comments for about an hour, and they’ve gone right down into the pooper.

                    • You expected something different?

                    • To be brutally honest? No, I didn’t. But I do find it impossible to predict what kind of post will eventually lead the comments to go right off the rails. Unpredictability, however, is the spice of life. In addition to basil.

    • I’m not too much of a Dragonforce fan but I saw them live a few years ago and was impressed. They did this thing where the guitarists, bassist and key-tar dude all got in a circle and played the fret end of each other’s instruments (the musical ones), that blew me away.

  5. I too took the stepping stones of power metal in life, I still have a slight appreciation for some of it but to look back at some of the utter crap I allowed to grace my ears over the years, I can’t say I’m ashamed cos it all ultimately lead to extreme metal where I am firmly grounded and not moving from.
    I have however been wondering what Stu would sound like as the front man for IE, he’s a good replacement, but the song is OK, I’ll not be buying this though, much better music on the horizon to be getting my hands on!!

  6. Since Zombama broke the ice, I have a question I’ve been dying to pole you all with:

    (see what I did there?)

    King Diamond. Love him or hate him? I have to admit for me it’s both – I grew up on Mercyful Fate and some of his early KD stuff but sweet banana nut fudgy Christ in a waffle cone I CANNOT stand the high pitched screams people seem to love so much…from him, Maiden, Priest, Slayer or any of the so-called power metal bands. Oddly enough I can tolerate it slightly more from KD because I know his is a classically trained operatic falsetto and not just sissy wailing. I just don’t get the appeal. If I’m listening to something sick, brutal and dark the last thing I want to hear is some little girl going “WHEEEEEEEE!”. That’s what it sounds like to me.

  7. You guys are boring. Stop being boring.


  8. Since when has Iced Earth been considered power metal?

  9. First Immolation, now Iced Earth? You guys are making my day right now.

  10. Yes, Iced Earth is among my favorite bands. However, I am still on the fence about them regarding the revolving door of singers.

    Nothing against the other guys, but Matt Barlow is the right voice for the band. It sucks that Tim Owens had to face being replaced by the guy he replaced a second time (first with Judas Priest), especially coming in the middle of a two album cycle. One other thing I am not particularly fond of is re-recording songs. I don’t mind when a band does a song or two with a new singer, but Iced Earth has gone beyond that.

    I’ve heard the new studio recording of “Dante’s Inferno”, but I’m not completely thrilled with it. The version from Alive In Athens is the absolute best version of the song. No studio recording can match its sheer awesomeness, especially one with a new singer. It’s not that it’s a bad version, mind you. But the live version was so much better. The band is aiming to be able to play the song live again, which hasn’t been done since they were in Athens (if I remember correctly, that was also the first time they did the song live).

    No doubt, Stu is a great addition to the band. But like Tim Owens, he has some fucking huge shoes to fill and he can’t possibly match Barlow in every way. Even if he wasn’t the first voice of Iced Earth, Matt became the voice of Iced Earth and it’s not quite the same without him. Regardless, I might get Dystopia. Iced Earth still kicks ass, no matter who’s on the microphone. I really do hope they do well with Stu and that he manages to stay with the band for a long time. The revolving door lineup doesn’t help, but keeping the same singer around would be a great help.

  11. Iced Earth is a great band, although I don’t really listen to all of their albums. For me, you can’t get any better than the Something Wicked Trilogy (you can hear the whole thing here in one video), which is one of my favorite bits of metal ever. Matt Barlow’s voice is goddamn perfect on those tracks.

    Stu sounds good on this track, but he’s not Matt.

  12. Iced Earth, along with In Flames, was the gateway-band to metal for me. I’ve never seen them as a “power-metal”. To me a band is definately power metal when the vocalist sounds like he’s being squeezed from the balls 24/7 and that’s not Barlow.

    Iced Earth has always been just, well, Iced Earth. And to me Iced Earth equals Matt Barlow. I listen pretty strictly only to the songs with Barlow. Not that it would be my personal protest, but I just want my Iced Earth with Barlow. Having said that I’ll most likely pay next to zero attention to this album, as I have done with the most recent ones.

    Oh and if you’re a fan of IE, or just curious, and haven’t already seen this, it’s a must watch:

    The last gig with Barlow. In Wacken. And it’s fucking insane. I got so emotional watching this i’m not going to even go there.

    • I agree that Matt Barlow equals Iced Earth, but from what I’ve heard, Stu is closer to him than than he is to Tim Owens – not that The Ripper was a bad choice in singers. Listening to “Dystopia”, it sounds like the band’s gone for the best of both previous singers (at least in this song, haven’t heard anything else from the new album) and the transition from Matt to Stu shouldn’t be like the change from Matt to Tim was. As I said previously, the version of “Dante’s Inferno” from Alive In Athens is hard to beat and the new recording Iced Earth did doesn’t get the job done, it’s still a decent listen. I hope that when they do play the song live again, it makes its way online for comparison’s sake; it’s a song that is much, much better when done live.


      Yes, I’d rather have Matt Barlow on the mic. But with Stu Block, it appears that the band has learned from its past and not gone for a singer with a different kind of sound. That’s what made it hard for the Owens era; great singer, but didn’t quite sound the way I’d expect from Iced Earth. I’ve already pre-ordered Dystopia; the title track has already impressed me enough and I am more than willing to give it a fair shot.

      As for whether IE is power metal, that depends on how you define it. The American variety of power metal is closer to thrash than the majority of European power metal bands, but is far enough away from thrash to not be considered among their ranks. Maybe IE could be considered progressive thrash instead, which sounds a lot better than power thrash, a label I’ve seen used for Futures End (awesome band, btw).

    • I was there – I’m not the biggest Iced Earth fan, but that show was incredible. Especially after that awful Rhapsody of Fire set.

      Iced Earth have always sat on the “slightly less cheesy” side of power metal for me – along with Sabaton and a couple of others … Mezarkabul maybe. There’s a bit more oomph behind the riffs, a noticeable lack of tinkly keyboard. I heard Horror Show midway through “getting into metal” and that’s always been my favorite album.

  13. Big fan of IE, and enjoy Power Metal. This Dystopia album is NOT power metal. It is glam metal. Fresh from 1992. What a tragedy. Lazy and so full of cheese you could put it in the over and lice it 10 ways its pizza. Where did they go so wrong. I can’t in any honesty consider this is the same band as we’ve heard before. Is it overproduced, or did they just give up or sell out?

  14. Why are you retards calling Iced Earth power metal? They’re not power metal and they never have been. Go listen to Rhapsody of Fire or HammerFall and then tell me Iced Earth is power metal. They’re very obviously not. That’s the term people who can’t be bothered to check out the music use. People who look at artwork and assume. They don’t even have a song about a fucking dragon. Not one. Nor one about a wizard. Check your facts.

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