Iced Earth

Amager Bio, Copenhagen - 2011

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

Last time we saw Iced Earth, it was the farewell concert for the mighty voice of Matthew Barlow.
This time it would be with a brand new album out, Dystopia, and a brand new singer in the ranks, Stuart ’Stu’ Block.

Being a big fan of the combination of Iced Earth and Barlow, and still clearly remembering the ’Ripper’-fail, I was not sure how to feel about this change at first, and after listening to a short sample of Into Eternity (the other band Block sings in, but something I had not heard before) I was sadly far from convinced that this wouldn’t be just another crash and burn for the band.
Then out came the re-recorded version of Dante’s Inferno, and even though there were certain parts from the original that I missed in the new one (the chanting mostly), it did prove one thing to me; Block’s vocals worked great with the music of Iced Earth, and he might be just what the band needed to carry on after Barlow’s departure. One thing remained unanswered though, could the man perform? On a late December evening at Amager Bio, we were about to find out...

Lots of people had shown up, but not so many that it felt crowded – had the concert been played at The Rock, which was the plan at first until that place went under, I’m sure it would have been sold out. Or close to it at the very least. With the way things were, and considering the fact that Amager Bio is a much larger place than the other, I was quite impressed with the amount of people who had shown up to show some love for the American heavy metal quintet.
After a quick check around the merch-booth, where among other memorabilia one could purchase the ”Stop being a pussy” poster which was heavily prominent in the studio diaries leading up to the release of the Dystopia album, we entered the actual concert hall and one of the first things I noticed was the Guy Fawkes mask mounted on the drum-kit; the mask was in the V For Vendetta style, matching with the song V from Iced Earth’s latest album. The song was played during the night, but there was no more action taken to put notice on the mask.
Not that it was needed though, after the 1776 song which was used as an intro for the concert had rung out the band quickly entered the stage to loud cheers from the audience and immediately became the centre of attention. I could clearly remember that bassist Freddie Vidales was a wildman on stage from the bands last visit to Copenhagen (I could also remember having a discussion with him after the show about whether the audience or the band was most thankful for the concert) and he didn’t disappoint this night either, Jon Schaffer stood on the far side of the stage from me but still had enough of a presence to fill the room, and drummer Brent Smedley did a fine job behind the kit as well.
Only two left now... Lead guitarist Troy Seele was actually a bit disappointing to watch; he was good at his instrument for sure, but when it came to performing he was definitely the most anonymous of the bunch. A smile did slip out here and there, but other than that there wasn’t much of his persona to be seen sadly.
Stu Block on the other hand. Wow! The man just walked in from the side of the stage and looked like he had been in the band forever; his joy and confidence shone brighter than the stage-lights, his moves were in perfect sync with the music, and that voice! Let’s just put it like this, any doubts and fears I might have harboured about this were washed away in the blink of an eye, and the rest of the show was spent grinning like a fool in heavy metal heaven...

”Copenhagen, you’re a fucking metal crowd!”
- Stu Block (vocals)


I don’t believe I was the only one either; we may not have filled the entire hall in numbers, but we did our best to fill it with our voices and our enthusiasm. Fair enough, this wasn’t the young mosh-till-we-drop crowd, but more of a put-your-fist-in-the-air and shout kind of crowd, which certainly worked better with the type of music we were being presented to.
It’s hard to say which was the crowd-favourite of the songs as there was constant shouting and singing along; out of the five new songs I’d say Dystopia and Anthem got the loudest cheers, and my personal favourite of the evening was definitely Damien, I simply couldn’t believe my luck when I heard them beginning to play that one!
There was another though, which also garnered a lot of love from the Danish crowd, and that was the old classic Watching Over Me – this song is always a popular sing-along song, but tonight it was made extra special as Iced Earth brought in a guest vocalist on stage to help out with the song. This guest was no one less than Michael Poulsen of Volbeat fame, and his appearance clearly excited his native audience. He also did a pretty good job on the vocals, even though the two bands styles aren’t exactly compatible...
After this there was a short break for the band to take a breather and when they came back for the encore it was time for the new version of Dante’s Inferno to b played. You know how I mentioned this wasn’t a moshing crowd? Strike that – this more than quarter of an hour long monster of a song was all about action and blowing off steam! If this didn’t wake the Gods, I don’t know what will...
The show was then finished off in classic manner with the song Iced Earth, and even on such old material Block blew us away with his competent voice.

Yes, if you hadn’t guessed it by now, Metalmoments and I definitely support Iced Earth’s choice in new vocalist, and hope for a long-standing relationship between the two parties. Block’s voice was at the very least on par with Barlow (whom I had never thought could be outdone in this band), and his performance was, I must admit, even better than that of the former vocalist, and his wasn’t even bad to begin with!

Setlist:

1776
Dystopia
Burning Times
Angels Holocaust
Slave To The Dark
V
Stand Alone
When The Night Falls
Damien
Dark City
The Hunter
Anthem
Declaration Day
Days Of Rage
Watching Over Me
Dante’s Inferno
Iced Earth

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