Iced Earth - Live In Ancient Kourion review


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Band: Iced Earth
Album: Live In Ancient Kourion
Release date: April 2013

Disc I
01. Intro
02. Dystopia
03. Burning Times
04. Angel's Holocaust
05. Slave To The Dark
06. V
07. When The Night Falls
08. I Died For You
09. Invasion
10. Motivation Of Man
11. Setian Massacre
12. Stormrider
13. Pure Evil
14. Wolf
15. Dark City
16. Dracula
17. Ten Thousand Strong

Disc II
01. Anthem
02. Declaration Day
03. Days Of Rage
04. Melancholy
05. Encore Intro
06. In Sacred Flames
07. Boiling Point
08. Damien
09. Watching Over Me
10. Dante's Inferno
11. Iced Earth
12. The Hunter

Iced Earth, by which I mean founder/guitarist Jon Schaffer and his ever-changing cadre of companions, has weathered a lot of instability over the years. Personnel rotate in and out like clockwork, and the revolving door that supplies the lineup has added another new member for each of the last three years. Perhaps the most noteworthy is the new vocalist, Into Eternity's Stu Block, who was thrust into the spotlight following Matt Barlow's second (and, evidently, final) departure from the band. Live In Ancient Kourion debuts the then-new lineup (quickly made obsolete in traditional Iced Earth style by Brent Smedley's departure afterwards) in spectacular fashion.

Every album from their self-titled debut to Dystopia is represented here, if you count the brief encore intro "In Sacred Flames" as representing The Crucible Of Man (Something Wicked - Part 2). Luke Appleton, Troy Seele, Brent Smedley, and Stu Block all had a lot of learning to do, but they play together very well, and aside from a few slightly uncomfortable-sounding solos, the band performs impressively. Live In Ancient Kourion serves to showcase Stu Block's vocals more than anything else, letting him break free from the shackles of studio recordings and setting him loose on Iced Earth's back catalogue. I was very vocal about my doubts once Stu's arrival was announced, and, unimpressed by Into Eternity, I questioned his ability to follow up Matt Barlow and Ripper Owens. Dystopia put me at ease with the decision. Live In Ancient Kourion has convinced me that Stu Block is the best singer Iced Earth has ever had.

Stu takes on every singer in the band's history and outshines them all. He has Matt Barlow's deep, emotional lows, with all the same power and force. He has Ripper Owens's soaring, majestic highs, and explores the height of his range with seemingly no effort. This is nearly a two-and-a-half-hour show, and yet he never fatigues, despite all the vocal acrobatics that are required of him in songs like "Declaration Day," "Ten Thousand Strong," and "Dracula." I never would have believed that anyone could sing Iced Earth better than Barlow, butů this live album has given me amazing faith in the talents of Stu Block. It has only been two years and one album with him, but he really seems at home fronting IE, and his performance is outstanding.

This live album is something you must own if you like Iced Earth. It is one of the best live albums I have ever heard, and is a testament to Stu Block's singing prowess. As a big fan of both Matt Barlow and Ripper Owens, it is difficult to say this, but Stu Block blows away anything you have ever heard from this band before.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 9
Originality: 8
Production: 8

Written by ScreamingSteelUS | 11.09.2013


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.


Comments: 4   Visited by: 71 users
12.09.2013 - 04:06
I completely agree.Stu was seemingly not welcomed too much as far as tenured Iced Earth fans but he has impressed me to no end and i also am in agreement he is their best vocalist to date. I was very excited for this show and it did not disappoint. I would give it a 9+ also.
13.09.2013 - 21:51
The Nothingth
Stu Block is exactly what Iced Earth needed.
11.10.2013 - 05:50
Damn, good like "ILOSAARIROCK" 2011 & Wacken 2011 with Barlow perhaps, then..... I must explore this absolutely, great thanks to MS for the great review and comments from Windir2010 & Zaphod!!!
04.12.2013 - 00:15
Awesome setlist. I saw them play with Symphony X last year & the band was flat out tearing it up.....& as ALWAYS, Stu Block kicked ass. The guy is amazing & I've seen him at least 4x at this point. I agree that he is exactly what this band needed because he's a road warrior like Schaffer is, so it seems to be a very good fit. Hopefully Jon will involve him as much as possible in future endeavors.

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