Iced Earth - Dystopia
Century Media, October 2011
I’ve never been a huge Iced Earth fan so it’s a little difficult for me to place Dystopia in the context of the band’s large catalog, and their latest album does little to change my view that the band generally is above average yet fleetingly brilliant. Following a brief reunion with original vocalist Matt Barlow, Jon Schaffer and company have recruited Into Eternity screamer Stu Block. Stu drops his death growl to banshee wail range featured in Into Eternity to adopt a traditional style similar to Matt Barlow. It’s an interesting transformation that gives me increased admiration for Stu’s skills. Aside from that surprise, Dystopia offers little different from what can be regarded as a typical Iced Earth power metal album. The songs generally alternate between fast, galloping riffs and solid, fist-pumping romps. Everything is executed to perfection and there is little with which to find fault except that one feels like you’ve heard this all before. There’s really two ways to look at this. If you’re an Iced Earth fan and value consistency, Dystopia is a guaranteed winner. On the other hand, if you were hoping for boundaries to be pushed and limits tested with the wide-ranging vocal abilities of Stu, then you’re bound to be a bit disappointed. “Days Of Rage” is probably the exception to this, but it’s not enough. Count me in as disappointed. Dystopia is not a bad album by any stretch of the imagination, but rather imagination and creativity seem to be what’s missing.
Iced Earth will perform tonight, Tuesday, June 26 at Myth in St. Paul in support of Volbeat with Hellyeah.