Iced Earth – Live in Ancient Kourion by Ben Spencer

Distributor/Label: Century Media

Band Line up:
Jon Schaffer: Ryhtmn & Lead guitar/vocals
Stu Block: Lead vocals
Brent Smedley: Drums
Troy Seele: Lead guitar
Luke Appleton: Bass guitar

Track listing:
1. Intro
2. Dystopia
3. Burning Times
4. Angel’s Holocaust
5. Slave to the Dark
6. V
7. When The Night Falls
8. I Died For You
9. Invasion / Motivation of Man
10. Setian Massacre
11. Stormrider
12. Pure Evil
13. Wolf
14. Dark City
15. Dracula
16. Ten Thousand Strong
17. Anthem
18. Declaration Day
19. Days of Rage
20. Melancholy
21. In Sacred Flames
22. Boiling Point
23. Damien
24. Watching Over Me
25. Dante’s Inferno
26. Iced Earth
27. The Hunter

Bonus Content:
28. Making of
29. World Tour
30. Photo Gallery.

Having played more tours since the release of their most recent record Dystopia, than ever before in their 20 year career, the band felt that this was like a beginning for them. In essence this became a period in time where Iced Earth are stronger than ever which sparked the interest of filming a live DVD of their extensive journey in the world of Metal. This became the foundation to what would lead them hosting the event at 6000 year old Kourion Theater, which historically had been used by both the Roman and Greek empires.

As the lights dim down and the chanting fans raise fits to the air, the concert blasts out in full force as the respective members of Iced Earth take up arms on stage and burst into their set with little deliberation.
‘Dystopia’ the self -titled song from their 2011 album revs up the guitars and bass as they pulverise through with on stage flame throwers blasting upward. The vocals pierce through the instrumentation with clarity and precision. The lung bellowing range found in the chorus reflects a sound of unity amidst its lead guitar energies with some solid backing vocals fortifying the overall sound.

The punchy adrenaline of ‘Burning Times’ carries the momentum forward with pounding drums and metallic riffs, which remain consistent throughout, as the high pitched wailing remain true to the power metal outfit that these guys fit into flawlessly.

The uplifting groove of ‘When The Night Falls’ plays out as an instant crowd pleaser with the venue screaming “Hey Hey Hey” back the band; fully loaded with technically proficient guitars, galloping drum work and an ever impressive vocal range. The band also display a well measured use of melody in its 8 minute journey, in which even the most demanding of metal heads would find it hard not to become pulled in by.

Personal stand out, ‘Storm Rider’ comes with a gritty thrash fuelled kick that showcases the band’s harsher sounding vitality. Full of exuberant guitar work and relentless drums, this powerhouse anthem is one that means business.

Meanwhile, the slow tempo behind ‘Melancholy’ gives the band a more sombre edge, with its heartfelt lyrics, emotive vocals and bass driven weightiness that slides back and forth locking the track firmly to the ground.

However, the beast like snarling sound of ‘Dante’s Inferno’ is without a doubt where the band shine most brightly; epic in scale and versatile scope. The song switches effortlessly between melodic delicacies and fret board wizardry as both guitarists have an on stage face-off flexing their musical craftsmanship.

Closing off with the crowd chanting back to the dream like opening of ’The Hunter’ the final song sways in slowly before converging into a bombardment of solid riffs and gruelling vocals and an ecstatic drum solo which signifies the departure Ice Earth to a mass applause from the packed out venue.

In terms of production, the visual clarity of the set was top notch as well as a wide range of various camera angles, revealing the full force of the band as they relentlessly shredded away at their guitars and kept a solid stage presence throughout. There was also plenty of shots of the fans being integrated into the set, making the experience that much more tangible to fans who weren’t at the show.

The only downside was an absent set list appearing on the screen when a new song begins, which unless you were an avid fan of the band, you may well struggle to follow. This being said the songs were impressive enough to make you find out this information out afterwards.

The package also comes complete with a ‘making of’ providing a further insight into viewers who want to learn more about the band off stage. This section features various commentaries from the band members themselves and their experience of Cyprus and how this led to the DVD being filmed in this location.

Final word, as the band themselves state there has never been a definitive DVD of the band playing live (festivals not included) so this is no doubt a must have for fans who have been following their musical prowess. The set is long, spanning across their entire discography and the bonus material adds extra value to the overall package, making this an essential purchase.

Even non fans or those who haven’t heard the band before should dedicate some time to this release as it may make them discover something they’ve been missing for the years. With Iced Earth making music of this calibre there really has been no better time to delve into their journey than right now.