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Iced Earth
Dystopia

Company: Century Media
Release: 2011
Genre: Power
Reviewer: Chaoslord

  • A solid release



  • I have to preface this review by saying that I am a huge Iced Earth fan. This has been the album I have been waiting for all year. As many fellow IE fans can sympathize, the second departure of Matt Barlow left me reeling a little bit. When "Dystopia" was announced for release and that Stu Block of Into Eternity would be handling vocal duties on the album, I was pretty psyched. I counted down the days until the release and went and bought the album as soon as it was released.

    I had heard the title track "Dystopia" already and was pretty stoked based on that. I have listened to the album about 10 times through now and feel that I can finally review this album fairly. "Dystopia" is another themed release from IE with the debut of vocalist Stu Block. Filling Barlow's shoes, in my eyes, was no easy task to tackle but Block has proven that he fits in with this band. His vocals on "Boiling Point", "Days of Rage" and "Dystopia" show off the nasty set of pipes he brings to the table. On the tracks "Anthem" and "Angst of Youth" he lets his clean vocals come through and really allows you to hear the emotion that he sings with.

    The background vocals again feature a choral ensemble similar to the last two releases. While a bit overdone for my taste with the usage of the choir, it does add an epic feel to the songs they are featured on. Founder John Schaeffer and second guitarist Troy Seele take care of the riffage and soloing duties. Schaeffer's trademark galloping riffs and somber acoustic tones appear throughout the album bringing a sense of familiarity to the album. The only problem I have with that is it feels as though some of the riffs have been rehashed from previous songs. Seele throws in a couple of great solos--listen to "Anthem" and "Equilibrium" for some face melting fun.

    Drummer Brent Smedley and bassist Freddy Vidales bring up the back end of the band and provide the remaining rhythm and filler for the songs. Smedley has proven his skills in his few stints with the band and tracks like "Days of Rage" and "V" show you just how much he has progressed in his skills since the "Something Wicked" days. Vidales is a solid bassist but it is very hard to pick out his riffs during the songs. Whether that's due to production or the fact that "Stucifer" is screaming like a banshee on most songs I'm not certain.

    Production wise, the album is pretty tight. I would like to hear the bass become a little more prevalent on future releases but other than that it is crisp and clean. Jim Morris has once again captured that trademark sound that belongs only to IE.

    The problem that I have with the album is that it feels a little too familiar. With the exception of Block, the music sounds the same and while the concept of a Dystopian society and sci-fi movies is a new realm for the band, lyrically and structurally the songs are typical of the past few albums. That being said, Block's vocals lend a new element to the band and I feel that it is a step in the right direction to start a new era for Iced Earth. "Days of Rage" is a track that brings back memories of "Violate", one of their heaviest songs to date. I hope to hear more of that sound in the future.

    All in all, "Dystopia" is a solid release. Any IE fan should pick it up and hopefully give it a good chance. The standard metal fan can pick it up without worrying about buying a piece of crap in plastic packaging. While the wait was worthwhile for me, it still leaves me feeling a bit empty and wanting just a little more. Maybe the next release will provide that but until then I will continue spinning this album heavily in my rotation. Go out and pick up your copy today and see if you are struck by "Dystopia".


    About this Writer:
    Greg Watson // Greg Watson has been hooked on the loud and heavy sounds since the summer of 1994 when he first heard the opening notes of "Operation: Mindcrime" by Queensryche. Since then his tastes have expanded and grown like the ever evolving heavy metal tree of genres. He has been an active member of Maximum Metal off and on for 10 years. In his spare time, Greg enjoys deciding the fate of his loyal subjects in the realm of Skyrim and secretly playing air keyboard to "Separate Ways" by Journey when no one is watching. He currently resides in Roanoke, VA with his wife and his metal wannabe beagle.

    Maximum Metal Rating Legend - Click for Full Details
    5 Excellent - Buy it and say a prayer to the metal gods that you were tuned on to this masterpiece. A classic.
    4-4.5 Great - Almost perfect records but there's probably a clunker or a lacking somewhere to keep it from perfection. You won't feel bad about dropping some bones on these.
    3.5 Good - Most of the record is good, but there may be some filler. This is the OK range where you'd search for the record on sale or used.
    3 Average - Some good songs, some bad ones at about a half/half ratio. Could show skills but be dull overall. Redeeming qualities for indy bands are effort and passion. Majors that don't try or suck outright end up here.
    2-2.5 Fair - Worth a listen, but best obtained by collectors. There is much better metal out there.
    1-1.5 Bad - Major problems with music, lyrics, production, etc.
    0 Terrible or an otherwise waste of your life and time.

    Note: Reviews are graded from 0-5, anything higher or not showing is from our old style. Scores, however, do not reveal the important features. The written review that accompanies the ratings is the best source of information regarding the music on our site. Reviewing is opinionated, not a qualitative science, so scores are personal to the reviewer and could reflect anything from being technically brilliant to gloriously cheesy fun.

    Demos and independent releases get some slack since the bands are often spent broke supporting themselves and trying to improve. Major releases usually have big financial backing, so they may be judged by a heavier hand. All scores can be eventually adjusted up or down by comparison of subsequent releases by the same band. We attempt to keep biases out of reviews and be advocates of the consumer without the undo influence of any band, label, management, promoter, etc.

    The best way to determine how much you may like certain music is to listen to it yourself.



    ALL FULL REVIEWS FOR: ICED EARTH
    CD
    TITLE BAND
    DOR
    REVIEWER DATE
    Days of PurgatoryIced Earth
    1997
    Frank Hill9/30/2003
    DystopiaIced Earth
    2011
    Greg Watson10/23/2011
    Festivals of the WickedIced Earth
    2011
    Greg Watson8/5/2011
    Framing ArmageddonIced Earth
    2007
    Etiam2/8/2008
    Gettysburg DVDIced Earth
    2005
    Ken Pierce6/9/2005
    Live In Ancient KourionIced Earth
    2013
    Eric Compton5/10/2013
    Plagues of BabylonIced Earth
    2014
    Greg Watson2/21/2014
    The Crucible of ManIced Earth
    2008
    Etiam2/8/2010
    The Crucible of ManIced Earth
    2008
    Raising Iron1/13/2009
    The Glorious BurdenIced Earth
    2004
    Ken Pierce6/16/2004
    The Glorious BurdenIced Earth
    2004
    Eric Compton1/21/2004
    The Glorious BurdenIced Earth
    2003
    Anthony Burke12/11/2003
    The Reckoning EPIced Earth
    2003
    Frank Hill11/21/2003


    ALL SUMMARY REVIEWS FOR: ICED EARTH
    TITLE BAND
    DOR
    REVIEWER DATE
    The Plagues EPIced Earth
    2013
    Greg Watson1/6/2014


    ALL INTERVIEWS FOR: ICED EARTH
    INTERVIEW BAND INTERVIEWER DATE
    Jon SchafferIced EarthGreg Watson2/7/2012
    Jon SchafferIced EarthKen Pierce9/14/2005
    Stu BlockIced EarthEric Compton and Greg Watson6/22/2017


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