I’ve been waiting a long time for this. Needless to say, I’m a huge fan, and the disappointment over the last few albums was pretty much swept away by the news of Matt’s return. Playing Bloodstock was a real coup for its organisers, they are definitely getting more and more ambitious in terms of who they pull to perform.
With only an hour to play in the fading light and slight drizzle, the band wasn’t in the mood for talking. With barely a pause for breath, they kicked off with ‘The Dark Saga’ (a sentimental favourite of mine: the first ever Iced Earth song I’d ever heard), and then ‘Vengeance Is Mine’ from the same album. ‘Violate’ ended with a crowd-pleasing snippet from ‘The Trooper’! Matt’s singing was as refined and as good as I’d imagined it to be – this man does not rely on studio trickery to produce his amazingly resonant and emotional voice, with those spine-chilling high screams all from the throat of the man himself. He looks odd shorn of his famous mane of waist-length red hair, somewhat more frail and child-like that gave songs like ‘Melancholy (Holy Martyr)’ an added quality.
How did he fare with the Ripper Owens songs? To tell you the truth, he made them his own in the same way Ripper tried to make Barlow’s his own as well. Technically, although I believe that Barlow has the range, I don’t think he tried to match Owens at all. Belting out ‘Declaration Day’ and ‘Ten Thousand Strong’ (the best song off FRAMING ARMAGEDDON), I reckon Owens won’t be missed, unfortunately…
An awesome performance from Barlow, Schaffer and co.
Vengeance is Mine
Ten Thousand Strong
The Coming Curse
Melancholy (Holy Martyr)
My Own Saviour
This band does have the tendency to fall flat on stage at times, especially with Shagrath their singer alternating between good performances to lifeless and disinterested dress-rehearsal-like displays. This was one of their better shows, spiced up by some awesome pyros that was hot enough to singe the front row’s eyebrows and loud enough to perforate their eardrums!
The show stealer was probably ICS Vortex, their bassist, who stalked the stage like a man on a mission to kill and destroy. That is no hyperbole, he looked the part of pure evil, instead of a dude in makeup and spikes. He was in absolutely fine voice as well, and it’s always a pleasure to hear clean singing juxtaposed with extreme vocals. Galder is also always a joy to watch on stage (and from what I saw backstage, he’s quite a ladies’ man too!) moving constantly and flashing weird Uncle Fester smiles at the crowd.
They played a setlist of all their old favourites, with some songs off the new album IN SORTE DIABOLI that have become mainstays of their live shows and are rapidly reaching classic status. ‘Progenies of the Great Apocalypse’ and ‘Mourning Palace’ closed what was a very entertaining spectacle.
Spellbound (By the Devil)
In Death’s Embrace
The Serpentine Offering
The Chosen Legacy
The Sinister Awakening
The Maelstrom Mephisto
The Fundamental Alienation
A Succubus In Rapture
The Insight And The Catharsis
Progenies of the Great Apocalypse
Day 3 –>