Heart of Steel: Concert Reviews


Friday, May 14, 2004
The Commodore Ballroom
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Review and live pictures by Lord of the Wasteland

This was going to be it…the show to end all shows, the ultimate metal bill. Between the three of them, Iced Earth, Children of Bodom and Evergrey combine power metal, thrash, melodic death and prog…all the metal any headbanger could want! Children of Bodom rolled through Vancouver back in December 2003 with Dimmu Borgir, Nevermore and Hypocrisy (read my review of the show here www.metal-rules.com/concerts/DB-NM-2003.htm), but this was the first time either Iced Earth or Evergrey had graced our fine city. Not only is Evergrey quickly becoming one of my favorite bands, but this was also the debut of former Judas Priest vocalist, Tim “Ripper” Owens, behind the mic for Iced Earth. Evergrey’s new CD, THE INNER CIRCLE, got a perfect 5 out 5 rating from me and Iced Earth’s latest opus, THE GLORIOUS BURDEN, got stellar marks, as well. On a warm Friday night, you could feel the energy hanging over The Commodore Ballroom as the hour neared.

Evergrey, the Swedish prog/power/goth quintet with the golden-voiced frontman, was up first. Tom S. Englund is a dark, looming figure with ass-length black hair and one of the most spectacular voices in metal. Dressed in a long, black jacket and leather pants, he is the true “man in black.” Evergrey’s heinously short, 40-minute set was laden with songs that covered three of their five albums (1998’s THE DARK DISCOVERY and 1999’s SOLITUDE DOMINANCE TRAGEDY didn’t get recognized) and the crowd was hungry for more. Opening with “Blinded” from 2003’s brilliant RECREATION DAY CD, the band played to the energetic crowd with Englund and Henrik Danhage trading off solos while bassist Mikael Hakansson and new drummer Jonas Ekdahl provided a beefy rhythm section. Danhage laid down a stunning solo on the title track from RECREATION DAY and “A Touch of Blessing” from THE INNER CIRCLE was one of the highlights. I was disappointed that “Solitude Within,” “I’m Sorry” and “Ambassador” weren’t played but 40 minutes is a tight window to cover and Evergrey filled it every second of it with a great performance. Englund said at the end of their set that Evergrey will be back next year. I’m hoping that will be as a headliner because this band deserves more than third billing and a shortened set.

End of Your Days
Rulers of the Mind
More Than Ever
Recreation Day
A Touch of Blessing
The Masterplan


A Children of Bodom show is always a lively one. Alexi “Wildchild” Laiho lives up to his nickname as he busts out dramatic guitar solos, posturing, stage rolling and overhead water-spitting with such 80s greatness, he deserves to be in a band called “Wyldboyz” or something. One lovely young lass showed her appreciation by repeatedly flashing her tits while crowd surfing. The band was all over the stage and played with great enthusiasm, though second guitarist Roope Latvala is a bit more subdued than the rest of them. Favorites like “Needled 24/7” and “Everytime I Die” are great songs to get a crowd worked up and they did just that. The band played the requisite 45-minute set and once again, fans were sorry to see them go so early, chanting “BODOM! BODOM! BODOM!” Keyboardist Janne Warman amazed me once again with the speed of his fingers, as he would introduce songs with nifty little passages and then play blindingly fast solos alongside the guitars. Laiho is a master of the frets himself, playing an impressive solo on “Angels Don’t Kill.” Children of Bodom are a great live act and even though they’ve got four studio albums under their collective belts, they are still only in their mid-to late-20s and have yet to hit their peak.

**Missed the first song**
Touch Like Angel of Death
Angels Don't Kill
Needled 24/7
Everytime I Die
Silent Night, Bodom Night
Hate Crew Deathroll



Even though they were the headlining act on the bill, Iced Earth had the most to prove. The band bailed on their 2002 Vancouver show with Jag Panzer and In Flames at the last minute, so some feathers were still ruffled from that. New vocalist Tim “Ripper” Owens replaced Matt Barlow, which caused some long-time fans to say Iced Earth was “done.” A cancellation of their spring European tour was forced due to IE rhythm guitarist/main man, Jon Schaffer’s, recurring back problems. To top it all off, the band’s new CD, THE GLORIOUS BURDEN, has been targeted (falsely, in my opinion) by many people as being jingoistic and “too American.” All of this negativity would be a buzz-killer for most bands, but Iced Earth soldiered on to prove their critics wrong and top off a killer metal show in Vancouver.

The first thing I noticed was that Ripper had a binder filled with laminated pages of the lyrics. They were hidden in front of a monitor and he would turn the pages with his foot as he went along. Is he still learning the songs? If you weren’t in the photographer’s section where I was, you’d be none the wiser, but I thought it was interesting anyway. Owens’ stage presence is filled with endless shadow boxing and head shaking, but otherwise the crowd banter was kept to a minimum. His voice is as amazing live as it is on record, too. Owens’ vocals on “Red Baron/Blue Max” were top notch and he let loose a scream during “Iced Earth” that he held for a good 20 seconds! Another came out during the third part of “Something Wicked This Way Comes.” In all honesty, Owens blows Barlow away! Barlow was an amazing vocalist and left his trademark sound on Iced Earth records since 1995, but Owens is a true master of his craft. Richard Christy is punishing on drums and his announcement that he would be leaving Iced Earth 3 days after this show was both shocking and disappointing (former Riot/Halford drummer, Bobby Jarzombek, is replacing him). Ralph Santolla and James MacDonough tend to be overshadowed in the band by the marquee names, but they are by no means token members. Santolla’s leads are sharp and precise while MacDonough keeps up a tight rhythm section with Christy. The spotlight is, of course, on Jon Schaffer. The band leader came out dressed in a bullet belt (yes, A BULLET BELT!!) and broke into the crunching sounds of “Declaration Day.” I thought there might be some backlash due to his recent comments about Canadians in BRAVE WORDS BLOODY KNUCKLES magazine but apparently all was forgiven. The crowd yelled out, “SCHAFFER!!” when he emerged and cheered on the band throughout their entire one hour and forty five minute set. “The Reckoning” was a curious omission since it was the lead-off single from THE GLORIOUS BURDEN and “When The Eagle Cries” was scratched off the setlist, as well. The show closed with the three-part “Something Wicked This Way Comes” trilogy and then for an encore, the band played a 35+ minute rendition of “Gettysburg,” complete with Schaffer and Santolla in blue and grey jackets signifying the North and South. Each had a guitar with the respective flag on it, too. The orchestra was, of course, recorded but all the bomb sounds and atmosphere created a stunning setting in the venue and a memorable finale. Someone appeared with a video camera from backstage at times, so this tour may be filming for a future DVD release??


Declaration Day
Burning Times
Vengeance is Mine
Angel's Holocaust
Red Baron/Blue Max
**When The Eagle Cries (NOT PLAYED)**
My Own Savior
Something Wicked This Way Comes trilogy
Gettysburg trilogy
Iced Earth

Despite the ill-fated attempt to meet up with fellow Metal Rules staffer, JP, I did speak with people at the show who said they saw him, one being fellow Vancouver-ite Tony from Metaleater.com. I interviewed (www.metal-rules.com/interviews/Evergrey-May2004.htm ) Tom from Evergrey a few weeks before the show and when I saw him hanging out at the merch booth during Iced Earth’s set, I had to say hi. He was really cool, remembered talking to me and gladly posed for a picture. JP, sorry you missed it…but we shall meet again!!

Tony from Metaleater.com with Tom from Evergrey Lord of the Wasteland from Metal-Rules.com with Tom from Evergrey

This is a bill that NO ONE should miss if it comes within a reasonable distance. Iced Earth is at the top of their game, Children of Bodom never fail to entertain and Evergrey is on the verge of breaking. A must see for any metal fan.

Thanks to Jon at SPV (www.spv.de) and George at Century Media Records (www.centurymedia.com) for the tickets & photo passes.

Iced Earth - www.icedearth.com

Children of Bodom - www.cobhc.com

Evergrey - www.evergrey.net