Rating:
7.5
Iced Earth - Dystopia
17 October 2011


01. Dystopia
02. Anthem
03. Boiling Point
04. Anguish Of Youth
05. V
06. Dark City
07. Equilibrium
08. Days Of Rage
09. End Of Innocence
10. Soylent Green [limited edition bonus]
11. Iron Will [limited edition bonus]
12. Tragedy And Triumph
13. Anthem [string mix version] [limited edition bonus]
14. The Mob Rules [Black Sabbath cover] [iTunes bonus]


It's been a bit of a rocky ride for Iced Earth in the last few years, especially after things looked so promising with Matt Barlow back in the band. The Crucible Of Man really didn't deliver what the line-up promised, and then another knock back with the news that Matt would be leaving the band once more.

After everything, Iced Earth stand strong here today with their latest offering and another lease of life and promise. Dystopia is Jon's tenth album but the limelight is firmly shining on new singer Stuart Block, who has seemingly breathed new life into this iconic American band. Stu sounds so comfortable in Barlow's position as he emulates the past singer's vocals almost perfectly. Not only this, but his versatility is unparalleled with his ability to scream just as well Tim Owens. Iced Earth have found the last piece of the jigsaw, and it didn't have to be cut to shape this time.

Dystopia is solid; nothing more, but nothing less. Typically Iced Earth, the album keeps to a steady mid-tempo with the odd ballad and galloping numbers thrown in too. Even though "Boiling Point" is a welcome injection of power, the album's somewhat steady start thankfully seems to wear off in the second half with songs like "Dark City" and the last song "Tragedy And Triumph" especially being pretty catchy. A much needed sledgehammer of a song "Days Of Rage" keeps the blood flowing too as it harks back to the crushing sound of "Violate" from The Dark Saga, even though it is only two minutes long.

This album keeps true to the original Iced Earth sound, but doesn't go beyond being just good. Dystopia is however, a promising sign for the band's future with an extremely talented and suited new singer in the ranks, and if "Tragedy And Triumph" was as much fun to write as it is to listen to, Jon and company must be pretty optimistic too. Dystopia is a confidence-boosting album that will be much appreciated and gladly received by anyone with an interest in this long-running and respectable band.

--

Heavy metal
U.S.A.
Length: 45:06
Century Media

Performance: 9
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 8
Production: 9


Band profile: Iced Earth
Album: Dystopia


 



Written on 15.10.2011 by
Baz Anderson
Member of Staff since 2006.
More reviews by Baz Anderson ››

Guest review by
AndMetalForAll

Rating:
8.0
For the second straight time Iced Earth saw themselves without a singer and so they had to look for a new one. In the beginning of 2011 the search was over and the choice was Stu Block (former Into Eternity). The expectation was enormous about the new singer. Iced Earth aren't exactly famous in choosing Matt Barlow's substitutes over the years after having as their singer Tim Owens, with technically amazing vocal capacities but without the heart Iced Earth fans truly love.

Read more ››
published 26.11.2011 | Comments (14)

Guest review by
Tristus Scriptor

Rating:
8.5
Once again, Jon Schaffer's vehicle of pure METAL does a dust-stirring figure-eight around all of our dizzied heads, screeching to a halt directly in front of us. I can't think of a time when a new Iced Earth release was a humdrum occasion. Be it Schaffer's knack for incessant line-up changes, anticipated concepts, re-recorded classics (both original and covered), and...MORE line-up changes; one cannot deny that curiosity almost always surrounds every release with the Iced Earth moniker. This one is no different. Come to think of it, for many reasons, Dystopia might just be the most significant case of raised eyebrows yet.

Read more ››
published 03.03.2012 | Comments (6)



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Risto - 15.10.2011 at 18:05  
"Tragedy and Triumph" The overall score matches my first impressions, but it still needs more listens.
Milena - 15.10.2011 at 18:11  
I find this release awesome and would have rated it higher myself, but I'm not an Iced Earth fan so I don't know how it compares to others
Angelic Storm - 15.10.2011 at 18:15  
I'd have personally rated the album 8.5, but still, this is a very well written review.
Angel_Lament - 15.10.2011 at 18:21  
A very-well written review...!
while I listened to it once, I gotta say its amazing, and imo, deserves a little higher score like 8.5, the new vocalist is really good, and the overall of the songs is above average, and some are great.
I guess its because I thought this would be a letdown album, and then was surprised by the income...
Edmund Fogg - 15.10.2011 at 18:44  
Good rewiew. I fear it's a bit optimistic since I lost hope after listenin to their previous release, but I'll still give them a chance with this one. I'm curious about the new singer.
Daniell - 15.10.2011 at 18:46  
I was thinking about reviewing this, and I'm glad I didn't. The review is great, and the rating is exactly as would give The album is solid, but doesn't shine. Two songs are very good: "Tragedy and Triumph" and "Dark City", with the latter being a huge, although successful, Iron Maiden ripoff.
Iced Earth always has 1 brilliant song on every album, that is far far ahead of anything else. For example, "Come What May", "The Clouding", "Damien". Sadly, there is no such song on "Dystopia".
Angelic Storm - 15.10.2011 at 18:58  
Written by Daniell on 15.10.2011 at 18:46
Iced Earth always has 1 brilliant song on every album, that is far far ahead of anything else. For example, "Come What May", "The Clouding", "Damien". Sadly, there is no such song on "Dystopia".


I personally think there are a few songs on "Framing Armageddon" that are equally as good as "The Clouding"... I feel similar about "Horror Show", though I pretty much love that whole album equally. "Come What May" though, is one of only 3 songs I liked from the last album, and is probably the best song on it. As for "Dystopia", "V" is the only song that comes close to being a filler, although there isn't anything on the album that rivals say "Travel In Stygian" or "Burnt Offerings" as being one of Iced Earth's very best songs. My overall thoughts on the album is that is huge improvement over the last album, and is very consistent the whole way through quality wise. It just lacks any truly mindblowing songs like the ones I just mentioned that would truly return the band back to their absolute best. It's a great album, just not quite a classic IMO.
SamuelSanchezAlvarez - 15.10.2011 at 19:09  
It's a good review. I would rate it a bit higher, but the review is very accurate. My favourite songs of the album are Anthem, Tragedy and Triumph, Dark City and Dystopia. Stu is a great singer, I wait that this is the beginning of a new great era for Iced Earth
kalmah999 - 15.10.2011 at 20:34  
Good review, I would give 8.5 in my opinion, but that's just my opinion, more than solid but not perfect
Opethian - 15.10.2011 at 20:42  
I forgot all about this. Nice review!
Valentin B - 15.10.2011 at 21:45  
I agree that all IE albums have one real stand-out track, i'd also add the self-titled track, Travel in Stygian, Dante, The Coming Curse and of course A Question of Heaven.

Imo this album also has one of those tracks, and it is the title track itself. It has the perfect combination of power, catchiness, and being generally epic, with the post-chorus vocal part sounding to me like a slight throwback to the insane epic "Travel In Stygian" from you know which album. Definitely the highlight of the album, and then to follow it up with such a good live anthem, is in my opinion a really nice way to start the album. It does let off though imo later, and some songs go a bit too far with the Maiden worship like Equilibrium, the last part of Dark City and Tragedy.
RavenKing - 15.10.2011 at 22:19  
Written by Valentin B on 15.10.2011 at 21:45

It does let off though imo later, and some songs go a bit too far with the Maiden worship like Equilibrium, the last part of Dark City and Tragedy.


It sounds a lot like Maiden here and there, indeed. But at least it's like the old, good Maiden and not the crappy stuff they have been releasing for over two decades now.
Angelic Storm - 16.10.2011 at 02:53  
Written by RavenKing on 15.10.2011 at 22:19
It sounds a lot like Maiden here and there, indeed. But at least it's like the old, good Maiden and not the crappy stuff they have been releasing for over two decades now.


I definitely agree that the Maiden-isms on the album sound great! Jon has always been influenced by Maiden, though I think "Dystopia" more than any of their other albums, displays that influence most strongly. Jon's trademark galloping riff style (which was ironically modelled on Steve Harris' bass playing style!) is in abundance all over the album. So it still feels very much like an Iced Earth album despite the overt Maiden influences in some songs. xD
Uldreth - 16.10.2011 at 18:22  
Color me impressed, a definite step up from TCoM and even Framing Armageddon, I'd say. I don't even mind the Maiden-esque parts, they fit well in here imo.
The only thing I regret is the lack of realyl angry and evil-sounding tracks that often appeared on their previous materials (Curse the Sky, Travel in Stygian, Burnt Offerings etc.). Well Days of Rage is relatively agressive but I don't like it, it just doesn't have anything else beyond agression, kind of like Violate, that is another song I never really understood why people like so much.

Still, a solid 8 I'd give to this album, standout tracks are Dark City and Equilibrium imo.
Risto - 17.10.2011 at 00:47  
Written by Uldreth on 16.10.2011 at 18:22

Well Days of Rage is relatively agressive but I don't like it, it just doesn't have anything else beyond agression, kind of like Violate, that is another song I never really understood why people like so much.

The two aggressive thrashers indeed sound kind of forced, I don't really like either of them. Violate is miles ahead compared to these because it's catchier and it's a perfect fit within the album.
Dark Cornatus - 17.10.2011 at 03:24  
I was listening to it earlier, i can't say too much stood out for me so far, besides Stu's vocals. I love them, but i agree that the albums need to be darker. Just look at how Stu handles Dante's Inferno! We need more of that aggressive style. Maybe next time haha.
DragonWisdom - 17.10.2011 at 16:06  
Written by Valentin B on 15.10.2011 at 21:45

I agree that all IE albums have one real stand-out track, i'd also add the self-titled track, Travel in Stygian, Dante, The Coming Curse and of course A Question of Heaven.

Imo this album also has one of those tracks, and it is the title track itself. It has the perfect combination of power, catchiness, and being generally epic, with the post-chorus vocal part sounding to me like a slight throwback to the insane epic "Travel In Stygian" from you know which album. Definitely the highlight of the album, and then to follow it up with such a good live anthem, is in my opinion a really nice way to start the album. It does let off though imo later, and some songs go a bit too far with the Maiden worship like Equilibrium, the last part of Dark City and Tragedy.


For me, I think the stand out track is Anguish of Youth, its catchy as all hell, the lyrical structure is very Iced Earth and the course is a fucking ANTHEM! I have given this disc at least 3 consecutive spins and I keep coming back to that track. As far as the review, I agree with everything said. Stu kills it on this one and its a great step forward for that band.
Hammer34 - 24.10.2011 at 20:21  
I largely agree with the review, though I would say Dystopia is more than just solid; it's quite good IMO. Glorious Burden through Crucible I think are mixed bags with some strong moments, though I agree "Come What May" is about the only major highlight on Crucible. Horror Show I like a lot, but I feel like it has a lot of cool and "impressive" tracks on it vs. any that are my go-to, favorite IE songs. That said, I think Dystopia is the most "complete" IE album, in terms of being an immediate, great listen from start to finish, since Something Wicked. I would agree there is no "Coming Curse" on Dystopia---that one, stand-out, mind-blowing track---but it's a pretty strong collection with no "skips" IMO.

I was a big skeptic about Stu Block, but he won me over on this album. There are spots where the emulation of Barlow sounds a little too deliberate, but that's perhaps an intentional emphasis on Schaffer's part to show Block will do justice to the Barlow catalogue/style. As for the high-end singing, I actually prefer what Block does here to Ripper, and I also like the bits of more extreme vocals that Block injects here and there.

In some of the speedy riffs and heavier parts, but in particular slower songs like "Anguish Of Youth" and "End of Innocence" I hear a bit of Demons & Wizards influence. And, yes there are some blatant "Maiden moments," in "Dark City" especially, but they're so obvious they have to be intentional "homages" by Schaffer.

All in all a great return to form IMO. And the introduction of a young, capable singer, who can do justice to the past and bring something new to the table, bodes well for the future.
CarlosCardoso - 25.10.2011 at 15:45  
Iced Earth return with the highly anticipated "Dystopia", a trip into a dystopian world of anguish and darkness, filled with heavy metal riffs and amazing vocals.

2008 marks the year of "The Crucible of Man". Almost 3 years later (and a lot of criticism directed towards Iced Earth), the band prepares to present to their fans a new and improved version of Iced Earth. "Dystopia" will be the 10th album from these American, Heavy-Metal playing and constantly changing group of very talented musicians.

Changes in the lineup of the band are something every Iced Earth fan has come to expect over the years. This time we get to welcome to the ranks Stu Block, better known for his work with Into Eternity (Progressive/Melo-Death band from Canada). It is obvious that we should expect some top notch vocals in this album when Stu and Jon Schaffer get to share the microphone.

Jon Schaffer has always been known to create very rich concepts for Iced Earth albums by tapping into literature and movies (who can forget 2001's "Horror Show"?). This time, however, Jon has decided to attack the theme of dystopia. If any of you have ever seen any movie, or read any book about dystopias, you know what to expect: a shitty world, full of oppression and censorship, countries with no civil rights, and possibly one or two cool heroes trying to save the world. That is what Jon tries to accomplish here. Take a look at the cover, a menacing monster, towering over a closed city, with people trying to escape while Zeppelins direct spotlights in their direction. Bad world, we get it, good cover. Take a look at the track list and you will almost instantly recognize some movies in there. "V", "Dark City" and "Equilibrium" are all famous movies that deal with a dystopian world.


Read the resto of my review at riff-mag: http://www.riff-mag.com/reviews/cd-reviews/4174-iced-earth
Dark Cornatus - 27.10.2011 at 05:06  
Written by DragonWisdom on 17.10.2011 at 16:06

Written by Valentin B on 15.10.2011 at 21:45

I agree that all IE albums have one real stand-out track, i'd also add the self-titled track, Travel in Stygian, Dante, The Coming Curse and of course A Question of Heaven.

Imo this album also has one of those tracks, and it is the title track itself. It has the perfect combination of power, catchiness, and being generally epic, with the post-chorus vocal part sounding to me like a slight throwback to the insane epic "Travel In Stygian" from you know which album. Definitely the highlight of the album, and then to follow it up with such a good live anthem, is in my opinion a really nice way to start the album. It does let off though imo later, and some songs go a bit too far with the Maiden worship like Equilibrium, the last part of Dark City and Tragedy.


For me, I think the stand out track is Anguish of Youth, its catchy as all hell, the lyrical structure is very Iced Earth and the course is a fucking ANTHEM! I have given this disc at least 3 consecutive spins and I keep coming back to that track. As far as the review, I agree with everything said. Stu kills it on this one and its a great step forward for that band.

I agree actually... i didn't think much the first time, but it is definitely one of the top 3 tracks. I think i like Dark City the best still, except for it's terrible chorus!
Dark Cornatus - 27.10.2011 at 05:32  
Written by Hammer34 on 24.10.2011 at 20:21

I largely agree with the review, though I would say Dystopia is more than just solid; it's quite good IMO. Glorious Burden through Crucible I think are mixed bags with some strong moments, though I agree "Come What May" is about the only major highlight on Crucible. Horror Show I like a lot, but I feel like it has a lot of cool and "impressive" tracks on it vs. any that are my go-to, favorite IE songs. That said, I think Dystopia is the most "complete" IE album, in terms of being an immediate, great listen from start to finish, since Something Wicked. I would agree there is no "Coming Curse" on Dystopia---that one, stand-out, mind-blowing track---but it's a pretty strong collection with no "skips" IMO.

I was a big skeptic about Stu Block, but he won me over on this album. There are spots where the emulation of Barlow sounds a little too deliberate, but that's perhaps an intentional emphasis on Schaffer's part to show Block will do justice to the Barlow catalogue/style. As for the high-end singing, I actually prefer what Block does here to Ripper, and I also like the bits of more extreme vocals that Block injects here and there.

In some of the speedy riffs and heavier parts, but in particular slower songs like "Anguish Of Youth" and "End of Innocence" I hear a bit of Demons & Wizards influence. And, yes there are some blatant "Maiden moments," in "Dark City" especially, but they're so obvious they have to be intentional "homages" by Schaffer.

All in all a great return to form IMO. And the introduction of a young, capable singer, who can do justice to the past and bring something new to the table, bodes well for the future.

It is a fairly solid album. But there are fillers for me. I find Days of Rage, End of Innocence and Soylent Green to be filler. The first is meant to be a heavy song, but it completely lacks balls and has a terrible repetitive chant. The second is just plain boring and sounds like Evergrey, probably the worst off the album for me. I don't like Stu on this song at all, moreso the 'progressive try hard' vocals that are so common in progressive bands. Soylent Green is an interesting song, i love the theme, but it is a pretty bland song with repetitive guitar riffs.

I find Dark City, Anguish of Youth and Tragedy and Triumph to probably be my three favourites off the album in order. The first two i would call stand outs on par with any other Iced Earth standouts.
Hammer34 - 28.10.2011 at 23:45  
Dark Cornatus . . . sounds like "End Of Innocence" strikes a real negative chord with you whereas I like it well enough. But you totally nailed it---first time I heard that track Evergrey came to mind immediately. There's definitely some Tom Englund in the bridge and chorus of that song and the way Block sings it.
Doc Godin - 26.11.2011 at 08:55  
Written by Milena on 15.10.2011 at 18:11

I find this release awesome and would have rated it higher myself, but I'm not an Iced Earth fan so I don't know how it compares to others

You and me both. A good chunk of it I think is Stu Block, he is a really versatile vocalist. I've always found Iced Earth sort of boring before this album. I liked The Glorious Burden when I first bought it when I was just getting into metal, but now I rarely listen to it. Aside from that I've never really been impressed by this band.

It's a bitter-sweet sort of thing. I really like Into Eternity and I would really like to see Stu stick with them, but I just have this feeling that he's going to leave them to dedicate more time to Iced Earth. On the other hand, he's performed really well here, and for me has sparked an interest in a band I don't normally care for. If what Barry says is true, and this is the only beginning, then I might start following this band more closely.
Milena - 26.11.2011 at 10:22  
Written by Doc Godin on 26.11.2011 at 08:55

You and me both. A good chunk of it I think is Stu Block, he is a really versatile vocalist. I've always found Iced Earth sort of boring before this album. I liked The Glorious Burden when I first bought it when I was just getting into metal, but now I rarely listen to it. Aside from that I've never really been impressed by this band.

It's a bitter-sweet sort of thing. I really like Into Eternity and I would really like to see Stu stick with them, but I just have this feeling that he's going to leave them to dedicate more time to Iced Earth. On the other hand, he's performed really well here, and for me has sparked an interest in a band I don't normally care for. If what Barry says is true, and this is the only beginning, then I might start following this band more closely.

Ohhhh, yes, I completely agree. Not that I didn't like Barlow or Ripper, but Stu is really awesome, and the story of his joining with this band gives me warm and fuzzy feelings for some reason - it's a real nice heavy metal story (if you watch any of the "Making of Dystopia" videos, you'll see what I mean). And he fits with the band so well. I missed a show of theirs a couple days back because of my health and my exams... hope I'll have more chances to catch them, they played two encores here and I think they really enjoyed themselves.

I think it might be better for his career to stay with the bigger band, at least for a while... Into Eternity is awesome, but God knows how many more good albums they had in them anyway.

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