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Iced Earth/ Symphony X/ Warbringer

Date: 2/2/12
Venue: Starland Ballroom, Sayreville, New Jersey
Reviewed By: Rich Catino



So Warbringer seem to be benefitting from heavily hitting the touring circuit, this the third time I’ve seen them (opening for Overkill, Kreator/Exodus) in the past couple years. Their latest album “Worlds Torn Asunder” is a solid progression from the second album “Waking Into Nightmares”, with a style combining elements of Testament, Kreator, Slayer, and the like with the more screamed vocal that’s heard in today’s harsher faster metal. Curious to see if the next album stays with that vocal style or gets a little more melodic (which would be good).

Symphony X are more than confident their new album “Iconoclast” is good (and it is) including from it seven songs for this American tour. Seven is a bit many since only ‘Of Sins and Shadows’ from “The Divine Wings Of Tragedy” represented older albums before the success of “The Odyssey” (‘Inferno’ is a usual staple), with ‘Eve Of Seduction’, ‘Set The World On Fire’, and ‘Serpent’s Kiss’ off 2007’s “Paradise Lost”.

Mike Romeo and Michael Pinnella’s dueling neoclassical guitar and keyboard leads are the dominating elements to Symphony X’s aggressive progressive music brought to life by Russell Allen’s strong beefy, yet very melodic vocal (think Ronnie Dio), and the tight driving rhythm section of Jason Rullo on drums and Mike Lepond on bass. Usually when I see the guys they sound great, unfortunately tonight guitar and keyboards got lost in the mix, everything was too loud and came across a bit fuzzy. Regardless, it was a strong song selection leaning heavier on the metal than the proggy tendencies band’s like Symphony X (and they have that side as well) are known for. Next time I’d like to hear more songs pre-“Odyssey”.

Iced Earth return yet again with a new voice (4th, hopefully last) behind the mic, Stu Block, replacing what is the classic loved voice of Matt Barlow (who left the band, then returned for a brief time) from what is Iced Earth’s classic period, “Burnt Offerings” through “Horror Show”. Lead by founding member guitarist John Schaffer, Iced Earth are on the road supporting their latest album “Dystopia”, playing the title cut, ‘V’, ‘Dark City’, and ‘Anthem’, and ‘Days Of Rage’.

Now I have seen Iced Earth several times and John is usually always vocal and interactive with his fans, but tonight something happened that lead to the band going on later than planned, and understandably John looked pissed, just doing his job playing riffs and singing backing vocals, removed from his band and crowd. And as a result they had to cut the epic ‘Dante’s Inferno’…(damn!) replaced with the ‘Burning Times’ and ‘The Hunter’ which I had no complains about, both classics. Stu is a beast of a singer and frontman, a great combination for the most part of Matt’s low end dark tone and Tim Owens (he sang on two albums) high screams and when he lets it rip, Stu lets it rip (see ‘Stand alone’, ‘Angel’s Holocaust’, ‘Burning Times’). Also, Stu’s way of annunciating and projecting words is probably better than both Matt and Tim and it clearly comes through on the brilliant ‘Damien’ from “Horror Show”. I’d really like to see Iced Earth do that album in its entirety, Stu could really bring those songs about Frankenstein, Dracula, the Mummy, Phantom of the Opera to life. It was also nice to see the return of ‘When The Night Falls’ to the setlist.

Iced Earth setlist:
Angel's Holocaust
Slave to the Dark
Stand Alone
When the Night Falls
Dark City
Declaration Day
Days of Rage
Watching Over Me
The Hunter
Burning Times
Iced Earth

Symphony X:
End of Innocence
Bastards of the Machine
When All is Lost
Electric Messiah
Children of a Faceless God
Of Sins and Shadows
Eve of Seduction
Serpent's Kiss
Set the World on Fire

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