When the Night Falls

When the Night Falls
   Тази статия е налична и на български.

   Disclaimer: I am biased. Iced Earth are one of my two most favorite bands for twelve years now. My other favorite band is Uriah Heep but they have not released good album for more than thirty years and I am actually scared to go to one of their concerts. With Iced Earth these problems do not exist. If I said that I had been waiting to see them in Bulgaria since I first heard them it would be a lie because in 99 I did not imagine that this was possible. However on 22.11.2011 they did play in Sofia!

   The support bands were Fury U.K. and White Wizzard. Both of them played uninteresting classic heavy metal. I do not mind when Judas Priest or Saxon release new albums with classic heavy metal but when young guys appear on the scene and they play music that has already been played it makes me sad especially when the guys in question are pretty good with their instruments. During their performance I felt like an Iron Maiden fan (as described by Henry Rollins) totally convinced that these guys are just blocking me from seeing Iced Earth and if they get off stage Iced Earth would appear at this very moment.

   The main band for the night kicked off the show with the first song from their new album as the old metal tradition demands. Dystopia is far better album than the previous one and I hope it will be the end of Jon Schaffer's attempts to create overly epic, two parts albums with each part about twenty percent longer than a regular album. In the end of the day if we take the best forty five minutes of the two previous albums we will get something on the level of Dystopia but for some reason there is one hour and a half of padding. However this is the past and the new album has normal length and nice songs. It is not Burnt Offerings or Dark Saga but it contains no disappointing compositions.

   The new front man Stu Block is a perfect fit for the band. I really like Tim Ripper both in Judas Priest (Jugulator is my second favorite Priest album after Painkiller) and Iced Earth but I have to admit that Matt Barlow's lower pitched vocals are better suited for the dark Iced Earth compositions than Tim's voice. Stu Block fits this dark style perfectly and often it is difficult to distinguish that it is not Matt who is singing. His stage presence and his contact with the audience are great.

   I do not have strong opinions about the guitarist Troy Seele and the bass player Freddie Vidales. I guess they are O.K. However I want to single out the drummer Brent Smedley. The guy plays in the last three albums but he is not on any regular albums before that. However he is the drummer that plays in the best live album ever Alive in Athens. Before this album I did not like listening to live recordings but when I heard it I was immediately convinced that live recordings can sound better than studio recordings. I believe the first thing that made strong impression on the younger me was the sound of the drums. For me Brent Smedley is part of the classic Iced Earth lineup just like Matt Barlow. I do not have much to say about Schaffer (the rhythm guitarist, composer and leader of the band but why do I need to explain that?!?). It is obvious that for me he is a genius despite my suspicion that if we ever talk about politics, history or economics we might get in a fight (to be exact he will probably kick my ass with ease).

   After the opening song a familiar interpretation of some part of Carmina Burana filled the speakers which meant that the concert would go on with my favorite Iced Earth's song – Angels Holocaust. Slave to the Dark, V, Stand Alone, Damien, Dark City, the Hunter and Anthem were the main meal on the menu.

   It was impossible skip a dose of American patriotism delivered through Declaration Day. Europeans and Bulgarians in particular enjoy mocking Americans for having short history because their country exists for merely 235 years. While it is true that Bulgarians had a state by the name of Bulgaria more than eleven centuries before the Americans we should not ignore their contributions. My little brother who is now old enough to teach me more things than I teach him recently told me an interesting fact. Do you know which the first modern democracy is? To my surprise it is not France. The French revolution happened after the American. Next time when you meet some wannabe Bulgarian patriot explaining how stupid the Americans are you can remind him that when Vasil Levski talks about "pure and sacred republic" he talks about the principles in the Declaration of Independence and the call "Give me Liberty or Give me Death!" was uttered for the first time by an American for this same independence.

   I liked the venue Yubileina Hall a lot. The sound was perfect and the promoters counted the real metalheads in Bulgaria precisely (about 500 real metalheads in Bulgaria) and the hall was full without being overcrowded. The only problem was that most people thought that the concert started at 19:00 while in reality this hour was announced for opening the doors.

   One of the greatest metal ballads ever – Watching Over Me was also a part of the setlist and I am happy that it was included instead of the slightly sloppy Melancholy which for some unexplicable reason is one of the most popular Iced Earth songs at least in the circles I move in. The final was the sixteen minute epic composition Dante's Inferno and the song that gave the band its name – Iced Earth.

   Stu announced that they are very pleased by the way the audience welcomed them and they will come back. I do not care if they say this on every concert. What I do care about is that they keep their promise and come back. He said that the fans are the reason the band exists and this includes the guys who downloaded the album illegally. I was eager to buy the album at the show but as it turned out the record label does not allow the band to sell the album on the road. After learning this I am perfectly happy to download it illegally. I did buy a t-shirt though and as the only other time I bought a band T-shirt this one also had a message that was more than the name of an album and a band. The message was – Stop Being a Pussy!

  Iced Earth's show was the perfect final for my concert year.
Tags:   english music 
Posted by:   Stilgar
00:52 25.11.2011


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