Live In Ancient Kourion
5/10/2013 - Review by: Eric Compton
Jon Schaffer and company sound rejuvenated and recharged for "Live In Ancient Kourion". This was Schaffer's way of displaying his new singer Stu Block (Into Eternity) to the masses via CD, blu-ray, DVD, vinyl and digital downloading. In many ways Iced Earth have created some of the media magic that legends Iron Maiden use as their vital life force. Ten studio albums in nearly thirty years and box sets, EPS and three live releases seem to evidence the Tampa band as American icons albeit on a slightly smaller scale domestically.
The band chose Cyprus as the venue for this rousing display of traditional metal might. The Americans are near Beatles hysteria for the Greeks, clearly evident on the band's previous gigs in Athens and the monumental live recording in 1999 ("Alive In Athens"). This combo release shows us nearly three hours of video footage packed into a DVD and blu-ray release. The audio is two CDs at nearly two and a half hours. Century Media have made this available as a deluxe three disc set with DVD and two CDs for less than twenty bucks.
The Cyprus crowd are nuts for the rowdy stuff, "Pure Evil", "Angel's Holocaust", "When The Night Comes" and band moniker "Iced Earth" are clearly fan faves. Stu Block sounds very similar to Gene Adams and John Greely with those high notes and commanding control of falsetto on the older material. I think Stu does Barlow well, nailing the mid-register key on "The Hunter", "I Died For You" and "Burning Times". It's hard to duplicate the Tim Owens' material and songs like "Setian Massacre" and "Declaration Day" really sound odd with Block's rendition.
Schaffer's triplets are in full force and Brent Smedley shines on the drums (check out his tempo changes on "Dante's Inferno"). I think the overall production of the album is less processed than "Alive In Athens" and sounds a bit more authentic overall. I can hear a few hiccups in parts and occasionally Schaffer drowns his counterpart Troy Steele. Overall this is a great introduction for Block and it is interesting to hear the older material on its fifth generation of vocalists. Who's to speculate the longevity of Schaffer and Block but with the 2012 "Dystopia" record and now this tremendous live album...well it seems to be a good fit considering age, energy level and a band that can count twenty plus members in its history. If the shoe fits wear it.
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