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Out of the ashes of Iced Earth's past - 82%

hunter7, October 23rd, 2011

Out of the ashes of Iced Earth's past, came Dystopia. An album that lyrically deals with dystopian themes and yet being so optimistic for both life and heavy metal. Musically this album is a mixture of Iced Earth’s debut album and Dark Saga. Not a concept album though, but rather a theme album, paying tribute to dystopian movies and literature. After 3 average albums (Burden, Framing, Crucible) Jon returned with a vengeance capable of blowing away our hifi with the solid riffs of Dystopia. Solid like a concrete city.

The album opens with the self titled track referring once more to Set Abominae, but still can be 100% adapted to real life. The lyrics are bone crushing on this, so is the riffage. The chorus memorable, the solos short, fast and not boring. A heavy speed song that haunts your mind. An ideal album and concert opener. Stu dominates the composition, proving to be capable to erase the Matt/Owens era. Evil, venomous voice, can be easily transformed from deep Barlowish (Burnt Offerings) screams/growls, to super high, unreal pitches, even higher than Tim’s. The Dystopia song can be easily placed in Iced Earth's top 10 songs of all time. In my opinion it is by far the best metal song of 2011 (so far).

Next comes Anthem. Solid, mid tempo, with another memorable chorus and catchy melodies. Lyrics are great. The song can become a super hit, even for radio broadcast. So far so good. As I continue to listen I realize that time passes so joyable. All compositions are so direct, in your face, with riffs and melodies exchanging within seconds. Choruses in all songs are so sticky and even before you realize what happened, the CD stops. It's over, and you want to play it again, and again, and again. I still cannot believe my ears. In 2011 Jon (Block gets a lot of lyrics’ credits) can actually compose hymns like V, Dark City, Equilibrium. WOW!!! I love Dark City's intro. The speed metal songs Days Of Rage and Boiling Point reminds me of Violate and Disciples of The Lies. Unreal and energetic! Not innovative but head bangers like hell, and we need this. Last song is Triumph and Tragedy. A Maidenish super melodic fast song, very different from Iced Earth's standard style. Probably the best track of the album along with Dystopia track. Very interesting music style on this and enjoyable.

The question that raises is "where were you Jon since Horror Show?". Is this the best Iced Earth album? The answer is no, but at least it beats Something Wicked This way Comes. It beats the 3 last albums. It can compete with Horror Show and it can be easily placed next to Dark Saga, Burnt Offerings, Stormrider and Iced Earth. Block is credited more than Jon in lyrics’ writing and this is good news. The tracks have short melodic solos, meaning that guitarist Troy Steele is not just a guest but a full member. The rest of the band members seem to be tight as they have been touring and playing live for more than 3 years. Well, this is big news. Iced Earth has a stable line up for more than 3 years (Stu is the only addition, and a good one).

The album contains 2 ballads (Anguish of Youth and End of Innocence). I do not like ballads, and two in one album is quite a lot for my standards. Anguish of Youth is ok, mid tempo ballad. But End of Innocence seems to be a light pop/rock ballad, at least to my ears. Anyway, the limited digipack version includes 2 bonus tracks, Soylent Green and Iron Will which are very nice and interesting heavy tracks that can fill up the gap and make the album even more memorable. A different mix of Anthem is also included as a bonus with nice keyboards fillings in the background. In my opinion buy the limited digipack. Two cover songs are included in various versions of the album. Mob Rules (Black Sabbath) and The Trooper (Iron Maiden). Solid covers.

Jon is on the right track again. 2011, Iced Earth lives! Metal lives!