Iced Earth Live in Hollywood

By Tokemaster General, Contributor
Monday, June 21, 2004 @ 10:58 PM

Iced Earth Live at the House o

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REVIEW BY: Venom18

Back in my early teens, I remember flipping through the pages of the comics magazine Wizard, and coming across a pretty cool looking ad that caught my attention, primarily because of the appearance of one of my favorite super-heroes “Spawn.” The ad was for an album by a band called Iced Earth, and the album it was promoting was The Dark Saga.

I didn’t go out and buy the album, mainly because I was a poor sap back then and couldn’t afford that many albums when I was 14, but the ad really stuck with me throughout the years. Flash forward a couple of years, and me in Amoeba Music in Hollywood, where I pick up Iced Earth’s live album Alive in Athens.

My Reaction? “FUUUCK!!!” As soon as I heard songs like “Burning Times,” “Iced Earth” and “Stormrider,” I let my Metallica albums gather dust and embraced this band with a passion. Being a guitar player, I also really appreciated the kick-ass guitar work of Jon Schaffer, who has one of the meanest right hands in all of heavy metal, as well as some of the best craftsmanship in songwriting. I loved the band dearly, but always felt there was something missing in the band… vocals. I know I’m gonna piss off a lot of other Iced Earth fans, but in my humble opinion, I never thought Matthew Barlow had the right sound for this band. I don’t take anything away from the guy, and I dearly appreciate what he’s done for the band, but vocal-wise I never thought he enhanced Schaffer’s awesome music. Enter Ripper…

When the news broke that Ripper Owens had joined Iced Earth, I was extremely curious as to how different the band would sound. I had heard Ripper with Judas priest and thought he was okay -- I deemed him a fair singer. When I got The Glorious Burden, I was floored -- This is most likely their greatest album to date, and Ripper gives such an awesome performance on the album that it seemed that Rip was the singer they were waiting on all along.

As soon as I found out they were playing the House of Blues @ Sunset, I immediately bought tickets for myself, my bro and my best friend, and waited ‘til the day. On Thursday May 20th, we arrived at the House of Blues to see a line that had already formed around the corner, and to have the show start two hours later than planned. The doors were supposed to open at 6:30, but were re-scheduled to 8:30 due to the band’s bus breaking down en route to the venue. No worries though, as the band’s bus strolled around the corner at 7:30 to a massive cheer from the line.

Once the doors opened, I was hoping to snag a spot on the front row, but by the time we had gotten in the floor was already PACKED. So we said “Fuck it” and went to the top left balcony to watch. Before we even got to the stairs to the second floor, Evergrey was on stage, starting their set. I had never heard of this band before, but reading reviews from other shows on the tour, it seemed they were getting pretty good reactions from the crowds. Sure enough, they were great. Some nice guitar work, heavy and melodic. Having seen my fair share of crappy opening acts, I must say I rather enjoyed Evergrey, and started the night off quite well.

Children Of Bodom were next. Just minutes after Evergrey finished, there were already chants of “Bodom! Bodom!” It wasn’t surprising, as it almost seemed like half the people there went just to see them. Bodom came on stage and the floor erupted like mad. Musically they were very tight, cranking out their tunes like “Silent Night Bodom Night” and “Needed 24/7,” in which during the latter, Ralph Santolla came out on stage wearing plastic devil horns and did a jig, to the band’s amusement. Bodom finished their 40 min. set with the members of Evergrey coming out and oozing liquor down their throats. (Just in case anybody cares, when we were waiting to get inside, the guys of Bodom walked right through the line, and had a couple of their fans in the line come up to them asking for autographs. The main Bodom guy Alexi just looked at them,s poke some Finnish language to the tune of “Fuck off” and walked past them, pissing them off. Bodom Fan: “Fuck him…” Pretty fucked up way to appreciate fans if you ask me.)

After Children of Bodom finished two cool things happened that I will never forget. While we waited for Iced Earth, they scrolled down a projector screen in front of the stage curtains and showed videos from upcoming shows at the venue. An X-cutioners video featuring the Douchebag from Stinkin’ Park popped up, and the WHOLE crowd, floor, sides and balcony erupted in “YOU SUCK!!!YOU SUCK!!!” It was the most kick-ass feeling to know I wasn’t alone in despising that horrible boy-band crop of butt-pirates pretending to be a Metal Band. The other thing was that Iron Maiden was played through the P.A., and EVERYONE sang along to every word. Everything from “Wasted Years” to “Stranger in a Strange Land” to “Aces High,” which even created a mosh-pit.

Suddenly the projector screen rolled up and the “Star Spangled Banner” rang out through the P.A., beginning one of the most amazing shows I’ve ever been to. Ralph and James came out first, and then Schaffer walked out to a huge ovation. “Declaration Day” began, and Ripper Owens walked out as well, also to big response from the crowd. After “Declaration Day,” they went straight into “Burning Times,” “Vengeance Is Mine” and then into “Violate.”

To say Ripper was impressive would be an understatement. All the songs made a quantum leap with Ripper on vocals -- he handled everything so amazingly well. “Melancholy”was next, and had everyone singing to every word. After that they went into “Greenface,” which Schaffer said was written about a friend of his who was a Navy Seal. After “Greenface,” they went straight into one of my favorites from The Glorious Burden, “Red Baron.” I lost my voice trying to sing along to the high-pitched chorus.

“Angels Holocaust” was next, which was very cool but had no “Stormrider” afterwards, which was kind of a let-down but is probably being saved for the second leg. “Dracula” came up next, and then “My Own Savior.” Before “My Own Savior,” a fan threw a banner he made to the stage, which Ripper showed the audience, bearing a mock-up of the Horror Show cover with the words “Hollywood House of Horrors.” Ripper thanked him and said that “Jon cuddles up with these at night.”

Then came the “Something Wicked” trilogy. “Prophecy” capped it off, and sounded cool as fuck, after which the “Clock Intro” rang out through the PA and began “Birth of the Wicked.” After “Birth,” the piano intro to “The Coming Curse” began. This trilogy was the best I’ve ever heard it before -- Ripper really wailed, and Ralph played all the leads flawlessly while at the same time adding his own touch to them.

After the trilogy ended, the band exited the stage. The crew then started to set up an American Flag scrim on the right side of the stage, and a Confederate Flag Scrim on the left. After a couple of minutes, the band came back -- Ralph clad in a Yankee jacket and Jon in a Rebel, and began the “Gettysburg (1863)” trilogy. I was really looking forward to see the band play this, as the trilogy really hits me deep -- It’s such a beautiful piece of music, very theatrical and impressively composed. The acoustic intro of “The Devil to Pay” rang out, and they began one of Schaffer’s greatest compositions. Jon and Ralph played Gibson Les Pauls with a Confederate-flag finish on Jon’s, and an American Flag on Ralph’s.

The band did a good job of playing to the sampled orchestra and string sections of the trilogy, and played through the whole thing without a hitch. “Hold at All Costs” and “High Water Mar” had everyone singing to every single lyric, and there were some good pit action during the heavier parts.

The trilogy done, the band went into their namesake “Iced Earth.” This version with Ripper is infamous for having him belt out a 40 second high pitched wail after the middle-eight of the song. Ripper really showed off his awesome vocal talent, and the wail seemed to last forever, and was very impressive as he sustained the note on and on. After the song, as the band walked up to the front to bow, two fans threw them two Civil War-era hats with the Iced Earth logo engraved on them. Jon and Ralph each caught one, and Ralph even wore it as he bowed to the crowd.

Iced Earth walked off the stage. Man… what a fucking awesome show. Truly amazing performance -- I can’t even begin to explain the feeling I had when the show was done. This was truly one of the best shows I’ll ever see in my life. With Ripper in tow, Iced Earth can only go up -- I truly believe they are at their best line-up right now. Unfortunately as some of you know, Richard Christy left the band after this show to be on Howard Stern. It’s a Shame because he’s an awesome talent. Nice guy, too. Richard gave a little kid in front row a drum skin signed by the band and a pair of drumsticks.

If Iced Earth shows up at your town, by all means GO! You will NOT be disappointed. I’ll end this review by giving an enormous amount of credit to Iced Earth and to any other band out there who makes music devoid of trendy-nuances and plays with passion, as well as having something a lot of bands lack nowadays…VISION. Most bands out there want nothing but to be on the cover on Rolling Stone. Guys like Schaffer, Mustaine, Iommi, Harris, Hendrix, Lennon, Segovia… all picked up guitars for the same reasons, and that is to create MUSIC, straight from their hearts. I wish more bands did the same, but I’m sure someone will rise through all this crap and bring it all back…

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