Progressive Power Metal supergroup Demons and Wizards performed last night in New York City at the soon to be shuttered Playstation Theater. The band made up of members of Iced Earth and Blind Guardian plays their stellar originals and covers of both home bands in their set. The band was joined by former Iced Earth and current Ashes of Ares singer Matt Barlow for a cover of Iced Earth’s classic “I Died Fr You”! Watch and listen to the great cover and the crowd going off! Continue reading
Former Iced Earth singer Matt Barlow rejoined the band on stage in Baltimore last night. Together they performed a classic track, ‘Watching Over Me’. Watch it below!
Matt Barlow, for the vocalist of Iced Earth and also known for Ashes Of Ares and Pyramaze has formed a new band. Jonah Weingarten (Pyramaze, Structure Of Inhumanity) and Barlow have joined up to form Sentinels. Continue reading
I have a slight issue with albums like Angelus Apatrida’s Hidden Evolution, their third for Century Media and fifth overall. See, I know that if I’d have picked this up in my teens, I’d have loved it and adopted them as a pet band, bought the T-shirt (providing it had a skull on it, which it surely would have) and I’d probably still be returning to it now – it has all the requisite elements, thrashed riffs, pace and power but with Skolnick-ian melodic leads to spice up the chugs, as well as melodic choruses, such as ‘Wanderers Forever’. But the issue is, that I don’t know if I can be wholly comfortable with reconciling an album that I’d recommend twenty years ago to an album I’d recommend now. But these Spanish thrashers are making a damn good go of convincing me.
Vocalist Guillermo Izquierdo flits from Dave Mustaine to Phil Anselmo territory within the space of ‘Architects’ and elsewhere calls to mind both Matt Barlow and modern day Zetro in delivery and phrasing (indeed, Iced Earth jamming with Exodus is an early impression that stays with you throughout repeat visits), and, at heart, this is thrash with its roots firmly in the Among The Living’s of our world, with worthy metal song-writing and some sanguine touches, such as the outro to ‘Tug of War’.
Alongside Izquierdo, his brother in guitaring arms David G. Alvarez finds the balance between raging, cutting loose and adding clever melodic guitar touches, little guitar licks that are reminiscent of Xentrix at their best, or some slick open chord embellishments to keep things interesting. Whilst staying within the (at times restrictive) confines of the genre, AA keep things fresh by varying their attack – capable of “heads down and see you at the end” numbers in the shape of the slamming ‘Serpents On Parade’, locked down spiky riffing, such as ‘End Man’, chugging out ‘First World Of Terror’ or bringing the hooks with the anthemic variants of ‘I Owe You Nothing’.
There are criticisms in that Hidden Evolution is a touch lengthy, and, despite playing with the various shibboleths that are prevalent within the “Serious Thrash” boundaries, these are still tropes that aren’t particularly new. But all that said, Angelus Apatrida have pulled together a very credible, consistent and enjoyable modern thrash album to be proud of. Despite my initial scepticisms, its over-riding “Proper” metalness and proliferation of hooks and actual songs has won me over. Fair play.
Sixteen years and five albums have passed since Iced Earth blew me away with Something Wicked This Way Comes, a tour de force that still serves as their defining moment. Since then, while it would be harsh to say Iced Earth have been undeserving of the loyalty their fan base has shown, it would be fair to say they’ve not reached the heights of their early days. Horror Show was aptly named, Ripper Owens came in and found lightning does indeed strike twice, once again finding himself a great vocalist joining a band not at their creative peak (while not being “the guy”), “the guy” Matt Barlow re-joined to release an album that made everyone wish he hadn’t bothered, before 2011’s Dystopia saw the more-Barlow-than-Barlow Stu Block, take over the mic stand for a very credible return-to- form.
And the goodwill of the faithful continues to be rewarded as Plagues of Babylon (Century Media) picks up where Dystopia left off very nicely indeed; producing a slew of distinctive classic Iced Earth heavy metal tracks. Opening pairing of the title track and ‘Democide’ deliver chunky riffs, before ‘The Culling’ raises the bar – all ‘Disposable Heroes’ juddering staccato verse riff into trademark IE rousing chorus. Elsewhere, ‘If I Could See You’ is the natural successor to ‘Watching Over Me’, and a great example that metal ballads still exist, ‘Cthulu’ picks up the pace nicely, ‘Among The Living Dead’ could be lifted off the Anthrax album it’s title references with its lean riffage paying homage to `N.F.L.’, while ‘Peacemaker’ lifts the serious mask for a second, bringing a Wild West HM rompastomp to the table. ‘Resistance’ and ‘The End?’ could have been lifted straight from SWTWC, powerful and epic choruses sit in between crunchy, thrashy and powerful metal riffs, played out over classy melodic leads.
Full of excellent understated yet rousing choruses that stretch out over thrash-tinged heavy metal riffs and enmeshed with their traditional formula of Metallica, Priest and Maiden, on Plagues of Babylon Iced Earth relentlessly deliver powerful, convincing and epic songs throughout an album that more than picks up the baton from its predecessor.
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“The culmination of experiences, trials and tribulations of founding members Matt Barlow, Van Williams and Freddie Vidales”; the opening line of Ashes Of Ares biography. Now these names should rings bells and if they don’t then you probably aren’t a follower of Nevermore & Iced Earth because these guys used to play in them. Continue reading