This was a heavy metal triple bill that promised great things-did it deliver? Sea of Tranquility publisher Pete Pardo was in attendance at New York's BB King's club on April 29th, and reports in with this live concert review.
It was a typical Spring day in New York the night this triple bill of heavy metal heavyweights made their way into town. Heading to the venue I literally ran into a few members of Sweden's Evergrey, who were taking a leisurely stroll up Times Square, probably heading back after grabbing some NYC dinner fare.
Well, the meal must have agreed with them, as they opened the show with an impressive yet short 30- minute set that drew heavily from the new album The Inner Circle as well as their last release Recreation Day. Despite the muddy sound mix (which seems to be the norm at this club), Tom Englund's vocals were excellent, as even live he has one of the most unique voices in metal. The guitars of Englund and Henrik Danhage form a thick and chunky wall of sound, complemented perfectly by the keyboard backdrops from Rikard Zander and a thunderous rhythm section. All that was really missing was the female backing vocals that appear on the albums, and of course, perhaps another 3-4 songs would have been nice as well. At 30 minutes, the band was just starting to get fired up when it was time to leave the stage. The crowd was very appreciative though, and you could sense that this is one of the current crop of newer progressive/power metal bands that might be going places.
The crowd started chanting for Children of Bodom at least 5-minutes before the band came on stage, and when they did, the fans tore the roof off. This Finnish ensemble came out blasting their brand speedy black metal, which features intricate and heavy arrangements, sort of like vintage Iron Maiden, mixed with screeching vocals. Their set featured songs from the most recent CD Hate Crew Deathroll, as well as a sprinkling of older material from albums like Follow The Reaper, Hatebreeder, and Something Wild. To this writer's ear, their music tended to sound the same after a few songs, but many of the New York faithful were singing along to all their songs, while others attempted a mini-mosh pit up near the stage. Regardless of what you think of Children of Bodom's style of metal or lyrical content, you have to be impressed with the twin guitar attack and intricate riffs that they create.
The stage was set for the mighty Iced Earth, who were making their NY debut with new singer Tim "Ripper" Owens, fresh from his stint the past few years with metal legends Judas Priest. Many in attendance were wondering just how he would sound singing the older Iced Earth classics-after all, Matt Barlow has a very distinctive voice, and was with the band for quite a few years. The fact is, we almost didn't get a chance to see the band at all this night, as leader Jon Schaffer had a very bad stomach virus that almost caused the show to be cancelled. However, the trooper that he is, Schaffer was able to play, and the band came out to a huge ovation, and immediately ripped into songs from the new opus, The Glorious Burden.
Owens immediately made everyone forget Barlow, as his high pitched wails on new songs like "Declaration Day", "When the Eagle Cries", "Greenface" and the epic "Gettysburg 1863" (which was the encore) were completely off the charts. Even older tunes like "Melancholy (Holy Martyr)", the epic saga "Something Wicked", "Burning Times", "Dracula", and "Vengeance is Mine", were covered perfectly by Owens, who proved he could hit all the high screams (perhaps no singer in metal can hit them like he can) as well as the lower guttural passages. The band was a tight as can be, and damn heavy! Our section was drinking cheap Reingold beers out of the can by the boatloads, and everyone was banging their heads in unison and shouting along with the Ripper on every song.
Again, the mix was a bit of a problem in their set as well, as the bass at times was too loud and the guitars a little muddy, but the vocals were problem-free. Iced Earth is one of the hardest working live bands around, and the group is probably an opening slot on a major tour away from making the big time. With one of the strongest singers in metal today now in the fold, a hot new album, and a very strong back catalog, Iced Earth has the cards stacked in their favor. If you get a chance, get out and check this tour out. A better night of metal you might not find this year.