Iced Earth

Live at the Belasco Theater

Los Angeles, CA

March 8th, 2018

Review and photos by Travis Baumann

Iced Earth are an American metal band that cover many sub-genres with their extensive thirty-five year career. Based around the formidable talent of Jon Schaffer, they have seen a massive roster change through the years but have always remained true to their initial inspiration and base sound.

Last year saw the release of their latest effort, "Incorruptible", which features the broad reach of their signature sound in ten diversified tracks. Everything from battle anthems to solemn spirit guide journeys, to recalling days of pirates and the Revolutionary War.

Iced Earth consist of Jon Schaffer on rhythm guitar and backing vocals of course, Luke Appleton on bass guitar and backing vocals, Brent Smedley on drums, Jake Dreyer on lead guitar and the front man himself, Stu Block leading the charge.

I have seen Iced Earth quite a few times over the years and they generally include a handful of songs that they play every time. This time around, they shook things up by switching out those mainstays for some interesting choices that were really great to see live.

The set list was extensive, clocking in at eighteen songs, some of which are quite lengthy in and of themselves. The new album featured heavily such as with the set starter "Great Heathen Army" setting the pace from the get go. They followed that up with an old favorite "Burning Times" and brought on "Dystopia" directly on it's heels.

"Black Flag" and "Seven Headed Whore" brought two more new songs to the enthusiastic audience before they did a great melancholy song from a past era with "I Died For You". "Brothers" was up next, off "Incorruptible" and where they originally had "Last December" on the play list, they substituted that for "Dracula" from the album that was a tribute to older horror films, "Horror Show".

My favorite song from the new album is "Raven Wing" and Stu gave a nice introduction to it by detailing that Jon wrote the song about spirit guides and totem animals and that each of us can focus our energies through nature.

Stu then asked the audience if they would like to hear the "Something Wicked" trilogy straight through. The audience screamed affirmation and they played the twenty minute triptych for the first time that I can recall in concert, starting with "Prophecy" followed by "Birth of the Wicked" and closing with "The Coming Curse".

They then tracked back to their debut album with "Stormrider" with Jon singing the lead himself. Stu came back out for the amazing "Angels Holocaust" before closing out the main set with "Travel in Stygian".

The band left the stage but the audience were chanting "Iced Earth!" repeatedly before they even cleared it. After a short break the quintet returned and they played "Clear the Way (December 13th, 1862)" from the new album.

Stu said they had one more song for us tonight and it was a special one. Jon had written it many years ago when he lost a dear friend. Stu said tonight they were honoring the fallen singer Warrel Dane of Sanctuary who were sharing this tour in memorial and farewell to the late vocalist. Stu had everyone in the audience yell Warrel's name three times followed by the band's name, Sanctuary thrice as well. With that he said I am singing this song tonight in Warrel's honor, "Watching Over Me". It was an emotional song, as it always is, but with special meaning tonight.

The entire audience sang along and when it ended, it was a bit surreal. The band took their bow and we all returned to the night, heavily moved. It was a great show, and I really enjoyed all the different songs they did this time around as well as all of the new material.

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