Review by Ali Blackdiamond
The scene was set, I was in position at the front of the crowd on the blisteringly hot Friday afternoon of Bloodstock 2012. I wanted to ensure the best possible view of the stage for my first live experience of the powerful American metallers and what a metal onslaught it turned out to be!
ICED EARTH certainly drew a big crowd for 3.15pm, demonstrating their popularity among the UK crowd. Drummer Brent Smedley was first onstage and began pounding his bass drum and getting the crowd clapping as the other members joined him.
Vocalist Stu Block announced how happy he was to be at Bloodstock, his first European festival and was ecstatic to be ‘popping his festival cherry’ with us! Stu gave several speeches throughout the set with an enthusiastic response from the crowd. He is certainly a great choice as the new ICED EARTH front man: he has a great stage presence, is an expert in working the crowd and above all, has one awesome metal voice!
Luke Appleton looked to have settled extremely well into his role as bass player, as though he has always been there, looking very happy to be so.
The band were all dressed in the traditional ‘metal’ style, with their customised jeans and cut off denims complete with back patches, very cool!
So, to the music! From the first song ‘Dystopia‘ from the latest album of the same name, the band played a storming set in the hour they had, including such classics as ‘My Own Saviour,’ and the very emotional ‘Watching Over Me ‘ ( Something Wicked This way Comes, 1998) and ‘Damien‘ (The Horror Show, 2001). ‘Watching Over Me‘ was particularly poignant with Stu explaining that Jon had written it for his friend who passed away, the emotion was palpable and there was a huge response afterwards from the crowd.
One of Stu’s rousing speeches took place before ‘Anthem‘ (Dystopia, 2011): ‘Now let’s talk about the human spirit, there’s a lot of it in this room. On this new album we were talking about a lot of the negative things happening in the world today, like politicians stealing the fuckin’ money right out of our back pockets, cancer killing our loved ones. But no matter what shit we have to go through, our human spirit will prevail, no matter what they throw at us, can I have a fuckin’ hell yeah?!‘ And he certainly got one!
Nobody could miss Jon Schaffer’s commanding presence with his trademark bandana in place, providing the solid guitar sound and backing vocals along with the riffs of Troy Steele. Pounding away with amazing precision and speed on the twin bass drums was Brent Smedley. Newcomer Luke Appleton did an amazing job on bass and Stu Block’s vocal style is diverse with screams to rival (dare I say ‘maybe better than’ these days?!) metal god Rob Halford. Those notes he hit were amazing!
I could see the harmony between every member of the band, there were lots of smiles between them as they gave us a fantastic metal performance. Their enjoyment was plain to see and transferred to the atmosphere in the crowd, everyone was having a great time during the one hour long set. The band were as slick as a well oiled metal machine and it was the best show of the day for me, I can’t wait until the next time!
Slave To The Dark
Watching Over Me
My Own Saviour
All photos and videos by Ali Blackdiamond.