Sound — 9
Iced Earth has always been one of the most impressive live bands around, and this album only serves to further their glory. The style can be described as a power/thrash combo, uniting the riff-driven, heavy crunch of thrash with the higher-pitched, melodic singing of power metal. The sound they had on this show was just right: the guitars had the right amount of volume to be heard and make an impact, the vocals soared smoothely overtop, while the drums and bass provided an appropriate beat beneath everything. Schaffer used B.C. Rich guitars and Marshall amps in this show. The tone he has achieved here heightens the musical experience to another level, providing more distortion and an all around "heavier" feeling, when compared to the album version of each track. The sheer amount of songs Iced Earth played during this performance is damn-near mind boggling: around the 30 mark. Perhaps the most impressive part of the whole show is the quality of Barlow's vocals right from the start. In many live shows, the singer takes a song or two to get warmed up (I noticed this with Dickinson in Maiden's "Live After Death"), but Barlow is at the top of his game straight from the opening line of "Burning Times". The clarity of each instrument is just right and sets the mood for an epic and memorable performance.
Lyrics — 10
By playing songs from across the Iced Earth library, this category earns a perfect 10. Combining tunes from Night of the Stormrider, Something Wicked, Dark Saga, Iced Earth, and Burnt Offerings, the lyrics are always just right and in your face. From thrashy, aggressive songs like "Stand Alone", to powerful numbers like "Melancholy", from passionate ballads such as "A Question Of Heaven" to the 16 minute monster-epic "Dante's Inferno", this show has it all. Once again, Barlow's voice handles each song with ease, bringing every chorus, verse, breakdown, interlude and shriek to life. For the most part, Barlow's live vocals are noticably better than their album brethren. He adds more shrieks, and switches keys quite frequently, keeping the songs fresh and intense. He hits some inhuman notes during this show (listen to the final chorus of "Blessed Are You"). The vocals are just what you would expect from a demon-esque singer like Barlow (thank god we have him back).
Overall Impression — 9
There isn't a lot to hate about this album. The intruments have the perfect tone and volume, the singing is awesome from start to finish, and the crowd is extremely enthusiastic (but that's a given, as Iced Earth has one of the most loyal followings in metal). This is quite possibly the most well put together live album I've heard to date. The entire album stands out as a whole, but the most ear-catching tunes are "Melancholy", "Dante's Inferno", "Blessed Are You", "When The Night Falls", "Travel In Stygian", The "Something Wicked" trilogy, "Angels Holocaust", "I Died For You", and "Watching Over Me". I strongly recommend this album to anyone, whether you be a die-hard fan or a curious newcomer to Iced Earth; and with the recent re-addition of Barlow to the band, we can expect more amazing concerts like this in the near-future.