Games Meet Metal: Iced Earth w/ Symphony X & Warbringer: Another Disturbyng Concert Review

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Friday, February 10, 2012

Iced Earth w/ Symphony X & Warbringer: Another Disturbyng Concert Review

So what do Winnipeggers do when it's -40 outside? We go to a goddamn metal show, that's what. Last night was the Winnipeg stop for the Iced Earth/Symphony X North American tour, a date that the local metal heads have had circled on their calendars for months. These two legendary metal bands have never played The 'Peg before and we were all ready to show them what they've been missing. Onto the metals!

So this is the first time that I've had the chance to see any of these bands. I've been a fan of Iced Earth since '99 with their Alive In Athens album and I've been a fan of Symphony X since 2002's The Odyssey. Through the powers of the internet, I was able to go back and listen to the bands earlier work and I really liked what I heard. I've been watching the tours come and go for these bands just hoping that one day things would work out that I'd be able to go to a show. To have them both play together was something I never thought would happen so I jumped at the opportunity to see these guys.

Starting things off early was Warbringer. Before this show I had never heard of the band, nor did I know what to expect. Judging by the name and the fact that they're playing with Symphony X and Iced Earth, I guessed that they were some kind of Power Metal band. Boy was I wrong. These guys are a balls out, Thrash Metal band that are trying a little too hard to be Slayer. Not that that is a bad thing really. It's just that they didn't sound very original. And speaking of sound, I was really not impressed by the sound mix that they had and unfortunately the sound was not cleared up for the rest of the acts either. Kinda really shitty that a place that sounds as good as the Garrick could also sound so bad. Anyway, Warbringer. Aside from a couple of cliched antics from the lead singer the band seems pretty good. I'll probably acquire and album or two of theirs to see how the music sounds with a good mix before I can give them a proper grade, but they got me wanting to check out more so that's a good thing.

Surprisingly Iced Earth played second. I don't know if this is a tour where the bands trade-off closing spots but I guess I figured the real draw to the show in the first place was Iced Earth and I was expecting them to play last, much like the rest of the audience but I'll touch on that in a bit. I kinda want to give a bit of history with me and Iced Earth. What seems like forever ago, my brother and I planned to travel to Vancouver to see Iced Earth during the Horror Show tour but I believe the concert was cancelled and we missed out. Matt Barlow left the band shortly after and I kinda stopped paying attention to them. The music just wasn't the same with Ripper Owens on vocals. Then Barlow came back and now he's gone again (kinda like Van Halen) so Jon Schaffer recruited Stu Block to take over singing duties. After listening to the new album I had to admit that the guy has a very impressive range but I was curious to see if he was able to pull off the same sound live, and how he handled the older stuff.

Iced Earth opened with their latest single Dystopia to a feverish crowd. These fans have been waiting a long-ass time for this show and they didn't wait long to start moshing around the place. Stu showed the place that he could sing no matter where he was and impressed the living shit out of me. And, as if they knew they had to silence the critics, they followed up their latest with the classic Angel's Holocaust. Holy. Fuck. That song would have made my night if they stopped and went home. I swear I would not have been upset. Thankfully they didn't stop and broke out a decent mixture of new stuff like V and Dark City as well as throwing in fan favourites like Damien, Watching Over Me, When the Night Falls and closing the set with Iced (fucking) Earth. By far the best performance of the night was Dante's Inferno. Nothing warms you up more than tearing up the place to a 15+ minute long song about a journey through hell. A seriously impressive set from one of my favourite metal bands during my late high school years. Now if only they had a better sound mix...... I don't think I heard a clear guitar solo for the entire 90 minute set.

Closing off the night was Symphony X (obviously). It came pretty obvious that the majority of the fans were there to see Iced Earth because they place emptied out pretty quick. I don't know if the fans went to the back of the venue to sit down after tiring themselves out or just left. It's kind of sad that the closing band on a tour plays to a little more fans than the opener. I thought us Peggers were better than that, but I guess I was wrong. But I also got to wonder if during the other shows on tour Iced Earth had the same issue closing the night on a show that was clearly a Symphony X audience. I guess that is the risk bands take for doing a co-headlining tour with bands that aren't in your same sub-genre of metal. Kinda makes me wonder about the Mastodon-Opeth tour coming up later this year.

Symphony X opened up with the title track to their latest release, Iconoclast and then proceeded to play pretty much the whole album. Gotta say I wasn't too thrilled with this decision. It's not that I don't like the new record, in fact I think it's really good. But mix it up a little. They played older tunes as well as fan favourites but it's like they separated the show in two sets: the songs they like from the new album and the songs they like from everything else. Either way, the band sounds great (for the most part. stupid shit mix) and Russell Allen's voice is insanely powerful. That guy can fucking bring it. He was stalking the stage with a bottle of Crown Royal in his hand and yelling out some of the most epic lyrics I have ever heard. Standout songs of their set was Bastards of The Machine, When All is Lost, Inferno and Serpent's Kiss. I think the song that would have made the set perfect would have been Paradise Lost but beggars can't be choosers. I hope that despite losing a some bodies in the crowd they band was impressed with what they saw and they make the decision to travel back to the Peg for another show.

All in all this show was really good. The bands on this bill are excellent and if you haven't had a chance to see either of them you should really make the effort to check them out. This is only a week old so there are a lot of chances for you to see them in your neck of the woods. Here's the rest of the dates:

Fri, Feb 10th - Saskatoon, SK @ Louis’ Pub
Sat, Feb 11th - Edmonton, AB @ Starlite Room
Sun, Feb 12th - Calgary, AB @ Flames Central
Tue, Feb 14th - Vancouver, BC @ Commodore Ballroom
Wed, Feb 15th - Seattle, WA @ Showbox Market
Thu, Feb 16th - Portland, OR @ Hawthorne Theatre
Fri, Feb 17th - San Francisco, CA @ The Regency Ballroom
Sat, Feb 18th - Los Angeles, CA @ Club Nokia
Mon, Feb 20th - Las Vegas, NV @ House of Blues
Tue, Feb 21st - Anaheim, CA @ The Grove of Anaheim
Wed, Feb 22nd - San Diego, CA @ House of Blues (San Diego)
Fri, Feb 24th - Salt Lake City, UT @ The Complex
Sat, Feb 25th - Denver, CO @ Summit Music Hall
Sun, Feb 26th - Kansas City, MO @ The Midland Theater
Mon, Feb 27th - Dallas, TX @ Trees
Tue, Feb 28th - Austin, TX @ Emo’s East
Wed, Feb 29th - Houston, TX @ House of Blues
Fri, Mar 2nd - Fort Lauderdale, FL @ Revolution Live
Sat, Mar 3rd - Lake Buena Vista, FL @ House of Blues (Orlando)
Mon, Mar 5th - Raleigh, NC @ Lincoln Theatre
Tue, Mar 6th - Charlotte, NC @ The Fillmore Charlotte
Wed, Mar 7th - Columbus, OH @ Newport Music Hall
Fri, Mar 9th - Worcester, MA @ The Palladium
Sat, Mar 10th - New York, NY @ Best Buy Theater
Sun, Mar 11th - Clifton Park, NY @ Northern Lights

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