Iced Earth are perhaps the most famous power metal band to come out of the United States. One of the few answers, apart from Kamelot, that the US has produced to counter the proliferous power metal scene in Europe, the band has a legacy spanning back to the 80s. Drawing influence from old school metal along the lines of Iron Maiden, as well as thrash, power, and some even say progressive metal, this band has become famous due to Jon Schaffer's sick rhythm guitar lines, and Matt Barlow (a longtime singer of the band who left in 2003 due to personal issues) who provided perhaps the best vocals the power metal scene has ever seen.
And this captured them on a 1999 date in Athens, playing a live concert for a sold out crowd, with all their classics, all their best tracks up to the Something Wicked album. The tracklisting has everything, from moody and melodic (Watching Over Me, I Died For You), to aggressive pieces of music (Vengeance Is Mine, Pure Evil, Brainwashed), to classic epics (The Coming Curse, Dante's Inferno, Travel In Stygian), everything is on here, delivered with good production (for live standards), excellent musicianship, everything that trademarks Iced Earth is on this disc.
The rhythm guitars are just as kickass as ever. I wish I could have been there, headbanging to some of the best riffs I've ever heard. Jon Schaffer is a genius. The lead guitars are perfectly placed, not too wankish ever or out of place, always well-placed, always just on time, and played with meticulous precision. Matt Barlow proves he is no slacker, and that his excellent vocals are also suited for live environments and not just the studio. From sad, to aggressive, to just terrifying, he can put so much emotion and rage into his voice, even live, this man was such an asset to the band when he still was around. And he has stage presence too, almost every song makes the crowd chant for more, every song is sung along, the crowd is going nuts. It's nearly the perfect concert, 3 hours of a great band playing a great crowd in a great venue (Athens, mythological significance, anyone), playing their best songs.
This is a must have for any Iced Earth fan, this is a must have for anyone looking to get into power metal or the band as it gives a perfect summary of their qualities and the early parts of their discography, it's excellent for musicians as the band never lets up during their relentless barrage of music, there is good crowd interaction, the production is perfect... you could hardly come across a better live album. Ever. This may be well my favourite live cd ever produced. Highly, highly, highly recommended to get for all you music fans out there.