Iced Earth - Dystopia
Iced Earth are back, and with yet another new vocalist in tow; following the announcement of Matt Barlow's imminent departure (again), Jon Schaffer recruited Into Eternity frontman Stu Block for new album Dystopia, and he may just be the best pair of lungs the Floridian power metal stalwarts have had yet. Right from the opening title track, he displays a range and virtuosity that is both powerful and impressive, surging from deep bass to high wail like a rocket blasting off.
The theme this time around is rather unsurprisingly dystopian societies of the future, drawing on the likes of Brave New World, V For Vendetta and Blade Runner. Diehard fans will also be overjoyed that Set Abominae, the band's mascot and star of the Something Wicked plot, has returned in the two tracks bookending Dystopia as a dictatorial future leader. Musically, this sounds pretty much exactly as you expect an Iced Earth record to, with lots of galloping riffs and furious solos; Dystopia races along with a surety of its own strength, and enjoys every moment of the ride.