Dystopia (Iced Earth album)

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Dystopia
Studio album by Iced Earth
Released October 17, 2011 (Europe)
October 18, 2011 (USA)
Recorded May – July 2011[1]
at Morrisound Recording
Genre Heavy metal
Length 45:05
Label Century Media
Producer Jim Morris and Jon Schaffer
Iced Earth chronology
Festivals of the Wicked
(2011)
Dystopia
(2011)
Plagues of Babylon
(2014)
Alternative cover
Tour Edition cover

Dystopia is the tenth studio album by American heavy metal band Iced Earth. Released on October 17, 2011, it was the band's first album to feature vocalist Stu Block, who joined after previous vocalist Matt Barlow left the band. Dystopia was also the last Iced Earth studio album to feature bassist Freddie Vidales and drummer Brent Smedley.

The album was recorded during the summer of 2011 at Morrisound Recording, with co-producer Jim Morris. While not a concept album, many of the album's songs are inspired by dystopian themes and films,[2] very much like the group's 2001 album Horror Show, which was largely inspired by horror films and other similar subjects.[3] Two songs off of Dystopia (the title track and "Tragedy and Triumph") feature the return of rhythm guitarist Jon Schaffer's Something Wicked concept, which has appeared on many of the band's previous albums.[2]

During its first week, the album sold over 6,000 copies in the United States and charted in eight countries, including Germany, Finland and the UK.[4][5][6] The album was met with a very positive response, with some critics calling it one of Iced Earth's best albums.[7][8] Many also praised Stu Block's performance and wide vocal range. Dystopia was followed by an extensive world tour which included dates in countries that Iced Earth had never played before, including Cyprus, China and Australia.[9][10]

Background[edit]

On March 3, 2011, Iced Earth vocalist Matt Barlow issued a statement on the band's official website, stating that he was retiring from the band (for a second time) in order to spend more time with his family.[11] Barlow was still going to take part in the band's upcoming festival appearances during the summer, and he played his final concert with Iced Earth on August 6, 2011, at the Wacken festival in Germany.[12]

Shortly after announcing Barlow's departure from the band, Iced Earth announced that Into Eternity frontman Stu Block had been chosen as the band's new lead vocalist.[13] According to band founder and rhythm guitarist Jon Schaffer, one of the CEOs at Century Media told him about Stu Block.[14] Although Schaffer was uncertain about Block's voice at that point, he was impressed by Block's "presence" and "passion."[14] Block was then sent some instrumental tracks of older songs, for which he recorded vocals and then sent them back to Schaffer.[14] He was then flown out to meet Schaffer and to see how the two would gel together.[14] During this time, they wrote two songs together; "End of Innocence" and "Dark City".[14]

Writing and recording[edit]

According to Jon Schaffer, his approach to Dystopia was much more focused compared to previous albums from the last ten years or so.[15] Among other things, Schaffer cited his "awakening" and the following Sons of Liberty project for sparking his interest in Iced Earth again, along with Stu Block joining the band.[15]

A large part of the writing was done at Schaffer's home studio in Indiana.[16] According to Block, the way he and Schaffer would go about writing the film-based lyrics was by watching the film, jotting down notes about the plot, and then start writing to the music.[16]

The album was recorded at Morrisound Recording between May and July with producer Jim Morris, who has worked as producer/co-producer and occasional musician on all of the band's albums from The Dark Saga onward.[1][2] The band began master tracking the album in mid July.[17]

Songs[edit]

Musically, the album follows the same pattern as previous Iced Earth albums,[18][19] containing a diverse collection of material,[18] from songs influenced by thrash and speed metal, like "Boiling Point" and "Days of Rage",[20] to mid-tempo ballads, such as "End of Innocence" and "Anguish of Youth".[20]

A buddy of mine said, "You know Jon, this whole Something Wicked thing could be true". I thought about it a moment and said, "Well, I don't know about that. But there are some creepy parallels in contemporary life". So as I was thinking about all of the great movies, albums, and books with dystopian themes, I remembered that conversation and it occurred to me that the Something Wicked story could continue in a few tracks here very nicely.

Jon Schaffer on the idea of continuing the Something Wicked Saga on Dystopia.[2]

While not a concept album, many of the album's songs were inspired by dystopian themes and films, such as V for Vendetta, Dark City, Soylent Green, and Equilibrium.[2] Two songs, "Dystopia" and "Tragedy and Triumph," feature the return of Jon Schaffer's Something Wicked Saga, which had previously appeared on the albums Something Wicked This Way Comes, Framing Armageddon and The Crucible of Man.[2] According to Schaffer, the first song, "Dystopia", is "a step back timeline-wise" from the last song on The Crucible of Man, "Come What May".[2] While "Come What May" "sets the scenario that it is up to us and the decisions we make that will determine the future of the human race," "Dystopia" takes place "in a time when people are in highly controlled prison-like city states".[2] This leads to their "eventual emancipation" in the last song, "Tragedy and Triumph".[2]

The song "Anthem" was described by Block as a celebration of "people, the human spirit, and life",[1] while "Boiling Point" talks about people who are "at the end of their road".[21] "Anguish of Youth" talks about teenage suicide[21] and "End of Innocence" is about Block's mother who is battling cancer.[1]

Release and promotion[edit]

Iced Earth in December, 2012.

On July 27, the cover art and release dates for Dystopia were revealed.[2] The album was set to be released on October 17 in Europe and on October 18 in the US.[2] The tracks "Anthem" and "Days of Rage" were released early on a promotional EP that came with the October 2011 issue of Rock Hard magazine.[22] On October 6, the title-track was made available for streaming on Revolver magazine's official website.[23] Between September 16 and October 21, Century Media posted five "making of" episodes online, which featured footage from the album's recording process.[12][24][25][26][27]

The album was released via Century Media Records on October 17 in Europe, and on October 18 in the US. The album was made available as a normal CD, a gatefold LP and as a digital download as well as two limited editions. The first was a limited digipak that included two bonus tracks, a slipcase, and a printed patch.[28] The second was a limited deluxe box set containing the limited digipak with the printed patch and bonus tracks, as well as a belt buckle, a lighter, a wrist band, a beer coaster, and a set of 3 buttons.[29] During its first week, Dystopia sold 6,100 copies in the United States.[4]

On October 28, the music video for the title track was released.[5] The second music video, "Anthem", was released on January 24, 2012.[30] The video was filmed at the Essigfabrik in Cologne, Germany on December 7, 2011, during the band's Dystopia World Tour.[31]

On June 14, 2012, it was announced that a limited tour edition of Dystopia would be available at merchandise stands on the band's upcoming US tour with Volbeat.[32] The tour edition includes the original full-length album, as well as covers of Iron Maiden's "The Trooper" and Black Sabbath's "The Mob Rules", and the 2011 re-recording of "Dante's Inferno".[32] A bonus disc also contains both music videos from Dystopia, as well as a "Making of Dystopia" interview with the band, and exclusive cell phone skins and desktop backgrounds.[32]

Dystopia World Tour[edit]

Main article: Dystopia World Tour

The album was followed by an extensive world tour, which started on October 30, 2011 in Bochum, Germany.[33] Prior to the album's release, the tour was named "the most extensive world tour Iced Earth has ever undertaken"[2] and that it would take the band "to countries it has never previously played".[33][34] The tour featured a total of 133 dates.[33] Iced Earth also recorded a live CD/DVD on August 19, 2012 in Cyprus.[35]

On October 31, 2011, Iced Earth announced a co-headlining tour across North America with Symphony X.[33][36] On April 18, 2012, it was announced that Iced Earth (along with Hellyeah) would be supporting Volbeat on their North American tour, starting June 18, 2012.[37]

On the first European leg of the Dystopia World Tour, Iced Earth was supported by Fury UK and White Wizzard.[38] During the tour's first North American leg, Iced Earth was supported by Warbringer.[39] Evergrey, Steel Engraved and Deadshape Figure supported Iced Earth during the third and final European leg.[40]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Metal Army America (A)[20]
Imperiumi.net (10-/10)[7]
About.com 4/5 stars[18]
Hallowed.se 6/7 stars[8]
BW&BK 8.5/10 stars[41]
Ultimate Guitar (8.3/10)[42]
The Metal Critic (8.2/10)[43]
Metal Storm 7.5/10 stars[19]
The Newreview 3.5/5 stars[44]
Allmusic 3/5 stars[45]
Kaaoszine.fi 6/10 stars[46]

The response to the album has been mostly positive. Mape Ollila, from the Finnish music website Imperiumi, called the album "without a doubt Iced Earth's best album as whole, since 1996's The Dark Saga, maybe even better than that," while Max Lussier from The New Review called the album "easily the best thing to come from the IE camp in nearly a decade."[44] Caj Källmalm, from Swedish website Hallowed, also called Dystopia "by far the best full length album from Iced Earth."[8]

Many of the songs, such as the title track, "Anthem" and "Tragedy and Triumph", have been praised. Mape Ollila described the title-track as "a fast, classic Iced Earth composition"[7] and Juha Attola from Finnish website Kaaos, called it "familiar Iced Earth."[46] The title-track was also one of Allmusic's track picks.[45] Caj Källmalm named "Anthem" as one the album's best songs[8] and Chad Bowar from About described it as "appropriately enough, anthemic."[18] Keith Chachkes of Metal Army America also called "Anthem" "a rousing call to arms against hypocrisy and sycophants who seem to be overrunning the world these days." Jay Brown from Ultimate Guitar named "Tragedy and Triumph" his favorite track on the album,[42] while Ollila called the song "one of the biggest rallys of Iced Earth's career", and that it makes "an over aged fan boy do a one man circle pit across his living room."[7]

Many have also praised Stu Block's performance as the new lead vocalist. Jay Brown felt that Stu Block "makes himself at home as Iced Earth's new singer on Dystopia."[42] Caj Källmalm called his vocals "very much like Matt Barlow['s], but much better."[8] Mark Gromen from Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles praised Block on how he shows off "his ability to tread the lines of both Tim "Ripper" Owens and Matt Barlow, yet make the song his own"[41] while Chad Bowar also praised Block on how he "brings a varied performance, and delivers the lyrics convincingly no matter if it's an aggressive lower pitched section, traditional singing or belting it out." Keith Chachkes also said that "Stu Block steps right in and does a fantastic job."[20]

On the other hand, some have criticized Dystopia. Juha Attola felt that the album was too much like the band's previous releases, but still gave positive feedback of Stu Block's vocals.[46] In the end, Attola "was left with a somewhat subdued image of the album", but recommended it for "fans of the band, and for anyone who likes traditional heavy metal." Baz Anderson from Metal Storm also recommended the album as "a confidence-boosting album that will be much appreciated and gladly received by anyone with an interest in this long-running and respectable band," but also said that the album "doesn't go beyond being just good."[19]

Metal-rules.com placed Dystopia at number 2 on their "Top 20 Metal Albums of 2011" list.[47]

Track listing[edit]

Regular edition[48]
No. Title Lyrics Music Length
1. "Dystopia"   Stu Block, Jon Schaffer Schaffer 5:49
2. "Anthem"   Block, Schaffer Schaffer 4:54
3. "Boiling Point"   Block Schaffer 2:46
4. "Anguish of Youth"   Schaffer Schaffer 4:41
5. "V"   Block, Schaffer Schaffer, Troy Seele 3:39
6. "Dark City"   Block Schaffer 5:42
7. "Equilibrium"   Block Schaffer 4:30
8. "Days of Rage"   Schaffer Schaffer 2:17
9. "End of Innocence"   Block Schaffer 4:07
10. "Tragedy and Triumph"   Block, Schaffer Schaffer 7:44
Total length:
45:05
Downloadable bonus track (included in Japanese Edition and various retail versions)
No. Title Lyrics Music Length
11. "The Trooper" (Iron Maiden cover) Steve Harris Harris 4:19
iTunes bonus track
No. Title Lyrics Music Length
11. "The Mob Rules" (Black Sabbath cover) Ronnie James Dio Geezer Butler, Dio, Tony Iommi 3:08
Limited edition
No. Title Lyrics Music Length
1. "Dystopia"   Block, Schaffer Schaffer 5:49
2. "Anthem"   Block, Schaffer Schaffer 4:54
3. "Boiling Point"   Block Schaffer 2:46
4. "Anguish of Youth"   Schaffer Schaffer 4:41
5. "V"   Block, Schaffer Schaffer, Seele 3:39
6. "Dark City"   Block Schaffer 5:42
7. "Equilibrium"   Block Schaffer 4:30
8. "Days of Rage"   Schaffer Schaffer 2:17
9. "End of Innocence"   Block Schaffer 4:07
10. "Soylent Green"   Block Schaffer, Seele 4:20
11. "Iron Will"   Block, Schaffer Schaffer 4:15
12. "Tragedy and Triumph"   Block, Schaffer Schaffer 8:23
13. "Anthem" (String Mix) Block, Schaffer Schaffer 4:54

Personnel[edit]

Chart positions[edit]

Year Chart Position
2011 UK Rock Charts 18[5]
German Charts 23[5]
Finnish Charts 34[6]
Austrian Charts 51[5]
Swiss Charts 53[5]
Billboard 200 67[4]
Dutch Charts 85[5]
Belgian Charts 96[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Stu Block interview by Heavy Metal Thunder.". Blabbermouth.net. Retrieved October 8, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Iced Earth reveal cover art and release dates.". Icedearth.com. Retrieved October 8, 2011. 
  3. ^ "Horror Show". Icedearth.com. Retrieved 2011-11-21. 
  4. ^ a b c "Dystopia first week sales". Blabbermouth.net. Retrieved October 26, 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h ""Dystopia" music video". Blabbermouth.net. October 28, 2011. Retrieved 2011-010-28.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  6. ^ a b "Dystopia Finnish chart position". Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland ry. Retrieved October 30, 2011. 
  7. ^ a b c d "Dystopia review.". Imperiumi.net. Retrieved October 18, 2011. 
  8. ^ a b c d e "Dystopia review.". Hallowed.se. Retrieved October 8, 2011. 
  9. ^ "First-Ever Chinese Shows | The Official Iced Earth Website". Icedearth.com. Retrieved March 30, 2012. 
  10. ^ "First-Ever Australian Shows | The Official Iced Earth Website". Icedearth.com. Retrieved March 30, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Iced Earth Vocalist Matt Barlow Retires From The Band, Releases Emotional Statement | The Official Iced Earth Website". Icedearth.com. March 3, 2011. Retrieved October 2, 2011. 
  12. ^ a b "Fourth "Making of" episode released | The Official Iced Earth Website". Icedearth.com. October 6, 2011. Retrieved 2011-10-06. 
  13. ^ "Iced Earth Leader Chooses New Vocalist, Announces European Leg Of Massive World Tour | The Official Iced Earth Website". Icedearth.com. March 16, 2011. Retrieved 2011-010-02.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  14. ^ a b c d e "Jon Schaffer and Stu Block interviewed by 'Hard Force TV'". YouTube. October 16, 2011. Retrieved 2011-010-20.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  15. ^ a b "Jon Schaffer interviewed on Peek from the Pit.". YouTube. Retrieved February 6, 2012. 
  16. ^ a b "Stu Block interviewed on "The Aebyss."". Blabbermouth.net. Retrieved October 12, 2011. 
  17. ^ "Studio report from Jon Schaffer.". Icedearth.com. Retrieved October 2, 2011. 
  18. ^ a b c d "Dystopia review.". About.com. Retrieved October 21, 2011. 
  19. ^ a b c "Dystopia review.". Metal Storm. Retrieved October 18, 2011. 
  20. ^ a b c d "Dystopia review.". Metal Army America. Retrieved October 30, 2011. 
  21. ^ a b "Stu Block interviewed by Metal Sound.". YouTube. Retrieved February 4, 2012. 
  22. ^ "Rock Hard October 2011.". Rockhard.de. Retrieved 2011-10-08. 
  23. ^ ""Dystopia" at Revolvermag.com". Revolvermag.com. October 6, 2011. Retrieved 2011-010-06.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  24. ^ "First "Making of" episode released | The Official Iced Earth Website". Icedearth.com. September 16, 2011. Retrieved 2011-010-02.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  25. ^ "Second "Making of" episode released | The Official Iced Earth Website". Icedearth.com. September 23, 2011. Retrieved 2011-010-02.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  26. ^ "Third "Making of" episode released | The Official Iced Earth Website". Icedearth.com. October 1, 2011. Retrieved 2011-010-02.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  27. ^ "Fifth "Making of" episode released | The Official Iced Earth Website". Icedearth.com. October 2, 20111. Retrieved 2011-010-21.  Check date values in: |date=, |accessdate= (help)
  28. ^ "Dystopia dikipak.". Cmdistro.com. Retrieved October 8, 2011. 
  29. ^ "Dystopia box set.". Cmdistro.com. Retrieved October 8, 2011. 
  30. ^ ""Anthem" music video at Revolvermag.com". Revolvermag.com. January 24, 2012. Retrieved 2012-01-25. 
  31. ^ "Iced Earth to film 'Anthem' music video.". Blabbermouth.net. Retrieved 2011-12-01. 
  32. ^ a b c "Dystopia tour edition to be released.". Blabbermouth.net. Retrieved 2012-06-15. 
  33. ^ a b c d "Tour Date | The Official Iced Earth Website". Icedearth.com. Retrieved November 9, 2011. 
  34. ^ "Iced Earth Announces World Tour | The Official Iced Earth Website". Icedearth.com. Retrieved November 9, 2011. 
  35. ^ "Iced Earth announces Indian tour dates, a live DVD and new bass player.". icedearth.net. Retrieved 2012-04-10. 
  36. ^ "Iced Earth Announces Co-Headlining Tour With Symphony X | The Official Iced Earth Website". Icedearth.com. Retrieved November 9, 2011. 
  37. ^ "Iced Earth Announces North American Tour With Volbeat And Hellyeah | The Official Iced Earth Website". Icedearth.com. Retrieved 2012-04-18. 
  38. ^ "Iced Earth Announces Supporting Bands | The Official Iced Earth Website". Icedearth.com. Retrieved November 9, 2011. 
  39. ^ "Iced Earth Announces Co-Headlining Tour With Symphony X | The Official Iced Earth Website". Icedearth.com. Retrieved 2011-11-09. 
  40. ^ "Iced Earth Announces Third European Leg | The Official Iced Earth Website". Icedearth.com. Retrieved 2012-07-16. 
  41. ^ a b "Dystopia review.". BW&BK. Retrieved October 17, 2011. 
  42. ^ a b c "Dystopia review.". Ultimate Guitar. Retrieved October 22, 2011. 
  43. ^ "The Metal Critic: Iced Earth – Dystopia". The Metal Critic. Retrieved October 22, 2011. 
  44. ^ a b "Dystopia review.". The Newreview. Retrieved October 22, 2011. 
  45. ^ a b "Dystopia review.". Allmusic. Retrieved November 9, 2011. 
  46. ^ a b c "Dystopia review.". Kaaos.fi. Retrieved October 8, 2011. 
  47. ^ Rules, Metal (2012-01-08). "News, Interviews, Concert Reviews » Best of 2011". Metal-rules.com. Retrieved 2014-06-03. 
  48. ^ "Dystopia CD.". Cmdistro.com. Retrieved October 11, 2011. 
  49. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Dystopia album credits. Century Media. 2011. 

External links[edit]