Year : 2011
Genre : Power Metal
Label : Century Media
Origin : United States
Rating : 6.5 / 10
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Iced Earth's latest studio package is the solid equivalent of a portal device, because this right here is your all-time favorite mobile cheese storage that contains a hyper-abundant amount of rebellious platitude, embodied by the LP's quite consistently anti-exigent lyrical content. The anti-exigency - it is assuaging to write it down twice than not to at all - exhibited in the lyrical contribution on Iced Earth's Dystopia is so fantastically rampant when at its peak moments, that it becomes an unexpected and quite steep challenge to appreciate the actual music ridden by the weightless, naive textual status reports the album is a rather muscular galore of.
- "Prepare for Victory!, WE! are the Resistance!, Victory CALLS!"
- Yeah? Skip the track and tell her I'm busy.
This review will include percepts regarding the actual music on this spin, but a rant is needed to be delivered as result of the cheese-invasion that is affecting about 75% of the lyrics. The record is fixated on two primer lyrical behaviors. First and foremost, it sounds to be in a relentless urge to seek out - dare one say : "recruit" ? - an Enemy figure to proudly stand out against, an act that gives a space to thoroughly - and enthusiastically, so you have something to be properly dreaded of - address the highly paua-metallic spiritual stance needed to form such a declaration on. Mind you, I'm not trying to be the super-asshole here. (Yeah, you could say because I already am.) I like power metal when it takes its mission to form a soul-, to entertain a soul, seriously. But I can tell from a million miles away when locked in an atom-safe bunker when a record-, when a text that is supposed to entertain at the LEAST, takes its listener for a sedated sloth on permanent vacation. This usually happens when the lyrics have absofuckinglutely no dilemma/thought worth sharing to show, and I personally have the hunch that Iced Earth was in a similar position when the immense majority of these lyrics have been forced into reality. Though in my opinion Iced Earth's Dystopia fails legendarily in its attempt - if there was an attempt at all - to reveal lyrics worth imprinting in a spirit, one should not forget that there is music involved, too. Guys, let's talk about the music.
Nah, I lied, first let's indulge a bit more in the cheesefest, because, frankly, the genre looks so much better without it, and why not try to point out the shortcuts that are simply becoming an embarrassment to take? Remember, even from the gates of heaven, there is a road leading to hell. You know the heavy metal deal with Power Sweat : now is the time, we take it back, 'till the end we fight, they can't take our soul away. I'm not exaggerating, these particular fixations are revealed on the record not in a tad less more poetic or exigent fashion than I just gave you the account of. Actually, I just overshot. Things get convoluted, because the enemy is not named, but it might be the Illuminati!! Furthermore : !!!
The other notable pastime of this release is to prepare the Army needed for the Cause, giving the individual soulja' spiritual guidance by pointing out the most potent inner resources and all the stuff - oops? - related. If you think I'm pulling your leg, then here is another verbatim quote from the lyrics contained on this Iced Earth album :
"Transcend to a higher place, accepting reality, you are the key for the life that you seek"
Shit! THAT's it! Somehow I KNEW it! I just KNEW it! You just had to WORD this sublime significance as the antidote for my misery, man!!
Yeah, cynicism sucks ancient monkey tits and it is the bliss of the miserable, but sometimes you can't avoid it. This textual shallowness though remains terrible to witness when other bands put genuine effort and thought to deliver significant lyrics observing the same theme. Check out the song The Ladder from premiere doom metal squad Argus, and note the difference between genuine spiritual content and smoke in the mirror.
In other words, the immense majority of lyrical content on Iced Earth's Dystopia is a cosmic cheesefest and the painful kind of it too, - nothing wrong with mild dosage of it - and the moments here and there that the band spends with some other lyrical theme, are pretty terrible, too. Like a sad girl who "wants to smile and live", but the "tragedy still holds her." - but she - don't know if you catch the drift here - "WANTS to live, FREE from the life of DESPAIR".
OK, but - I don't even know her. (Aaaand I'm not sure I want to, either.)
All in all, a healthy 75-80% of the lyrics and the consorting thought field sounds to be coming from a recalled-from-the-market heavy metal lyrics generator, and they lack all kind of intellectual elegance, imaginative charm or playfulness. The remaining 25% is "just" cheesy, but still OK power metal, but this won't do anything with your mind, either. And : this is not good. Do you know the song Daemon Dance from cosmic level shredder Yngwie Malmsteen? Like - the singer sings some crazy-ass, huge number ending with :
.. "hundred and twenty six"
and then he sings :
"demons will do their dance, cannot escape, holding a crucifix.
It gives me the shivers just writing it down, because I have no idea what does it exactly mean, but it paints frightening pictures in my mind and THAT becomes the MEANING. The lyrics on this record do nothing other or more than register as shameful cheese in my soul. (But I'm glad if they register as something else and something more in yours.)
From a musical point of (re)view, Iced Earth's Dystopia weighs in as acceptable, deeply traditional power metal, - more on this later - plagued though by below average chorus structures that sound to have the communist marching song vibe unleashed on amphetamine without the sear promise of a fucking leash or a big ass taser cannon handy. The power metal chorus, as an autonomous cultural entity, IS prone to be sucked into the communist marching song vibe on its mere own, because the respective senses of beyond you-level "epicness" and "unchangeability" give out a cheap sense of unity right away to be instinctively perceived by the minds that are forced to experience them, simply because each mind finds itself in a super-similar position when relating to these concepts. Wow, look! Now existence could be comfy and humpty-dory for you, because now you are not the only one bathing in the mystery.
I personally tend to think that the communist marching song vibe that I claim power metal is prone to exhibit, is a host-digesting parasite on the body of this PLAYFUL genre, and its most efficient shortcut to commit ritual-level cheesefest-suicide on, too. When cheese does not take itself seriously, then it is totally OK. But Iced Earth is serious about it, on this record. I think even a stellar build can suffer legendarily when the communist marching song vibe is unleashed on it. A great example of this is the opening track on Symphony X's superb Iconoclast, in my opinion. WTF is this sequence with WE! ARE! STRONG! WE! WILL! STAND! AND! FIGHT! in such a tight build!? You try to be super-serious, and you end up a super-spongebob, only made of cheese. You say something silly like this when you have nothing to say, but you have a suspected anticipation/craving to satisfy. A power metal fan wants to fight and rebel, right? If she/he wants, this craving is a shame to assuage THIS cheaply.
Iced Earth's Dystopia is reeking of the communist marching song vibe during the choruses, and, as such, it is very easy to truly appreciate the absence of it whenever the verse or middle section of a track comes back or takes a turn to explore other directions. Do not expect all THAT much variation though. The riffs are pretty simplistic, - but efficient in their crude charm - the wall of sound structures solely rely on ringed, solo power chords without all that much if any cunning at all among their intents, and the compositions themselves most often are going for a kind of early-Metallica thrashy vibe, complimented by an Eye of the Tiger mood in the mid-tempo builds, only with more fuel and heft used up. Mind us, that these directions do not at all prevent the release to pack very efficient moments. In my opinion, all of these are coming your way when the band engages full power efficiency, and I think they had problem realizing the entertainment factor of mid-tempo sections. Like the start of the otherwise solid opening track. Uhm. Four chords are being played for you for 1 whole fucking minute. Dude. Play them 3 times, everyone will get what you are about, interrupt the fourth, and you have an intro. Now start the damn song. < - tip.
The mentioning of Metallica is not accidental. If the singer on Iced Earth's Dystopia would have three wishes, I bet 4 of those would be to sing exactly like Metallica's James Hetfield. Say what you want about Metallica, - I won't, and I imagine the collective dread and horror of the Metallica members because of it - but James Hetfield has a super-solid set of pipes and palpable emotion in his singing voice, and you would have to be an elite level troll to even to THINK to question that. Iced Earth's vocalist bitterly approximates/imitates the general timber and the great mannerisms - like the word ending alpha wolf quasi-growls - of Hetfield with about 60% convince power, and I have nothing more to add to this notion, because there isn't. A re-occurring secondary vocal methodology of the release is to deliver Rob Halfordish head voice singing here and there, but, something - like the Rabid Animal of Mr. Halford, maybe?? - is fucking MIA, so the experience pretty much is that you are listening to a man pretending he has no balls. And, to be frank, each and every line he sings on this release, sounds to me like he sings about JUST that. "I have NO balls, NO balls, I have NONE of those!" On a third complementary note, some narrative-, Anselmo-like-, badass, menacing background muttering is sometimes utilized, too, but this is marginal compared both to the respective frequencies of the Hetfield-clone singing and the Rob Halford, BUT!, without the balls-kind of signing obtainable herein.
The record has a healthy, youthful general tempo colored by some slower tracks here and there, arranged on the contribution's body in a well balanced fashion. The titular opening track, third song Boiling Point and sixth one, Dark City are highlight deliveries worth revisiting for their efficient and muscular power metal charm. (Dark City is a great example how an - in my opinion - weak chorus, that is supposed to TOPPLE the cake, spoils a solid verse section.) The hymn-wannabes of the record are definitely not cups with my tea in it.
Iced Earth's Dystopia ultimately weighs in as an acceptable, stone-traditional power metal album with almost exclusively non-exigent lyrics, but I already had my rant about that, and I have no intention to paint an extra crosshair on my ass beside the one the rabid Iced Earth fan probably already is perceiving on it. Apart from its weightless, cheese-infestation lyrics, Iced Earth's Dystopia still could have been a great instrumental contribution, only it isn't, and here is why : the songs, as solely instrumental declarations, start out decently enough, then they often lose power - hah! - in non-justifiably prolonged mid-, and end sections. Non-justifiable, because there isn't much happening, hello?? The ending portion of Dark City, for example : a tight start and solid verse structure, weaker chorus, and then an instrumental "jam" revolving around two power chords. This is about as exciting as having sex without a body under you. (Alive body, thank you very much.)
The special edition features two bonus tracks, among these, the song called Iron Will sounds to be one of the most strong declarations on the entire release, and no problem with the lyrics there, either : they are JUST sufficiently cheesy. Once again : acceptable power metal with very limited supply of great moments, and you have heard this music being done much more consistently than this effort is capable to register as a full spin.
Rating : 6.5 / 10
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