Iced Earth Melts Faces at HOB
March 28th, 2018
American power metal is still alive and well and thriving in the CLE as proven by Kill Ritual, Sanctuary and Iced Earth as they descended into the House of Blues for a spirited yet cramped night in the venue’s Cambridge room Tuesday night.
Apparently the House of Blues felt it was more important to house some sort
of electronic dance party in the main room, much to the displeasure of the 500+ throng of headbangers and Iced Earth’s John Shaffer who promised to make this right later in the band's tour schedule.
The night started out with a short but entertaining set from San Jose’s Kill Ritual. The highlight of this set was the opener "The Eyes of Medusa" and the closer, a spirited cover of UFO’s "Lights Out." in which lead singer David Reed Watson ran through the crowd sharing the microphone with several members of the audience.
Next up was the legendary Sanctuary, now fronted by Witherfall lead singer and cousin of the late great Ronnie James Dio, Joseph Michael. As most people now are aware Sanctuary’s lead singer Warrel Dane recently passed away and was very much on the minds of the bands as the tour was often referred to as the “Warrel Dane Memorial Tour." Michael has a great set of pipes and fared well most of the night, but Dane’s dynamic presence and vocal range were definitely missing from the night.
That being said, Sanctuary blazed through a wide range of their material from all of their albums drawing equally from Inception, The Mirror Black and the underrated The Year the Sun Died. In a real Spinal Tap moment, Michael was struck in the forehead by the guitar neck of guitarist Joey Concepcion, but it really didn’t slow him down a bit. All cylinders were clicking during "Battle Angels" and the title track from The Year the Sun Died left the crowd begging for more, but this night really belonged to the mighty Iced Earth.
John Schaffer and the boys from Iced Earth roared on stage playing "The Great Heathen Army," from their newest effort Incorruptible and never really took their feet off the accelerator for the rest of the night. Lead singer Stu Block has really stepped in and filled the large shoes of long time front man Matt Barlow and made this band his own. It’s evident that these guys really love what they're doing, and there's a real bond between them and their loyal fans. With such an enormous catalog of material to choose from, someone is always going to be disappointed by the song selection, but Iced Earth did a good job of mixing in the new material with enough of the old classics to keep everyone happy. "Black Flag," " Brothers" and "The Seven Headed Whore" from Incorruptible were mixed in with past classics like "I Died for You," " Angels Holocaust" and my personal favorite, "Travel in Stygian." In my mind no one song typifies Iced Earth more than "Travel In Stygian."
One fan up front was clamoring for the epic "Dante’s Inferno," but as Stu Block apologized they really couldn’t fit in the sixteen minute-plus long classic that night. John Shaffer whipped the crowd into a frenzy late in the set by taking the microphone over himself for the old school rocker "Stormrider," and implored the crowd to start moshing to which the crowd was all too willing to participate. The boys returned for an encore of "Clear the Way" from Incorruptible and finished the night by dedicating "Watching Over Me," a song John wrote years ago to honor a fallen friend, to Warrel Dane. Let’s hope these guys can return later in this tour and play a proper venue as promised, or that the House of Blues can see fit to let dance music stay in the dance clubs where it belongs so us headbangers don’t have to be squeezed in like sardines next time.
Photos by Jon Lichtenberg and Review by Chris Orr