My last sighting of Iced Earth was an underwhelming headline show at the tiny King Tut's Wah Wah Hut club in Glasgow. I wasn't impressed with new singer Stu Block and the glorious melodic power Metal of the Matt Barlow days sounded muted and in the distant past.
A year can make a big difference though and out on tour as support to Volbeat Block came across as full of fire and confidence and handled the vocals well. The sound was good enough to allow their trademark mix of riffs and melodic solos to come through and we got an enjoyable 45 minutes of old fashioned fist pumping power Metal.
I have to say that they still didn't hit the same heights of a few years ago but if they can keep finding the right songs then there is potential for them to climb back up the Metal ladder again.
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I am late to the party so far as Volbeat are concerned. The Danish outfit have a 13 year history, five studio albums and a solid bunch of tours under their belt but this visit to a sold out ABC was my first Volbeat live show.
It was clear to me from opener 'Hallelujah Goat' that this was one tight, heavy music machine but with a large dollop of fun and humour mixed in. The crowd were up for it from the first note and as they carried on through the likes of 'Radio Girl' and 'Lola Montez' frontman Michael Poulsen's big grin and happy demeanour was infectious, the venue was full of smiling, dancing people.
Volbeat have various influences but I would describe them as Metallica goes rockabilly with a touch of Johnny Cash and Green Day mixed in! 'Sad Man's Tongue' is probably the best introduction to that mix and the band start it with a crowd singalong to the man in black's 'Ring Of Fire' before rattling through some breakneck catchy but heavy rockabilly.
The fun continued with a little request covers section with the band playing little excerpts from songs by Dio, Rammstein and others and bantering with the crowd. Don't be fooled that this is a gimmicky band though. They were tight and together and I was very impressed with Poulsen's strong, melodic vocals; it's such a rarity to find a great male singer in Metal these days. They can also write some great songs as the crowd reaction to '16 Dollars' and 'Fallen' showed.
The ninety minute set finished off with a three song encore including their cover of Dusty Springfield's 'I Only Want To Be With You' and the crowd left sweaty and tired but smiling. Volbeat are highly recommended as a live act and not too shabby on album too.