Iced Earth’s new live release, Live in Ancient Kourion is an example of a live release done right in so many ways. With its combination of solid audio and visual recording and equally impressive packaging, this triple-disc release has set itself in this critic’s list of the year’s best live recordings.
So much can be said of Live in Ancient Kourion. So what better starting point than its packaging. The packaging for this release is the first factor that scores points. It is presented in a triple-disc gatefold package with the DVD and each of the set’s two CDs placed into their own spot in the packaging separate from one another. There are those that might argue against this form of packaging, and more in favor of the traditional plastic packaging with dual sided insert for the CDs. Given, this is an ergonomically sound form of packaging. But it isn’t without its faults. The use of the plastic packaging increases the risk of accidentally cracking the case or even the insert that would hold the audio portion of the recording. One of the quick retorts to the use of plastic casing would be the risk of getting the material used for non-plastic packaging wet. But in reality the risk is just as great for water damage with both plastic and non-plastic packaging. So that argument is instantly negated, thus making the packaging in which this set is presented that much better of a choice.
Having noted the packaging of this new live release, the next step is to take a look at the recording’s audio and video quality. The overall audio and video mix of this recording is just as impressive as its packaging. It goes without saying that this is the most important part of any live recording. Sadly, there are live recordings out there that are not bootlegs, yet their audio and video mixes are either slightly or completely out of balance, leaving listeners to wonder how experienced the engineer(s) behind the board was/were. Luckily for fans of Iced Earth and for the band itself, that can’t be questioned in the case of Live in Ancient Kourion. The mix is expertly balanced both on this recording. Hearing the pyrotechnics go off on the audio portion is one thing. But hearing and seeing it throughout the video portion makes the experience all the greater, whether this marks the first time for fortieth seeing Iced Earth live. Being that this is the most important factor of all in this and any live recording, it goes without saying that Iced Earth fans and that members of the Metal Nation the world over have in this release a concert recording that definitely lives up to the reputation of being one of the year’s best live recordings.
Getting into the actual performance, one can’t help but marvel at the ability of current front man Stu Block to carry a career’s worth of music from this band. Considering the number of singers that have fronted Iced Earth, he shows in his performance that this doesn’t factor at all. He shows full confidence throughout the near two and a half hour, twenty-seven song set. Just as incredible is that this far into the band’s career, Bloc’s band mates show no sign of rust or age. The songs are just as full of power as they were when the band’s original lineup first recorded them. Once again, the only thing left to say in taking into account the band’s stamina along with the recording quality and packaging is that this performance is Iced Earth at its live best. It is one of the best live recordings of the year both in the metal community and in general. It is available now both in stores and online and can be ordered direct online from the Century Media Records store at http://www.cmdistro.com/Item/Iced_Earth_-_Live_In_Ancient_Kourion_-2CD+DVD_Digi-/44761.
Fans overseas will get to see Iced Earth live this Summer and into 2014, even after picking up this new live release as it tours in support of Live in Ancient Kourion. Fans around the world can keep up with all of the band’s latest tour updates and news when they “Like” Iced Earth on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/OfficialIcedEarth. Fans can also follow the band on its official website, http://www.icedearth.com.
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