Live review by Rob Kachluba; Concert Photos by Adam Wills
On fairly mild Monday night Sean Palmerston and I made the trek down to Toronto’s Phoenix Concert Theatre to see Warbringer, Symphony X and Iced Earth do a nice triple bill. We arrived at 7:30 just as Warbringer took to the stage. I was quite surprised to see the venue nicely packed so early on and these Ventura, CA thrashers did not disappoint. Opening with “Living Weapon” off of their newest album Worlds Torn Asunder, their brand of Exodus-inspired thrash metal left a big grin on my face. The quintet was a slight messy at first but the energy from the stage could not be denied. John Laux is a solid frontman with great in between song banter that could be right from 1986. They plowed through a quick 25 minute set and were welcomed with open arms. Of note, the drummer was super tight with cool fills and some swanky stick twirls. I was impressed enough that I proceeded to go to the merch table to nab a vinyl and 7 inch single.
Next up on this co-headline tour was New Jersey prog metal vets Symphony X. I’ve been following the band since 1997’s Divine Wings of Tragedy and was caught off guard when they proceeded to play the whole Iconoclast album from start to finish, which I thought was odd and even more odd when you consider they were just asking fans on their facebook page a few months ago to help pick there set list. Granted, it is a great album but I tend to lose interest when too much of the same thing. They should of delved more into their great history. They have released many great CDs, they could have given the fans more of a mixture. Front man Russel Allen sure can sing and really works the crowd. The band were really enjoying themselves and happy to be playing to a good sized crowd of around 700. Michael Romeo showed why he is one of the better guitarists in the metal scene with his Malmsteen-like licks and solos.Overall this was a very good performance but I would Have liked them to see them mix it up a bit more set list-wise than they did.
The final act of the night was Iced Earth. I was really curious to see them with Stu Block on vocals, he of Into Eternity Fame. They came out a blazing take of “Dystopia”, the lead cut of the new album of the same name. Like a mixture of Ripper Owens and Matt Barlow, Stu really felt comfortable belting out old and new songs alike. Frankly, the Ripper-era stuff sounded fantastic. Stu handles the Barlow stuff quite good as well but maybe lacks the emotion of Barlow, who for me will always be the best singer Iced Earth ever had. The band sounded tight as hell with, maybe a bit too much treble on the guitars, but this didn’t stop them from playing a great mixture of old and new. “Declaration Day”, “Damien”, “When the Night Falls”, “Stand Alone”, “Angels Holocaust” and the massive epic “Dantes Inferno” were performed flawlessly. Stu hitting notes only a dog could hear.
Overall this was a very good night for metal.