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AUGUST.11.2007

ICED EARTH - 70,000 STRONG At WACKEN.

By Mark Grommen of BWBK and Metal Maniacs

Jon - WackenWacken signalled the third and final Iced Earth appearance of the festival season (following Sweden Rock and Rockwave, in Greece) and was a prelude to their supporting Heaven & Hell throughout the UK and a full Euro-headling tour this Fall. If this is any indication, I might have to jump a plan back to the continent, especially since it will be a while before any North American dates! Despite starting a half hour after midnight, the stage was a flurry of activity, with pulsating flame cannons lobbing fiery plumes ten feet into the air, showers of sparks and a "malfunctioning" (Jon Schaffer's word) projector shooting images across and around the stage. A crowd of 70,000 didn't seem to notice anything but a first rate performance, singing along to every song, even newly, or yet to be released, material (Oh, the power of the Internet): "Ten Thousand Strong" and "A Charge To Keep."

Although the day's temperatures had been warm, by showtime, we could see our breath! Schaffer was ready for the cold, wearing a floor-length leather duster, enjoying his surroundings but seemingly critiquing the performance as it unfolded. It was only the third show with the current line-up, and in such a prestigious and enormous venue. Tim Owens wandered the purple drenched stage, much more animated than in the past, punching the air when not perched with foot on the monitors. Living up to his 'Ripper' nickname, the sustain this man gets on some notes is amazing, particularly in the digital age, when vocal trickery can even be employed live. The set was heavy on DARK SAGA/SOMETHING WICKED material, including the latter's closing trilogy, "The Hunter," "Violate" and "Vengeance Is Mine," but for the die-hards there was also "Stormrider" and the signature track finale. Nice to see Brent Smedley behind the kit and "newboys"guitarist Troy Seele and Dennis Hayes (who also plays bass in Owen's Beyond Fear) were energetic, without making noticeable errors. Not that anyone would have heard any mis-notes over the thunderous audience ovations. Can't wait to hear both parts of FRAMING ARMAGEDDON live!

More of Mark's WACKEN photographs of ICED EARTH, can be seen here.

To see additional photos of several bands at WACKEN, visit these two galleries: Gallery 1 | Gallery 2

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Release dates for FRAMING ARMAGEDDON are as follows:

Germany - September 7, 2007.
All of Europe - September 10, 2007.
USA - September 11, 2007.