Iced Earth - The Glorious Burden review
|Album:||The Glorious Burden|
|Release date:||January 2004|
01. Star-Spangled Banner
02. Declaration Day
03. When The Eagle Cries
04. The Reckoning (Don't Tread On Me)
07. Red Baron/Blue Max
08. Hollow Man
09. Valley Forge
11. When The Eagle Cries [acoustic version]
Disc II [Gettysburg 1863]
01. The Devil To Pay
02. Hold At All Costs
03. High Water Mark
The Glorious Burden is an album of change in so many ways. Not surprisingly the biggest change is the one of vocal duties. Matthew Barlow, frontman and vocalist since 1995 is no longer a member of Iced Earth and this album is the start of the Tim "Ripper" Owens (ex-Wintersbane, Judas Priest) era. Another big change is the one of the music itself, or rather the theme of the music. The dark, gothic touch that has characterized Iced Earth's sound and lyrics has been exchanged for a historical theme. Before listening to the album I was a bit skeptical about this but it turned out great.
If you've had the pleasure of hearing any of their preceding albums you know what to expect musically. As stated in the band-profile you could describe it as Dark Heavy Metal as it draws heavily from thrash-metal. There are still a lot of melody and power metal-influences in there to make it stand out even further. I bought the Special Edition here in Europe and it starts out with "Star Spangled Banner", a great intro for the classic Iced Earth song "Declaration Day". These two songs along with "When the Eagle Cries" might look patriotic on the paper but the songs are all plain great. Through the rest of the album the listener gets to experience everything from the hunnic invasion to the battle of waterloo.
The song writing is what's to be expected from an Iced Earth release but nothing revolutionary in any way. Standouts are "Declaration Day", "The Reckoning" and "Waterloo", all sounding fresh but still very much Iced Earth. How does Owens handle the vocals then? He does it strikingly good! He's nothing like Matt but I see that as an advantage as it adds to the "fresh-factor". From the first verse to the last he has the listener on their toes and he fits the song writing perfectly. Assuming you aren't a Barlow fanatic you can prepare to be blown away. Don't stop reading just yet because the best is still left!
The second disc of this album is made up of a three piece epic under the name of "Gettysburg (1863)" and is some of the best music ever written by Jon Schaffer. These three songs are worth the price of the album alone, that's how good they are. Describing the battle of Gettysburg the music is dramatic and symphonic with lyrics describing the events very emotionally. You've heard the description before: imagine a film-score crossed with heavy metal. Don't get me wrong, it's nothing like the film-score metal of Rhapsody of Fire. Gettysburg was created from a musicians love for history and the result is a jaw-dropping, thoughtful, dramatic and emotional tribute to the important historical event. Probably the best possible tribute ever made in this form.
The production is above average and the artwork is very beautiful. The main disc is classic Iced Earth with a historical twist. The lyrics are great but it lacks in originality and I miss a standout guitar-solo. The second disc is what really makes this album worth buying with some of the bands best music. If you're new to the band, be sure you know that this is not like their other albums but still a good album. If you've been a fan for a longer time you have probably already bought the album but if not I can assure you'll find a lot of interesting things about this release.
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