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Iced Earth: The Glorious Burden

History? A metal album about … history? Why!

The Glorious Burden starts with a 1-minute metal rendering of "The Star Spangled Banner" and moves smoothly into" Declaration Day". Then the vocals start up – and they sound immediately familiar. Matt Barlow has left Iced earth and the new vocalist is ex-Judas Priest frontman, Tim "Ripper" Owens. Tim recorded the vocals for the album before officially joining the band, and his influence is immediately apparent. Not in the songwriting, credit for that goes to Jon Schaffer, but in his singing and his incredible energy. In fact Tim probably sounds better on this recording than on any Judas Priest CD.

This is a theme album, exploring historical wars. Band boss Jon Schaffer is a history buff who also owns a historical memorabilia store called Spirit of '76 Collectibles . The song titles make it clear that the subject matter includes Waterloo, WW-I, Atilla, 9/11/2001 ("When The Eagle Cries"), and of course the Civil War. It's as well that the titles spell that out because an examination of the lyrics don't always describe the subject matter – and on some tracks they are deeply poetic but frankly fail to convey their message. "Valley Forge" is a notable exception, and is a critical look at today's society in the eyes of a struggling soldier in the US War Of Independence.

The magnum opus "Gettysburg 1863" is the reason you'll buy this album. It is a 32-minute epic comprising three parts, which represent events on each of the three days of the Battle of Gettysburg – Buford's 'defense in depth', Chamberlain's sacrificial stand at Little Round Top, and Pickett's famous , fateful charge. It starts with another rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner", then an elegant acoustic guitar and a piccolo float over snare drums and you can just visualize the rank and file marching down Emmitsburg Road. The music is well sectioned with many changes in tempo and will keep your attention for the full half-hour, and occasional passages from tunes like "America The Beautiful", and "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" are well integrated into the overall composition and help narrate the story line. The Prague Philharmonic Orchestra is used on "Gettysburg", and the blend of metal and orchestra is seamless.

"Gettysburg" is probably the only piece on the album that could really be called progressive. The lyrics on are particularly good, and the martial and the personal conflicts are well portrayed. The heart-wrenching second part starts with Tim's emotive voice in ballad-mode, singing:
Just a mile or so away
Is my dearest friend in this world.
He wears the Blue and I the Grey
And God it hurts me so…

Listening to The Glorious Burden prompted a read of the new Gettysburg novel by Newt Gingrich, and that in turn prompted a recent re-visit to the battle fields of Gettysburg. And that's why there's now a metal album about history. Schaffer's objective was to get people back in touch with our collective past.

Hey, Jon, it worked!

Track Listing
1. Star Spangeld Banner (01:15)
2. Declaration Day (05:01)
3. When The Eagle Cries (04:09)
4. The Reckoning (Don't Tread On (04:58)
5. Greenface (03:04)
6. Attila (05:38)
7. Red Baron / Blue Max (04:06)
8. Hollow Man (04:27)
9. Valley Forge (04:48)
10.Waterloo (05:51)
11.When The Eagle Cries (Unplugged) (03:36)
12.Gettysburg 1863 (31:57) :
- Part i: The Devil To Pay (12:14)
- Part ii: Hold At All Costs (07:08)
- Part iii: High Water Mark (12:35)
Total Time : (78:49)

Added: January 21st 2004
Reviewer: Duncan Glenday
Score:
Related Link: Iced Earth's Web Site
Hits: 3073
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Iced Earth: The Glorious Burden
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2008-02-18 15:30:03
My Score:

The new Iced Earth CD has just made its appearance on the shelves. The most visible change for the band has been the addition of new Lead Singer Tim "Ripper" Owens. As all metal fans probably know by now, Ripper was the replacement for Rob Halford in Judas Priest. When Halford returned Tim was free to pursue other bands. While I liked him as a fill in when Rob was not there to play, I feel he is better suited to Iced Earth. Given Ripper's voice is so "Halford-like" there are many times when one listens to this CD and would think it is Judas Priest or Fight for that matter. This is unavoidable when your singer has this style to his vocals. Whether or not Ripper has just recorded the vocals on this album as a fill in guy, or whether he is a new fulltime member remains to be seen. It is my hope that he does stay, and given that I see some tour dates for my immediate area over the next couple of months, I am thinking this is a new step for him.

There is some solid metal on this CD. A wide variety of styles are present on it in the various tunes that encompass the piece. For instance, the album launches with a rousing metallized rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner". Being an American Man, I was unsure whether to salute or raise my fist into the air while it played. I give them credit for pulling this out of their hat. Declaration Day has a really solid groove to it. Then there is 'When The Eagle Cries'. This piece is a post 9-11-2001 reflection. The video that Iced Earth made for it is full of images from that terrible day. As a New Yorker who knew many people affected by this tragic act of terrorism I felt this piece was done with a sense of honor and respect. Moving on, "Don't Tread On Me" is definately a power number that reminded me so much of 'Painkiller' era Priest that I had to double-check the CD playing was still Iced Earth. There is also some killer drumming by Christy on this one.

Comprising the final portion of the CD is 'Gettysburg 1863'. This is an excellent 3 part opus. I recommend that Listeners also refer to the booklet to read some of the comments by Jon Schaffer on the extra historical background. The CD Booklet is also very nicely laid out. A full 24 pages with lyrics for all the songs, and some intensive liner notes from guitarist Jon Schaffer about how his fascination for American History and the Civil War primarily was the premise of the new album. There are many beautiful painted images on the inside on the page that follows each track. The pictures depict a little of what the song is about. I was very pleased with this as it added to the total enjoyment of the piece.

All in all when reviewing this piece I feel that Schaffer and Company (Ripper, James MacDonough and Richard Christy) have given us a worthy release for our stereo to blast. Be aware that there is also a deluxe edition of this release with 2 CD's and additional tracks that I have not discussed here.


Iced Earth: The Glorious Burden
Posted by Jedd Beaudoin, SoT Staff Writer on 2004-01-28 16:56:37
My Score:

Jon Schaffer's obsession with history has not gone unnoticed and now, on The Glorious Burden, the Iced Earth leader cuts open history and lets it bleed, taking listeners from the birth of a nation ("Declaration Day") to several moments of crisis ("Gettysburg (1863)," "When The Eagle Cries"), proving that it's the resolve of humankind and not necessarily nations that carries us through (and often) over the flesh-hungry flames of history. With Tim Owens belting out vocals to tracks such as "Hollow Man" and "Attila" with newfound force, The Glorious Burden displays once more Iced Earth's unstoppable power. Still, despite profound performances, it's clear that this lineup hasn't yet hit its full stride ("Red Baron/Blue Max" holds this disc a notch from lightning-eating, thunder-crapping glory), but with Owens showing more emotional diversity than during his tenure in Judas Priest and drummer Richard Christy beating out time so precisely that you can set your watch to it, there's clearly plenty of uncharted terrain for this band to cover.

Jedd Beaudoin

jrbwriter@yahoo.com

Iced Earth: The Glorious Burden
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2004-01-26 19:44:36
My Score:

There's a good chance that at the end of 2004, when everyone is thinking about their "best of" lists, that Iced Earth just might come to mind when considering not only a band with one of the strongest releases of the year, but perhaps one of the most improved groups of 2004. Now, I know that I am saying a lot for a CD that just came out in early January, but The Glorious Burden is that damn good, and Iced Earth as a band seem so much more powerful, invigorated, and hungry with former Judas Priest belter Tim "Ripper" Owens on lead vocals. The Ripper's shrieks on the driving "Declaration Day" help lift that song to extended heights, becoming an Iced Earth anthem complete with heavy riffs, unison guitar lines, a catchy chorus, and Owens' trademark wailings. As much as the vocalist brings his trademark style to this new Iced Earth platter, I get a sense of passion and confidence in his voice here that I had never heard on any of the albums he performed with Judas Priest. Perhaps because on The Glorious Burden, Owens actually sings rather than just scream. For instance, listen to his tender yet powerful passages on "When the Eagle Cries", or his forceful and thematic stylings on the symphonic and progressive magnum-opus "Gettysburg (1863)", a song that at over 30 minutes long is one of the most adventurous and mature pieces of work that Jon Schaffer has ever written. The addition of an orchestra, flutes, and keyboards, along with excellent lyrics dealing with the Civil War, help make this one of the best prog-metal epics I have heard in a long while.

There's plenty of metal muscle here as well, as on the rampaging "The Reckoning (Don't Tread on Me)", the mosh-pit directed "Greenface", or the maniacal "Red Baron/Blue Max", a song where Owens pulls out all the stops and hits the highest registers he can possibly muster. Other gems include the meditative yet melodic "Hollow Man", the doomy "Attila", and the classy early 80's style metal of "Waterloo." Iced Earth have managed to create an album that will stand the test of time alongside classic metal albums from Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and Metallica, and in fact, had The Glorious Burden been released in 1983, we would now be talking about this band in the same breath as those legends. Highly recommended!

Pete Pardo
pardo@frontiernet.net


Iced Earth: The Glorious Burden
Posted by Michael Popke, SoT Staff Writer on 2004-01-26 16:34:00
My Score:

There comes a time in a band's life when, to borrow from the battles theme that pervades Iced Earth's seventh studio album, it must either lay down its weapons or persevere against strong odds and kick some major ass. That time has arrived for Iced Earth, which after ditching longtime singer Matthew Barlow, delayed the release of The Glorious Burden until early 2004 — giving band mastermind Jon Schaffer time to snag ex-Judas Priest throat Tim Owens and allow him to leave his vocal scars all over the metal battleground that is The Glorious Burden.


The music on this record will likely be some of the most melodic and potent metal you'll hear this year, and many songs truly exemplify all that is decent about the genre: Monster rhythms, flexible vocals, intelligent lyrics, fluid melodies, screaming guitars and just a touch of pretension. Such tracks as "Declaration Day" (a rousing ode to America's Founding Fathers and the Declaration of Independence), "When the Eagle Cries" (an American vow of revenge for the events of September 11, 2001) and "The Reckoning (Don't Tread on Me)" (a Blind Guardian-influenced diatribe against all of the world's injustices) sound immediately familiar but still manage to peel back new layers with each listen. Owens, meanwhile, doesn't pretend to sound like Barlow; hell, he doesn't even sound like Owens. Rather, the singer lets his voice go where the songs take him, giving extraordinary performances that make his shrieks on "Attila" and the filler track "Red Baron/Blue Max" just as appealing as his resonating down-to-earth voice on "Valley Forge" and "Hollow Man." (Barlow, incidentally, is credited with singing backing vocals, although which tracks he appears on is not clear to listeners.)


The 32-minute epic "Gettysburg (1863)" is easily the most ambitious piece of music Schaffer has ever composed, taking listeners through a medley of emotions both sonically and psychologically via his detailed and informative annotations in the elegant CD booklet that accompanies The Glorious Burden. Chronicling three days of the American Civil War, "Gettysburg" deserves credit for educating listeners about what history buff Schaffer calls "the heaviness" of that watershed historical event without insulting their intelligence. Likewise, The Glorious Burden as a whole inspires patriotism without preaching or pandering.


Schaffer has gone on record saying that "history should be the most important thing kids learn in school besides algebra." If a high school history teacher would have the balls to play The Glorious Burden — or even just "Gettysburg" — for his or her students, kids would find out that Iced Earth makes learning about history a hell of a lot more fun (and important) than algebra could ever be.

Michael Popke
mpopke@spwl.net




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