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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
Related Link: Iced Earth's Web Site
Hits: 6288
Language: english

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