The long awaited DVD release for the Iced Earth opus "Gettysburg (1963)" has finally been released. This is an interesting piece on a few fronts when you take a look at it. In early 2004 Iced Earth released their Metal Masterpiece The Glorious Burden and this CD received a large amount of critical acclaim from Metaldom. One of the main reasons behind this albums overall success was not only the level of quality in the song-writing and musicianship, but also since this release would also feature Tim "Ripper" Owens on lead vocals. It was a good match and Metal fans around the world raised their fists in approval. The release covered a theme that was both Military and Historical. The signature track on the record was the 3 part epic "Gettysburg".
On DVD1 you get the "Gettysburg" video but be aware that is does not feature any members of Iced Earth performing or even images of the band for that matter. Instead you get a great CGI animation along with photographs of the key players in the Battle Of Gettysburg as well as site maps that are featured as the song plays in full. It seems that showing the band jamming along to the tune would have lessened the impact of the piece and John Schaffer is passionate about this subject and it's a certainty that it was put together in this manner instead. The next segment is a tour of the Gettysburg Battlefield site. In this segment you join Schaffer and tour guide Ted Gajewski who is a qualified expert in the location and gives you an intimate picture into key moments of the battle. Many of the monuments to the fallen are shown. Originally I was put off by the fact that Schaffer himself was not conducting the tour, but a recent interview with him had me discover that he did this to offer the best historical take on the battle and the circumstances around them. Sadly, those that expect this to simply be a music video DVD and pass on it as result will be missing the boat on something that was undertaken with great care. Schaffer wanted this to be as valuable to the fan of Iced Earth as he did the fan of History.
For those that like seeing the band in videos, you will enjoy the 2 items on DVD2. The video for "When The Eagle Cries" was denied exposure on MTV, and I remember watching it online via Yahoo Launch. The acoustic piece is reflective of the September 11th Tragedy and done very well. While it is a shame that it was censored from broadcast from MTV, I find little relevance in a network that is more interested in Rap videos and shows about their houses. Outside of Headbangers Ball, there is little Metal fans have to even tune in on the station. "The Reckoning" video features the full band in a standard Metal video shot. No nonsense delivery of music. The Interview segment with John Schaffer is interesting as you get a good look into the musicians mind and his feelings on the Glorious Burden record as well as a number of other topics. One of the special features is on his specialty shop The Spirit Of 76. This shop features collectibles and art based on historic figures in the armed forces and battles.
Fans of Iced Earth will enjoy this but they need to be open for the learning experience that also comes with this. It successfully combines a History Channel level of programming along with some excellent music. I would have liked for the group to include a live version of the song but perhaps a full concert piece is not to far away on the horizon. The packaging is also very detailed and will look impressive among your other music pieces.
Track Listing DVD 1 & 2
When The Eagle Cries
John Schaffer Interview