Iced Earth - The Glorious Burden

Year of Release: 2004
Label: SPV
Catalog Number: 2147483647
Format: CD
Total Time: 00:00:00

There was so much hype leading up to this release: It would be a metal concept album about the Civil War, a full orchestra would be in support, and Matt Barlow had been replaced with new a frontman. So it was with high expectations that I received The Glorious Burden for review. I mean ? it should sound like Symphony X meets Rhapsody, right?

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 you realize you've heard this before. It's not Symphony X meets Rhapsody, it's Iron Maiden meets Judas Priest. And guess what? 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, but in the singing and the incredible energy. This album is pure metal, with power-metal and progressive elements. If you're any kind of metal-head, you'll love it. If you're a pure proggie, consider this only if you liked the NWOBHM.

Contrary to earlier indications, it is not a concept album ? but rather a theme album that explores historical wars. Band boss Jon Schaffer is a history buff who also owns a historical memorabilia store called Spirit of '76 Collectibles . (The store's name was chosen for 1976, the bicentennial year). The song titles make it clear that the subject matter includes Waterloo, WW-I, Atilla, and of course the Civil War. It's just 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. Cheesy to some but it struck the right chord with me. Musically the best tracks are ?When The Eagle Cries," ?Hollow Man," and ?The Reckoning."

But the highlight is the magnum opus ?Gettysburg 1863," which could almost have been released as an album on its own. 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 stand at Little Round Top, and Pickett's 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 Tim's vocals enter ? quickly followed by the full metal instrumentation. It is well sectioned with many changes in tempo and will keep your attention for the full half-hour. The renditions of songs 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. This is probably the only piece on the album that could really be called progressive. The lyrics of "Gettysburg"> are particularly good, and the martial and the personal conflicts are well portrayed. The heart-wrenching second part starts with:

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?

A DVD is in the works ? a first for the Iced Earth. Besides the songs themselves it will include a documentary on the Gettysburg battle, the making of the album, and working with the Orchestra.

It seems that this is the era for metal bands to almost make a comeback. Queensryche's Tribe was very good, but it's no Operation Mindcrime. Iron Maiden's Dance Of Death was good, but it's no Seventh Son. And Iced earth's The Glorious Burden is very good, but it's no Burnt Offerings ? which remains the jewel in their discography.

But damn, that Gettysburg piece is good!

Star Spangled Banner (01:15) / Declaration Day (05:01) / When The Eagle Cries (04:09) / The Reckoning (Don't Tread On (04:58) / Greenface (03:04) / Attila (05:38) / Red Baron / Blue Max (04:06) / Hollow Man (04:27) / Valley Forge (04:48) / Waterloo (05:51) / When The Eagle Cries (Unplugge (03:36) / (Gettysburg 1863) The Devil To Pay (12:14) / (Gettysburg 1863) Hold At All Costs (07:08) / (Gettysburg 1863) High Water Mark (12:35)

Tim 'Ripper' Owens - vocals
Jon Schaffer ? guitars
Ralph Santolla ? guitars
James MacDonough ? bass
Richard Christy ? drums

Iced Earth (1991)
Night Of The Stormrider (1992)
Burnt Offerings (1995)
The Dark Saga (1996)
Days Of Purgatory (1997/2003)
Something Wicked This Way Comes (1998)
The Melancholy EP (1999/2001)
Alive In Athens (1999)
Horror Show (2001)
Tribute To The Gods (2002)
The Reckoning (EP) (2004)
Glorious Burden (2004)
The Blessed And The Damned (2004)
Overture Of The Wicked (2007)
Framing Armageddon (Something Wicked Part 1) (2007)
The Crucible Of Man - Something Wicked Part 2 (2008)
The Plagues EP (2013)
Live In Ancient Kourion (2013)
Plagues Of Babylon (2014)
Incorruptible (2017)

Alive In Athens (DVD) (2007)
Gettysburg (1863) (DVD) (2005)
Live In Ancient Kourion (2013)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin US

Added: January 11th 2004
Reviewer: Duncan N Glenday
Artist website:
Hits: 1539
Language: english


[ Back to Reviews Index | Post Comment ]