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Review: Iced Earth - The Glorious Burden
Iced Earth
The Glorious Burden

Label: SPV
Year released: 2004
Duration: 69:20
Tracks: 12
Genre: Heavy Metal

Rating: 4.25/5

Review online: January 4, 2005
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Readers Rating
The Glorious Burden

Rated 3.93/5 (78.6%) (57 Votes)

I will say right up front here that I have never been an Iced Earth fan. They have all the stuff I normally like: crunchy guitars, fantasy lyrics etc, but I just have never been able to get into them. Turns out it was mostly Matt Barlow, who always made me want to turn the music off. I know he has a lot of fans, but I could never stand him in the slightest. This album, the seventh in a lengthy discography, became one of the more controversial albums of 2004. With the equally controversial 'Ripper' Owens on vocals, some fans rejected this out of hand as a pile of crap, while others raved about it being the album of the year.

Maybe not comparing this to other Iced Earth albums I can get a clearer impression of it, I don't know, but I think this is pretty damned good. I'm no blind patriot, but I think a concept album about American history is a pretty cool idea, and it's carried off well. Schaeffer may not be quite as good a songwriter as he would like to be, and his compositions don't quite match his ambition, but I applaud him for the creative effort it took to write this album, and it has produced some great metal music. "The Glorious Burden" is a bit pretentious, and it isn't all gold, but there are some great songs here. "Declaration Day" smokes, as does "The Reckoning" and "Valley Forge" – all crunchy exercises in thrashy Heavy Metal goodness. "Attila" is a good song, even if it doesn't seem to have anything thematically to do with the rest of the album. "Hollow Man" is the obligatory power ballad, but it has a good catchy chorus. "Red Baron" was co-written by Owens, and it shows, because Tim only knows how to write the one vocal line, where he starts low and then goes up an octave, starts low and octaves up, every time he writes a chorus it sounds just like that, like "Jugulator". At least this is a good song, and the fact that I've heard this chorus before doesn't make it suck this time. There are some not so good songs on here too: the weepy "When The Eagle Cries" and the dull "Green Face", but these are minor clinkers.

The "Gettysburg" trilogy has gotten the most press, and I have to say that on first listen I thought it was rather dull – mostly slow to midpaced, with nothing that really grabbed me at first spin. But repeated listens opened this work up, and I heard more and more complexity and emotion the more attention I gave it. So it took a bit of time and effort, but I will say this three-piece epic is just as good as Schaeffer wanted it to be. It's very powerful and moving if you give it the time it needs.

I won't say "The Glorious Burden" is the album of the year or anything, but I saw it get a lot of pastings it does not deserve. Despite much fanboy griping, Owens does a great job with the vocals, and the music is as strong as the subject demands. Overall this is a good album, enjoyable and well-done, but the addition of the monolithic "Gettysburg" trilogy elevates this whole CD to a more artistic and ambitious plane. I would recommend this album to any and all fans of US Heavy Metal.

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