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Iced Earth | Glorious Burden | review | metal | Lollipop

Iced Earth

The Glorious Burden (SPV)
By Daniel Lukes

Sometimes you can ignore a band's particular brand of politics, brush them aside and get down to appreciating the music. Other times, and this is the case of Iced Earth, the band have no intention of letting you bypass their "message," and The Glorious Burden is one of those albums which doesn't stop at merely letting you know how Jon Schaffer and co. feel about current (or historical) world events, but feels the need to ram that "burden" down your throat, over and over again. With us or against us, right? OK…

Opening up with a geetar rendition of "Star Spangled Banner" is one way of polarizing your audience, but "When The Eagle Cries" is surely the place where this album risks crossing over into Unintentional Comedy Land, depending on your own stance and world view. Did you witness John Ashcroft crooning a self-penned number called "Let The Eagle Soar" in Fahrenheit 9/11? Well, think of a heavy metal version of that. Elsewhere, we get rallying cries to vengeance ("The Reckoning (Don't Tread On Me)") and a slew of heavily slanted heavy metal musings on Gettysburg, Attila, and other choice historical figures and moments, mostly centered around the Civil War. Iced Earth at what they do best, in other words.

Now featuring former Judas Priest interim frontman Tim "Ripper" Owens on vocals, who replaces long-time singer Matt Barlow, you can't find fault with the band's - and this means guitarist/band leader Jon Schaffer's - passion and erudition (and obsession), whatever your own leanings, and the CD booklet even ends with an advert for the man's war model/miniatures/collectibles store in Columbus, Indiana.

From a sonic point of view however, Iced Earth version 2004, sound like they are going through their Priest-meets-Metallica power metal motions at their most formulaic, and The Glorious Burden, on the whole, is merely a competent, complacent album which opts to purr gently in the background in heard-it-all-before fashion rather than roaring like a beast, as Iced Earth have done in the past. Which, given the fiery subject matter at hand, is something of a bummer.

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