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ICED EARTH ‘The Glorious Burden ’
(SPV 08574972) (2004)

This album marks the debut of former Judas Priest vocalist Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens. I am a lifelong Judas Priest fan and never took to ‘Ripper’ Owens sub-Halford wail (bar the excellent ‘Cathedral Spires’) and approached this with some trepidation. But this proved groundless as ‘Ripper’ Owens comes into his own and free of expectations he carves his own vocal niche. Guitarist Jon Schaffer was keen to recruit Owens and it has paid off.

The album’s lyrics are based in history, usually the bloody kind like ‘Attila’ (as in Attila the Hun) and ‘Waterloo’ (not thankfully a cover of the Abba track!). Plenty of guitar as you’d expect with Ralph Santolla also helping out. Plenty to enjoy including ‘Declaration Day’ with gang vocals and crisp guitar riffing. ‘When The Eagle Cries’ is a brooding number and a 9/11 tribute, which the band manage to carry off with conviction. Only ‘The Reckoning’ sees Owens back in Priest mode vocally and it’s the weakest track on here for me personally. ‘Hollow Man’ slows it right down and enters Maiden territory in the acoustic bridge/gang chorus construction. Definitely an album highlight.

Centrepiece is the epic ‘Gettysburg (1863)’ with full orchestration and the track broken down into three sections, each covering a key moment in the battle. A definite highlight here is the drums - big and bold, right up in the mix. The orchestration adds to the overall sound and heaviness, with some stunning guitar work.

Could be well the album to take the band up another level. Essential for all metal fans!

Related>>Label website


Review by Jason Ritchie

***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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