Originally written by Ryan Plunkett
To me, Iced Earth has been one of those bands that has generally consistently released solid albums, never anything to get all in a tizzy about, but enjoyable none-the-less. However, their last effort, Horror Show was a bit bland and disappointing. Between now and then, Iced Earth has lost vocalist Matt Barlow, but gained former Judas Priest frontman, Tim “Ripper” Owens. I was very curious to see where this would take the band. I enjoyed Matt as a frontman, but I think Tim fits in perfectly. With his strong presence, he seems to be fitting in better with Iced Earth than he ever did with Judas Priest.
With The Glorious Burden, Iced Earth takes on patriotism (the album starts out with a rendering of “The Star Spangled Banner” on guitar) and brings back the solid songwriting we know and love. Still not too much of a departure from previous efforts, main man/guitarist, Jon Schaffer has crafted a solid album, along with the epic bonus disc based on the Battle of Gettysburg. Now the main disc, is your typical Iced Earth album; fused together are Jon Schaffer’s typical galloping riffs, Richard Christy’s enjoyable drumming, and the ballad here and there (“When the Eagle Cries” and “Hollow Man”). However, it is with the addition of Tim Owens that this album more quickly demanded my attention. His performance commands your attention and has seemed to spark something new in the band. With strong leads and riffs that you cannot help but headbang to. My favorite album is still The Dark Saga, but this latest effort definitely tops the last two full-lengths in my mind. Not to mention the real bonus here is the second disc (which I’m not sure, but I believe it’s a Limited Edition type of thing). It includes three epic tracks adding up to about thirty minutes of extra music, based upon the three days of the Battle of Gettysburg. Each track features nice string arrangements, epic drumming, and powerful choir choruses. This disc alone almost makes this package worth buying.
If you thought Iced Earth was on the decline after their last release, I highly recommend you check back into this band. Although the huge spout of patriotism did get a bit overwhelming after a bit, it still does not detract from the strong songwriting drawn forth in the album. If you are an Iced Earth fan, you will not be disappointed and if you are new to Iced Earth, this is a good album to start out with. I highly recommend you get this with the bonus disc as it adds so much more to the overall feel. The Glorious Burden is an enjoyable effort from a solid band and a nice way to ring in the New Year.