Iced Earth - Alive In Athens
Century Media
Pure Ripping Heavy Metal!
Disc 1: 10 songs (65.50) Disc 2: 12 songs (64.45) Disc 3: 9 songs (49.32)
Release year: 1999
Iced Earth, Century Media
Reviewed by Aleksie
Seeing that my favourite album of all time was missing from the database, I had only one choice. My first review would be about the greatest live album and greatest album in general in the history of recorded music – at least to me. The unbelievable piece of history that is Iced Earth´s Alive In Athens. I must warn you, I will use many grandiose words and be foolishly swaggering here, but if one album deserves it, it is this one.

I love live albums. I love to hear my favourite bands rip through their classics in a live situation, when a band is most vulnerable. I don´t mind when live albums have mistakes in them, it just shows that the bands making divine music are only humans like us. But listening to Alive In Athens makes one genuinely wonder if Matthew Barlow, Jon Schaffer, James MacDonough, Larry Tarnowski, Brent Smedley and Rick Risberg are from this galaxy. Of course most of the praise should go to the inhumanly awesome song writing abilities of Mr. Schaffer (a personal idol and example in integrity, talent and faith to myself, no matter what any of you might say about his character and ways of leading his own band), but the performances on this album are frighteningly good.

"I knew that when the time would come that I would not want it to be just another live record, I wanted it to be special. I wanted it to be alive with intensity and alive with the attitude of actually being at an Iced Earth show."

That is a short quotation of Jon Schaffer´s message inside the sleeve of disc 1, and Jon could not have said it any better. The emotion, the intensity and the power on this record are unlike any other I have heard from any other band or artist. Recorded on January 23rd and 24th at The Rodon in Athens, Greece, this record truly makes you feel that you were among the 5000+ metalheads that were banging their heads and necks into oblivion and shouting their collective lungs out on those nights. The very special thing about those nights was that IE played completely different sets on both nights. This was made to of course please the extremely loyal Greek fans, but to make the live album a good overview of the bands entire career. This is one of the many facts that make this album so special and great.

From the early thrash-injected chunks of mayhem like Travel In Stygian, Path I Choose and Cast In Stone, to the more peaceful, but equally fist-raising half-ballads I Died For You and Blessed Are You, the band and fans feed energy off each other to raise the atmosphere to heavenly heights. IE´s complex mixture of old school metal, bombastic power metal and nasty thrash is played with such precision that it must be heard to be believed. The audience is simply put – rabid. From singing along beautifully with my favourite “throatmaster” of all time, Matthew “The Ultimate Vocal God” Barlow on the painfully beautiful masterpieces Melancholy (Holy Martyr), A Question Of Heaven and Watching Over Me, to shouting with seething rage and power on the “mastermoshers” like Stormrider, Stand Alone and Violate, the listener would have to be deaf and emotionless not to feel the strength and energy that surrounded The Rodon on those nights. Every time the band holds a short break between songs the audience begins chanting “Iced Earth, Iced Earth” with crazed passion. They make 5000 people sound like 100000 with amazing ease. That is simply what Iced Earth can do to their fans.
The track listing is near perfect. From their early classics to playing their latest (latest at the time of the concerts, that is) album, the equally-divine Something Wicked This Way Comes in almost it´s entirety - including the epic of all epic´s, the Something Wicked Trilogy – everything represents the different stages of the band´s progress in an excellent way. Every fan of the band should be extremely pleased. The only addition I would have added would have been the scorching Burnt Offerings, but with this monster of an album, I choose to refrain from this petty detail.

All of this could be ruined by the one trap that many live albums fall into – poor sound quality. But not here, oh no. The sounds are crystal clear and every instrument is balanced perfectly in the mix with the god-like vocals. Even the “choirs from the depths of hell” chanting in the middle of the gargantuan metal mastery of Dante´s Inferno cut through the music and into your spinal cord causing major shivering.
Simply put, this is one of those albums that I cannot say a bad word about. I hope that everyone would be able to get the European version of this album that has the 3rd bonus disc as well. Not that the 2-CD U.S. version would be no good, but this 3-CD bulk is what makes it stand out even more from most live albums.
For when I had listened this album through for the first time, when Violate came to an end with the great humorous closing moment of the legendary intro riff of Maiden´s The Trooper, I had experienced 31 songs and nearly 3 hours of flawless, unbridled Heavy Metal. I had always thought that sheer perfection in music was impossible, that something always had to be “only good” in a batch of mostly “perfect” things. Fortunately this album enlightened me. If we quoted live albums, this would be 100+/100. Buy Or Die!

Killing Songs :
Every single one of the Iced Earth masterpieces concealed within these 3 holy discs!
Aleksie quoted CLASSIC
Other albums by Iced Earth that we have reviewed:
Iced Earth - Dystopia reviewed by Goat and quoted 83 / 100
Iced Earth - Iced Earth reviewed by Storm and quoted 48 / 100
Iced Earth - Night Of The Stormrider reviewed by Storm and quoted 99 / 100
Iced Earth - The Crucible of Man - Something Wicked Part 2 reviewed by Aleksie and quoted 90 / 100
Iced Earth - Burnt Offerings reviewed by Storm and quoted 98 / 100
To see all 15 reviews click here
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