Reviewed: September 1999
Released: 1999, Century Media
Not since Slayer’s Live Decade of Aggression has a live CD really excited me. Face it, we’ve all heard the songs before, and in some cases better done. That said however, Alive in Athens is definitely a keeper and one that will find it’s way into my CD player often. The sound quality is amazing and the band are in TOP form – vocalist Mathew Barlow proves that he really has the ability to flawlessly pull off all the material live without missing a note. The fan reaction sounds genuine – not like overdubbed cheering from some packed football game like many other bands have used.
For those new to the band or looking for an introduction, Iced Earth’s “Days of Purgatory” has thus far severed as an excellent starting point for what Iced Earth are all about. Now potential fans, and of course us Iced Earth FREAKS, have the real deal. Recorded in two nights on January the 23rd and 24th 1999, Alive In Athens offers prospective fans a perfect cross section of Iced Earth’s material spanning all their releases. From the awesome thrash staccato riffing on Stormrider, to the soulful vocals of The Hunter and the excellently titled My Own Savior all bases are covered. This CD is about songs, not the individuals. There are no drum solos or “stand-alone” guitar solos that you find on some live CD’s. Iced Earth incorporate their abilities into the music and don’t need to show off between songs. With a band like Iced Earth this makes sense, after all this in not a guitar-god project. Unfortunately, the dialogue is a little light between songs. I prefer to have the majority of the songs introduced and if possible I like to hear something about the song or whatever. Iced Earth, although short on talk, are above par where it counts – the music, and they plow through their best material like there’s no tomorrow. If you’re lucky enough to pick up the European version of Alive In Athens you get an extra disc (see below for full track listings). One thing that stands out on the CD as a whole is the devotion of the Greece fans. It’s not hard to pick up on their excitement and enthusiasm between songs and in places where you hear them singing along. They clearly are more than familiar with all the material and it’s not hard to see why Iced Earth chose Athens as the place to capture the band at it’s best with some of it’s most dedicated fans. My only criticism of the whole thing would be that for some songs it sounds like they could of took the studio tracks and overdubbed the crowd reactions from the real concert because the songs rarely stray from the original versions. That aside, this is still a gift from the band to their true fans. This folks is what 90’s metal is all about!! Iced Earth are one of the very few bands that us in North America can still be proud of. As vocalist Matthew Barlow says on the end of the CD – “Fucking heavy metal…right here.”
Alive In Athens – Track listing:
CD 1 – ‘Burning Times’, ‘Vengeance Is Mine’, ‘Pure Evil’, ‘My Own Savior’, ‘Melancholy (Holy Martyr)’, ‘Dante’s Inferno’, ‘The Hunter’, ‘Travel In Stygian’, ‘Slave To The Dark’, ‘A Question of Heaven.’
CD 2 – ‘The Dark Saga’, ‘Last Laugh’, ‘Last December’, ‘Watching Over Me’, ‘Angels Holocaust’, ‘Stormrider’, ‘Path I Choose’, ‘I Died For You’, ‘Prophecy’, ‘Birth Of The Wicked’, ‘The Coming Curse’, ‘Iced Earth.’
CD 3 (European version only) – ‘Stand Alone’, ‘Cast In Stone’, ‘Desert Rain’, ‘Brainwashed’, ‘Disciples Of The Lie’, ‘When The Night Falls’, ‘Diary’, ‘Blessed Are You’, ‘Violate’.
The 3-CD set is ONLY readily available from Europe. HOWEVER, Century Media mailorder is selling it online at www.centurymedia.com
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