Released: 2006, Century Media
Lots of controversy surrounding this release; Jon Schaeffer going out of his way to trash both it, and Century Media for releasing it. It’s kind of a slippery slope with this DVD as I’m sure just about any Iced Earth fan’s dream would be to have a DVD of the ALIVE IN ATHENS performance, seeing as it’s one of the best live releases you’re going to hear. Yet, while this DVD is somewhat of a fan’s dream come true Jon Schaeffer, among others, has commented on the technical quality of the release. That it’s below par and that fans should wait for a proper DVD release.
Well, the problem with that is that while this ALIVE IN ATHENS DVD may have some technical problems, fans aren’t going to get a DVD with Iced Earth in the same state as they were in 1999. This was a band at the top of their game and coming off of, what some consider to be, their best album. Since then, the only person left is Jon Schaeffer and there have been 3 releases since then, ranging from mediocre to just plain bad. Now, there’s certainly some things people are going to have to settle for with this release and depending on how you feel about these things, this DVD could end up being one of your favourites, or something you should just forget about.
The video footage on here is from a television broadcast and as such, this is only a 3 camera shoot. There’s no crane shots or anything like that, much of the camera work is either from the photo pit, just off to the side of the stage, or from the balcony and it’s all hand camera work it seems as sometimes the footage can be a bit shaky and off centre. Still, it does look good, but if you’re expecting wide sweeping shots and lots of front shots of the stage with tons of close ups, you aren’t going to get it. Sound wise this is pretty much ALIVE IN ATHENS, there are some sections that are clearly not part of the album, a couple intros to songs here and there and there’s a noticeable drop off in sound quality, which indicates to me that those were recorded by the video cameras and not the audio gear. There’s both a stereo and 5.1 mix of the audio, though I’ve been told that there’s at least one section in which the 5.1 mix completely messes up and drops down to two channels. To me this isn’t much of a problem as I don’t listen to my music in surround sound, seeing as replicating at a concert, the music would only be coming at you from the front anyway.
The main problem many might find is that the audio and video routinely don’t sync up. There are times when there’s vocals but clearly no one is near a microphone, such as the intro to “Pure Evil”, large sections of “Stormrider”, through “Dante’s Inferno”, “Last Laugh” etc. etc. Part of the reason this is, at least the way I see it is that Century Media merely took the audio from the ALIVE IN ATHENS CD and pasted it overtop of the video footage they had. The problem with that being that this show was recorded over two nights, some songs being played both nights. With that, I wouldn’t doubt that the video of certain songs is coming say from the first night, while the audio is coming from the second. My problem with this is that it makes the release feel more like a music video than an actual live set, it’s live audio thrown overtop of live video but they aren’t necessarily the same performance. Of course 99% of the time everything syncs up perfectly, but I find it incredibly aggravating, even if it’s only that 1% of the time.
Another problem I’ve seen mentioned is that three songs are cut from the DVD, those being “Iced Earth”, “A Question of Heaven”, and “Slave to the Dark”. It doesn’t particularly bother me much to see these songs excluded, certainly it would have been nice to have them, but not really something that warrants a lot of complaining, there’s still 28 other songs on here.
Whether this release is for you, is truly up to you. Regardless of the audio and video issues I find this to be a fun DVD to watch, I just don’t get as much enjoyment out of it as I could have. This may not be the Iced Earth live DVD everyone’s dreamed of for so long, but it’s still better than some other band DVD’s out there.