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Iced Earth
Festivals of the Wicked (DVD)
August 2011
Released: July, n/a
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Munkwunk

Though this is the third DVD to be released with the Iced Earth name tied to it, Jon Schaffer has referred to it as “the first real Iced Earth DVD.” Coming from the man himself, that’s saying a lot. Given the history of the previous DVD releases though, it’s easy to see why.



Their first DVD, Gettysburg (2005), was more of a heavy metal approach to Civil War history than a traditional music DVD. The second, Alive in Athens (2006) was released by the band’s former record label, Century Media, and was leftover concert footage from the band’s Alive in Athens live CD that was released seven years before. Of the latter DVD, I recall Jon Schaffer recommending that fans not buy it, since the concert was never truly intended to be released on film and the quality was sub-par.



Thus, the comment that Jon made during the Festival of the Wicked’s documentary that this is the first true Iced Earth DVD makes sense; the band has finally released a traditional music DVD, complete with three full-length concerts, an hour-long documentary, and some bonus materials including the band’s music videos (of which they have done very few relative to most bands) and some photo shoots.



In total, the DVD boasts over six hours of entertainment. That’s a lot of material for one release, and it does take up space on two DVDs. Whether or not it is six hours well-spent, however, will be up to each individual to decide.



For what it’s worth, I don’t feel that I wasted the money I spent on this release. I am a long-time Iced Earth fan and had pre-ordered this DVD the moment I heard about it. It is entertaining and somewhat informative, but I can’t help but feel like its release was somewhat premature.



The hour-long documentary is the first menu item on the first disc, so naturally it’s a good starting place to begin your experience. Unfortunately, the documentary seems to be only half baked. It is filled with musical interludes and video montages that break up short interview clips with Jon and the rest of the band. As each respective band member gets their turn to talk, listeners gain insight into the band’s history, group dynamics, and hopes for the future. There are some really interesting tidbits of information to be gleaned from the documentary, but it’s put together in such a sporadic manner as to leave one scratching ones head about what the current topic at hand might be.



Throughout the documentary you will see concert footage from three different songs, ending with the band’s signature song and namesake, “Iced Earth.” While this footage is interesting, it is spaced throughout the documentary and never really introduced; one moment Jon is talking and the next moment we’re watching a live performance. Ultimately, it makes the hour-long documentary feel like about half an hour of discussion and half an hour of filler. Overall, the documentary was an enjoyable letdown.



Thankfully, the documentary isn’t the only thing this DVD has to offer. Also on disc one is the first of three full-length concert videos, this one of the band at Metal Camp Open Air in Slovenia circa 2008. This is a fun video that features music from every era of Iced Earth save for the always-missing Burnt Offerings album. The track list includes:



01. Dark Saga

02. Vengeance Is Mine

03. Burning Times

04. Declaration Day

05. Violate

06. Pure Evil

07. Watching Over Me

08. Ten Thousand Strong

09. Dracula

10. The Coming Curse

11. I Died For You

12. Travel In Stygian

13. A Question Of Heaven

14. Melancholy (Holy Martyr)

15. My Own Savior

16. Iced Earth



The video and audio quality of the concert is great – definitely on par with other metal concert releases over the last several years. It does seem to suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, though; the camera moves so much and switches so constantly that we rarely get a good close-up on a guitar solo, drum solo, or anything else that would seem interesting. It’s a barrage of footage that certainly makes the scene feel intense and fast-paced, but I prefer to occasionally see a good solo in action. To be fair, this is not the only metal DVD to suffer from ADHD, but that doesn’t make this any better.



Disc two of the album features two more concert videos: Rock Hard Festival in Germany (2008) and Wacken Open Air in Germany (2007). The former video has the following set-list:



01. Dark Saga

02. Vengeance Is Mine

03. Burning Times

04. Declaration Day

05. Violate

06. Pure Evil

07. Watching Over Me

08. Ten Thousand Strong

09. Dracula

10. The Coming Curse

11. Travel In Stygian

12. A Question Of Heaven

13. Melancholy (Holy Martyr)

14. My Own Savior

15. Iced Earth



If that seems familiar, it should. Disappointingly, this concert has a virtually identical set list to the Metal Camp video. It lacks the song “I Died For You” but is otherwise the same show. The video quality is similarly upstanding but erratic, making this concert a bit boring to watch when viewed back-to-back with the first.



Concert two on this disc has the following set:



01. Burning Times

02. Declaration Day

03. Violate

04. Vengeance Is Mine

05. Ten Thousand Strong

06. The Hunter

07. Stormrider

08. A Charge To Keep

09. My Own Savior

10. Prophecy

11. Birth Of The Wicked

12. The Coming Curse

13. Iced Earth



With its (mostly) different set list, this video doesn’t feel as redundant as the last. It also features Tim Owens on vocals, rather than Matt Barlow, which further breaks up the monotony. I am not personally a fan of Owens’ vocals, but the performance was spectacular nonetheless. The video did a pretty good job of focusing in on some of the key moments, which I appreciated, and the band as a whole was at the very top of their game. There were a few minor tweaks to some of the band’s classics that made them sound new and fresh, which also helped go a long way toward making this one of the strongest performances on the DVD despite my bias against the singer.



Once you’ve chewed through the documentary and the three concerts, the DVD has little left to offer. It offers up the band’s limited supply of music videos, which you have probably already watched on the Internet if you’ve ever been inclined to do so, and two photo sessions. The photo sessions are just slideshows of various photo shoots set to the same background music for each; they don’t really feel special at all. For the sake of completion, the music video and photo list includes:



01. Ten Thousand Strong [Music Video]

02. When The Eagle Cries [Music Video]

03. The Reckoning (Don't Tread On Me) [Music Video]

04. Declaration Day [Music Video]

05. Framing Armageddon [Electronic Press Kit]

06. Photo Slideshow (By Ross Halfin)

07. Photo Slideshow (By Rudy De Doncker)



After all is said and done, there is about two and a half to three hours of content on this DVD that’s really worthwhile. Thankfully, if you’re an Iced Earth fan already, that footage alone is well worth the asking price for the DVD. However, I can’t help but feel that the release was a little premature.



Around the same time that the DVD was announced, it was also announced that Matt Barlow’s return to the band was short-lived and that he is once again leaving. As of the date of this review, Matt Barlow still has a few summer festivals left to perform with the band including his farewell gig at Wacken 2011. If you ask me, the band would have done better to hold off on this DVD release until after the Wacken performance so they could catch it on film and add a third truly unique concert to the mix, as opposed to the two nearly-identical concerts that are presented here already.



If you’re an Iced Earth fan, you should probably pick up Festivals of the Wicked. Even for its faults, and there are plenty of them, it is a worthwhile release from which you’re sure to get at least a few hours of enjoyment. It’s not the best metal DVD, but it’s good enough to have in your collection.
Track Listing

Disc I

Live at Metal Camp Open Air 2008

01. Dark Saga
02. Vengeance Is Mine
03. Burning Times
04. Declaration Day
05. Violate
06. Pure Evil
07. Watching Over Me
08. Ten Thousand Strong
09. Dracula
10. The Coming Curse
11. I Died For You
12. Travel In Stygian
13. A Question Of Heaven
14. Melancholy (Holy Martyr)
15. My Own Savior
16. Iced Earth

+ 25 Chapter Documentary (52 min)

Disc II

Live at Rock Hard Festival 2008

01. Dark Saga
02. Vengeance Is Mine
03. Burning Times
04. Declaration Day
05. Violate
06. Pure Evil
07. Watching Over Me
08. Ten Thousand Strong
09. Dracula
10. The Coming Curse
11. Travel In Stygian
12. A Question Of Heaven
13. Melancholy (Holy Martyr)
14. My Own Savior
15. Iced Earth

Live at Wacken Open Air 2007

16. Burning Times
17. Declaration Day
18. Violate
19. Vengeance Is Mine
20. Ten Thousand Strong
21. The Hunter
22. Stormrider
23. A Charge To Keep
24. My Own Savior
25. Prophecy
26. Birth Of The Wicked
27. The Coming Curse
28. Iced Earth

Bonus Video Clips & Pictures

29. Ten Thousand Strong [Music Video]
30. When The Eagle Cries [Music Video]
31. The Reckoning (Don't Tread On Me) [Music Video]
32. Declaration Day [Music Video]
33. Framing Armageddon [Electronic Press Kit]
34. Photo Slideshow (By Ross Halfin)
35. Photo Slideshow (By Rudy De Doncker)

Lineup

n/a


Next review: » Iced Earth - Framing Armageddon
Previous review: » Iced Earth - Dystopia





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