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Oh yes. This just fucking blew my mind. This is probably the best live album ever recorded, apart from Live After Death. I mean, live albums have always been my passion, and I am that one silly individual who always replaces his studio tracks with live ones if they are available (and can you blame me, judging by the fact that I spent my childhood listening to the old hard rock acts and old metal classics?) Hell, I think Iron Maiden are the best band ever to walk the earth, so if you are like me, how not to replace your studio tracks with live ones, eh?
So, what does this make a great live album? Well, everything. Setlist is, mildly said, perfect. I mean, this is like the ultimate best of Iced Earth, who in their own right have a shitload of great songs, put together, with an added punch, crowd going absolutely wild and shit. There isn't a single song where the crowd isn't screaming every single word along with Barlow. Oh and while we are at Barlow, he is at his absolute prime here. Shit all you want at him, he is my 2nd favorite singer ever, just seriously, point me at the person who can sing those songs better than him. This man screams, bellows, and does every little nifty trick with his voice available to him, and he succeeds. The rest of the band is no slouch either. Apparently, this concert is recorded on two separate nights, which had a bit different setlists from one another, and again I must say, they chose the best of the best. And yes, I can call 31 songs best of the best. Of course, I'd like to have heard 'Curse The Sky' from the debut, but that would just be nitpicking, this opus is enough to satisfy anyone. So, back to the band. Schaffer is better than ever, his triplets do sound fresh, and since the production turned guitars into a massive machines of pure godliness, Schaffer himself sounds like a god. Larry Tarnowski handles the leads, and handles them well, nothing special about it, Iced Earth were never a lead guitar band. Bass and drums are also thundering all over the place, with Brent adding a lot of improvised fills, sometimes to a degree where it might seem unnecessary (for example, just after that slow part in a song 'Iced Earth', where that almighty triplet gallop riff starts to shine, I think he overuses the double bass pedal a bit, but then again, we are at nitpicking), but nothing to complain about.
So, the songs... The concert opens with 'Burning Times', and officially ends with 'Violate' but I'm pretty sure the actual closing song was 'Iced Earth' as it always is. The DVD setlist kinda differs from this one, but it doesn't really matter, as both setlists make perfect sense. The crowd is constantly excited on the thrashing numbers as well as the ballads, which sound way better than in the studio. Again, I'm constantly repeating myself by telling how everything sounds just great, but it's just the way it is. Here is the definite version of 'Pure Evil' with Barlow's screaming piercing through the roof of club Rodon in Athens. Also, 'Watching Over Me' and 'A Question Of Heaven', just listen to the crowd. A friend of mine told me that a latter song is missing the last scream, but I wouldn't know, since I heard this one prior to the studio one, and I was sticking to it 'till today. 'The Hunter'... oh my god, aren't they loud. The crowd is screaming the main melody as soon as it starts, enhancing it and adding an extra punch which couldn't be replaced by any guitars. In 'Dark Saga', 'Dante's Inferno', they also sing some parts instead of the actual singer, which always sounds good in my opinion. The Stormrider trilogy is also here, as is the Something Wicked trilogy. Want an absolute highlight? The forgotten Stormrider classic... yes it's 'Travel In Stygian'. If you thought the studio version was epic, wait until you've heard this. Oh that chorus with Barlow wailing: 'In Stygiiiiaaaaaaan', sends chills down my spine everytime I hear it. Oh and did I mention how the crowd immediately throws themselves into the fray, and completing the wailing part after the chorus INSTEAD of Barlow? Fantastic.
I could go on and on for hours and hours preaching how this album is beyond great, but that wouldn't make any sense. This is so good it must be heard. It's a live album by which all other live albums must measure up to. It's 3 hours long, but worth every second of it. Get this in any way you can. Oh and yes, I have heard that there are some shortened versions, so fuck that and get the straight 3 CD one.
Best songs: Pure Evil, A Question Of Heaven, Blessed Are You, Travel In Stygian.
Best moments: 'You are a SINAAAAAAH!' in Burning Times, crowd responses in Travel In Stygian and The Hunter, the improvised ending of Watching Over Me.
Iced Earth's live DVD, Alive in Athens features a great performance from the Power Metal/Thrash Metal band, Iced Earth. The DVD features two concerts from back to back nights which adds up to a 28 song set list. The set list is great featuring classics like the Something Wicked trilogy, the epic Dante's Inferno, Pure Evil, and Stormrider. The concert features one of the best performances I have ever seen on a live DVD, rivaling great live DVD’s by legendary bands like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest.
The performances by all of the musicians are flawless. Matt Barlow never misses a note singing and sounds better live than he does on the albums/. Barlow’s emotional performance on Watching Over Me takes an average ballad and makes it great, far superior than the album version. Another high point is Barlow’s epic vocals on the Something Wicked trilogy, the highlight of the concert. Brent Smeadley and James Macdonough hold down the rhythm section great while Jon Schaffer provides great rhythm guitar work. The rhythm section makes the songs seem twice as intense as they are on the albums, adding much to the songs. They take some average songs such as some of the material off The Dark Saga and make it much better than the studio album versions. Larry Tarnowski also provides some memorable lead guitar parts in the concert; however the production seems to focus more on Jon Schaffer’s rhythm guitar rather than the lead guitar, which is good, because Jon’s Rhythm guitar is what really drives Iced Earth songs.
The only flaw in this DVD is the production. While the sound quality is great, making you feel like you are at the show, the filming of the concert is not the best quality, and you can tell that it was a low budget for filming the concert and that there were only a few cameramen there to film, but they do an decent job of filming. Being a drummer myself, I would have liked to have seen more than just the occasional close up shot of the drumming, but the camera crew seemed more focused on Barlow and Schaffer mainly, which is okay, as it allows you to see Barlow putting on arguably the best live vocal performance of all time. These are just minor flaws however, and don’t really take much away from an outstanding performance by the band.
This is a top notch performance from a great metal band that I would recommend to any metal fan, regardless of what genres you like. It covers a lot of Iced Earth material, giving you a chance to see a lot of songs performed that aren't regularly played at Iced Earth shows. This is also a great DVD to get if you have never heard anything by Iced Earth, as it covers most of their best material.
Highlights: Barlow’s Vocal performance, Dante’s Inferno, Stormrider, Something Wicked Trilogy.
The line-up here will always be considered Iced Earth’s best because of this performance. This is arguably the greatest live album ever conceived. Matt Barlow has one of the best vocals in metal. His performance on this album should be considered legendary. Jon Schaffer plays of his parts perfectly. Brent Smedly’s drum paying is quite phenomenal. He does a great job filling in for all the past drummers in the band; it feels like he’s been at the helm the entire time in Iced Earth’s history. James MacDonough is a great bass player; it’s no wonder he survived through the line-up changes, he can play. Larry Tarnowski does his part well here hitting all the solos better than the originals. The stars have aligned here.
What makes this album so great? Well, the set list is amazing. All three discs contain the best songs out of the Iced Earth discography. It’s like Schaffer knows what songs are fan favorites. The most important song however, is “Dante’s Inferno.” A sixteen-minute long epic that is performed better than the original. I don’t care who you are; it’s difficult to play a sixteen minute long song that fast and heavy. It’s remarkable. Fans were dying to hear it live, considering they rarely play it. It’s titled a gem for good reason. All the epics are here. The Something Wicked trilogy, “A Question of Heaven,” “When the Night Falls,” and “Travel in Stygian.” Luckily, not only do the epics rule here. Everything else is exceptional.
The crowd does its part. They’re just right. Not too loud, not too quiet. Many bands have the crowd so loud it can overpower the music, and others make it to where it doesn’t even sound live, to where the crowd is almost non-existent. They get it just right here.
This is the greatest live album ever made in my opinion. If you like Iced Earth, get it. It’s a necessity. Hardcore fans all ready own it. If you never listened to Iced Earth, this is the best place to start. It has the best song from their first five releases. This is a must own.
‘Alive in Athens’, probably the best bloody live CD(s) ever. It’s so close to perfection that it’s frightening.
OK, a bit of history, not Iced Earth history but my Iced Earth history, this was my second taste of Iced Earth. For some reason I’d never come across this awesome band, even though they’ve been around almost as long as I’ve been listening to metal. Anyhow I saw this in Virgin almost exactly 12 months ago. I was very tempted I must admit, 3 CDs for £20. But considering I’d never heard them I decided to go for the lower risk option, at only £3.99, and get the just released ‘Overture of the Wicked’ mini CD. Well I have to say I was pretty impressed, good songs, no correction, bloody great songs actually, it did the job of ticking a lot of my listening boxes, however, just one small problem; the vocals! I don’t want to get into the debate about who is the best, Tim Owens or Matt Barlow, they are both excellent singers, but for me, Tim’s vocals just grate on my nerves. I have never been and never will be a Judas Priest, or to be more accurate, a Rob Halford fan and that’s what Tim reminded me of, which I guess is no surprise really as he was Halfords replacement in Priest. But the high pitched falsettos just don’t do anything for me, sorry Tim mate, nothing personal, just my personal preference.
Anyway, after doing a bit of investigation, on these very pages, I found out that the ‘Alive in Athens’ recordings were done with the guy Tim replaced, a certain Mathew Barlow! Well having also found ‘Alive in Athens’ for a far more tempting price of £8 (including p&p) I decided to go for it. And I’m sure happy that I did, no almost ecstatic actually. Talk about value for money? 3 CDs, and over 3 hours of music, you can’t really go wrong. This is just the perfect package, it’s basically a greatest hits of Iced Earth, but because it’s live, all the songs benefit from the same sound, you don’t get any of the production inconsistencies you get with many greatest hits packages, no sir.
I have no idea if this is a straight live recording or if it’s been overdubbed or tinkered with in the studio, but to be honest I really don’t care, because it sounds fantastic. Honestly, considering this was recorded ten years ago or so, it stands up to any modern production you’d care to put it up against it. The guitars are both sharp and have a nice heavy crunch, and talking of guitars I particularly like the way that Jon’s Rhythm guitar is panned hard left and Larry’s Lead/Rhythm is panned hard right, the drums have a snap and bristle to them and are nicely pinned down by a really strong bass guitar sound. And on top of that we have the vocals of Matt Barlow. What a performance, the whole band sound great, I certainly can’t pick out any major mistakes, but Matt puts in a career topping performance. The constrains of the studio have been lost and he just goes for it. You want emotion, check out ‘A Question of Heaven’, you want howling screams; ‘Pure Evil’ is the one for you. Aggression? How about ‘Brainwashed’, Disciples of the Lie’ or show closer ‘Violate’. It’s just an awesome performance.
If you are a newcomer to Iced Earth, like I was, there is no better starting point than ‘Alive in Athens’, not only has it got pretty much all of there best tracks , the ones on here blow the studio versions out of the water.
Right, I’ve been purring about this album right, well it is pretty much perfect. But even something this good has to have a flaw right? Well unfortunately yes it does. Only a minor one I suppose but also a bloody annoying one. Put simply, where the fuck is ‘Burnt Offerings’? Pretty much every song you could possibly want from Iced Earth is on ‘Alive in Athens’ and they miss off one of the best! What the hell were you guys thinking?
The bottom line is this; this is the best live album I own. In fact it’s one of the best albums I own bar none. If I was stranded on a dessert island and had a choice of 10 CDs to take this would be one of them. Hell, if I could only take 5, it would be one of them! They don’t come much better than this
Well, everything about this is awesome, besides the editing, and direction... The music kicks the shit out of anything I've ever seen live, and the sound and picture quality is unbelievable...but...they cut out the track that IS Iced Earth...and it seems that the camera men (or the editors) wanted us to look at Jon, while Larry is playing a solo. And it doesn’t happen just once, but throughout. You don't even see him until the second song.
Jon himself said he didn't like the DVD, but I have to say, it is still not a waste of money.
You can tell there is a lot of passion going into this show. From the get-go the look in the eyes of the band when they kick off "Burning Times" is one of pure electricity. If my eyes don't deceive me, I can almost see a tear in Jon's eye while they played "Watching Over Me", a ballad about Schaffer’s life long friend, who was killed in an auto accident, as stated. It is hard to find a flaw in the stage show, you know, what you paid to see. Even Brent Smedly's Spider-Man hat made the band seem so cool and together.
James McDonough is a monster; flowing locks, bad ass tattoos, oh yeah and his amazing bass skills. And Matt Barlow...the man doesn't miss a single note; never did I find myself cringing with a flat note, unlike some of the Metal (lica) videos I own. The mass of red hair swinging around the stage give the set a powerful, and enchanting feel and it just draws you in and keeps you going.
The highlight of the DVD is the "Night of the Stormrider" block, where they play the first 3 songs of that epic practically in sync with the album, kind of makes me arm get tired watching. And when they busted out "Dante's Inferno" the crowd and the band gave it there all for 16 and a half minutes with unprecedented precision.
Although with the absence of the song "Iced Earth" it was a remarkable DVD his heart pounding adrenaline and force that make Iced Earth on of the best metal bands around today.
I bought this DVD on a whim. I had heard a couple Iced Earth songs, thought they were OK, etc. etc. I went into a record store and saw this, and thought: Hmmm, $20 (fairly cheap for a DVD) for 28 songs. Sounds like a deal.
I was blown out of the water when I watched it.
I had only heard rumours of Alive In Athen's awesomeness before I picked up the DVD, and I was very impressed by what I saw. I was not even an Iced Earth fan before I bought the DVD, and now I am a hardcore fan. The content is so worthwhile and gimmick free, it may be one of the best music DVDs of all time.
First of all: the production. It has been criticized (even by Jon Schaffer himself) of the lack of cameras, the low budget of it all, etc. While they do have a point, it's not poor quality. When Tarnowski solos, you often get camera shots of him; when Barlow's belts out a verse it focuses on him; when Schaffer sings backup it focuses on him. Simple? Yes. Still good? Yes. Too many DVDs, in my opinion, go overboard on the cameras and editing (Maiden's Death on the Road, anyone?) and causes the viewers mild headaches.
Second: The setlist. It's mindblowing. 28 of Iced Earth's greatest songs, performed immaculately. The only complaints here is that "A Question of Heaven" and "Burnt Offerings" are missing; however "A Question of Heaven" was supposedly omitted for technical reasons. A representative sampling of all of Iced Earth's albums to 1999; it's the best way to get into the band and appreciate their genius.
Third: The performances. Schaffer and Barlow are at their best, providing searing vocals and ripping rythym guitars. Macdonough is pounding his bass like crazy; unfortunately, the bass is not high in the mix to hear his wide range of styles in the different songs. Tarnowski plays most of the guitar solos well, with the exception of a ouple of solos from "Night of the Stormrider" and "Burnt Offerings". Smedley is grooving along like usual, and his dancing on the bass drums really gives a hard edge to the sound.
Fourth: The extras. Not much here, just 10 minutes of backstage and Jon Schaffer in Athens. But you have 160 minutes of performance; do you really need them anyways? They're mildly interesting.
In conclusion, a great DVD for the hardcore fans, as well as a great DVD for the casual fans. Simple production, great setlist and performances, and all the energy Iced Earth brings to the stage captured perfectly on this DVD. A must for all fans of metal.
Oh dear, I may act like a faggoty fanboy but Iced Earth is my favorite band and I have anticipated the release of an Iced Earth DVD for ages, and finally after there first major live gig taped and put out I was elated. But with every passing year I wondered if it would be released, and finally about 8 years later I heard the great news.
After I got it I put it in and looked in the list of songs and I was extremely excited about the songs, but when I realized that one of my favorites, "A Question of Heaven" was missing, my heart sank. It was due to technical problems with the (small) camera crew and/or video problems. Oh well moving on, I can't complain about the set list of songs, all the fan favorites, all the great sing-a-longs, headbangers, and classics were still there. Crowd favorites like Violate, Pure Evil, and my personal favorite Stand Alone all serve to be the highlights. But I cannot leave out the outstanding Something Wicked trilogy and the sorrowful display of Matt's vocals on Melancholy and I Died for You. This DVD really shows the wide array of Iced Earth's catalogue.
From the first moment I heard the intro to 'Burning Times' to the lovely piano intro in 'Coming Curse' I was not once disappointed by the performance of the band, rhythm guitarist god Jon Schaffer was on the top of his game and all his riffs were perfect as usual. Check his guitar out, it's possibly the most badass guitar I've ever seen! James MacDonough was present on stage with his wild hair and killer tattoos, and Brent Smedley made his presence known, he can be quite the madman on the kit, he shows his talent by keeping pace with everything well. Lead guitarist Larry Tarnowski I think is tied with Randall Shawver as Iced Earth's most talented leads, Larry really has a nice style of playing that molds perfectly with the dark style of Iced Earth and the quick even pacing of Jon's rhythm.
And of course the highlight of the band, vocalist Matthew Barlow. Wow, he displays such amazing stage prescense and really commands the crowd. Not only that, he has the perfect voice and really shows how versatile he is from the high shrieks to the low growls which all sound exactly like studio versions which really proves the talent of a musician. As a side note - I fucking wish I had his hair.
As a live DVD release, it might not compare up to the other big releases of other bands due to lack of Extras and lack of dynamics on the overall experience, but I got what I wanted. It gives you a band playing live, no bullshit, nothing that you have to watch before, it goes straight into the music with little ado and for those who care about extras there happens to be backstage setup and preparation and Jon Schaffer walking around Athens. Nothing special. The only reason preventing me giving this a 100 is due to the missing "A Question of Heaven" and for the overall lack of professional camera crew, but in the long run that's just being picky.
For Iced Earth fans, THIS.IS.A.MUST. For a fan of any form of metal and live concert DVDs, you should check this out as well.
After almost a decade of waiting, finaly some fortunate ones will be able to check on DVD the show that became a classic Iced Earth item, and that was release also in a triple CD. Before watch the DVD it is necessary to say that the american version of DVD has a booklet with the original coments of the triple CD and all lyrics of the 30 song from the show. I will not coment here track by track, because each one of us has our favorite songs and it would be a hypocrisy to try to change the opinion of somebody with some few lines.
In general the DVD has a good quality, in spite of the simplicity of the menu, extras (only eight minutes with Iced Earth backstage stuffs and Jon Schaffer in Atens showing some historical places) and except for the fact that the whole show was recorded with just one camera, the DVD worth for the almost 3 hours of Iced Earth in a excelent show. Mandatory material for the real Iced Earth fans.
The only thing that is unforgivable is that they, again, leave “Colors” out of the DVD. Is there a possibility of Melancholy DVD? There are things that are practically impossiable to be understood, but...
Iced Earth is one of the most underrated bands ever. While they should not be embraced by mainstream media, they should be selling more albums than Slipknot. Why one cannot listen to them is beyond me. Alive In Athens really showcases the bands talent and live energy, anyone who has seen the live will attest to that.
The first disk is loaded with classics from every album. The 16 minute "Dante's Inferno" is pure power. Travel in Stygian is insanely heavy and Melancholy really gets the emotions flowing. The song that stole the show is clearly "A Question of Heaven." It is brutal, heavy, emotional and displays the band's capabilities bar none.
The second disk includes the epic Something Wicked Trilogy, one of the best concepts they have released. Path I Choose steals the heavy award and Watching Over Me takes the emotional award. The crowd fav Stormrider is really intense and Angels Halocaust defines the sound.
The third disk is another solid lineup. Stand Alone is a perfect opener, Brainwashed is a perfect example of their versitality. Violate really steals the show with its brutal heavyness, sick double kick from Brent Smedley (their touring drummer at the time) and the little "Trooper" closing riff is classic.
Overall... its pure IE. Emotional, heavy, relentless, epic and pure metal music at its finest. Everyone should have at least the double disk version, but the triple is paramount for any IE fans collection. I personally bought two of the three disk versions... one to listen to, one kept unopened to preserve forever. One of my top 15 fav albums by far and crucial to any metal fan's collection.
This album defines Iced Earth. Go and buy it now. Your taste in music will change forever.
Here we have it. We have here, one of the most awesome live albums in metal history. Rock in Rio can't even hold a candle to Alive in Athens, in my opinion. Almost everything about this album is completely mind-blowing. Most of the time, I'd rather listen to a studio version of a song rather than a live version, but not with Alive in Athens.
With Alive in Athens, Iced Earth takes the studio to the audience and multiplies the awesomeness on all kinds of levels. This is the true poster boy of all live albums. There are no mistakes, no breaks, or anything stupid. All there is room for is the pure power of heavy metal. I know Jon Schaffer traditionally doesn't use BC Rich guitars, but he used one well on Alive in Athens.
The guitars have a very heavy crunch sound, as if you're being beaten into the ground with a sledgehammer. The solos stand out more than on the studio albums, even though some parts couldn’t be harmonized it's still just as good. The thing I would have changed would have been to take out "Last Laugh" as well as "The Path I Choose," and replace them with something like "Burnt Offerings" and "Consequences," maybe. Dante’s Inferno on Alive in Athens easily beats the Burnt Offerings studio version. The sound is so sweet, crushing, heavy, and melodic.
I was glad to hear Barlow do the Night of the Stormrider material, because I wasn’t a fan of Greely’s vocals at all. Matt totally nails the NOTS material with ease, which brings a smile to my face each time I listen to it. When I first bought the album it was in my CD player for over a few months. Yes, it’s that good! This album completely pulverizes any live Iron Maiden or Judas Priest album with ease. This album is worth every penny and should be owned by all heavy metal fans.
For the average Iced Earth fan this seems to be among the single most praised album in the history of metal. Sadly, this two disc platter is boringly over-produced, mixed flatly and lacking in a "I feel like I was there" surround sound that every classic live album has managed to deliver. Instead, we get a boring "greatest hits" album with geeky stage banter and occassional cheers. If you want to hear these songs at their best go buy the original records, as this live album is filled with nothing but slightly flattened run-throughs of what was already released in superior form. I don't get the hype, nor will I indulge in pointless worship of Iced Earth for their laughable "fuck posers" stance (how about "fuck boring albums" instead) as it does nothing to further anything musical for the genre nor the band. This CD does not live up to the hype, and it only delivers 1,000 things we have heard before under the pretense of an supposedly "exciting" life experiance that sounds studio-canned and stressed.
Also...teach Barlow some new speech's lest he sound even MORE cliched the next time around. Seriously folks - Iced Earth have done much better...so if you're the type of person who loves this band you should probably go purchase those earlier records instead. If you're not a fan at all or new to the band...get the sophmore release as it's the best.
Call me unimpressed.
This is the one album i've never put down since I bought it.
The rendition of each and every song on this album is superb, Jon and Co. never put a foot wrong on any track, this album is simply other-worldly. There are so many highlights to mention, each track is brilliant. The performance of Pure Evil is brilliant, great atmosphere in Melancholy and there doesn't need to be much said about Dante's Inferno, a truly fantastic epic. The Hunter is uplifting and the chorus is fantastic, Travel In Stygian has galloping riffs everywhere and Barlow does a great job with the vocals. A Question of Heaven may be the highlight of the album, Barlows vocals are out of this world here, and its dripping with atmosphere.
Disc 2 has more greats, Last December is venomous, Barlow is biting again, a change of pace is shown with Watching Over me, a very emotional song for Jon about a good friend of his (whom came up with the name Iced Earth) who died in a motorcycle accident, and after that comes the superb blistering NOTS opener Angels Holocaust. Probably the most energetic track Stormrider is full of energy and gets the whole crowd involved, a superb track. The soaring vocals at the start of 'path i choose' epitomises metal itself. I died for you is another slower track off the dark saga, followed by the excellent Something Wicked Trilogy. The album closer is the band moniker 'Iced Earth' which is superb with Barlow on vocals.
If you are lucky enough to get the 3 disc version, there are more treats in store for you. 'Cast in Stone' is a much improved version of 'written on the walls', Desert Rain stands out for me as one of the highlights of the album, its fast and the riffs are brutal and biting. Brainwashed is extremely heavy, you can feel the anger through Barlows vocals. Diary is another brilliant heavy track from Burnt Offerings and Blessed Are you is a really great emotional ballad, and a great crowd pleaser. The album closes with the brutal Violate, with a huge reaction from the crowd at the end.
A fantastic live album, great production, superb energy and atmosphere and the performance by the band is unbelievable. A must buy for any metal fan.. or even music fan.
Reason for the silly topic is simply the fact that I don't think about Alive in Athens as a REAL live album. Sure it's live, there's audience singing along the more catchy tracks and chanting "Iced Earth, Iced Earth!" between the songs. But the band is so loud you can hardly hear the audience. -That ain't bad though, add perfect songs and flawless playing and you get an album which doesn't quite capture the live mood of for example Life After Death BUT delivers the Iced Earth classics better than ever before.
The song material is well chosen. There aren't any bad tracks on the album but you could of course bitch about why Burnt Offerings is not there or why Funeral isn't there etc. Matthew Barlow does amazing job with the vocals. He tops his own studio performances from the previous albums and in my opinion captures the feeling of the songs better than the previous Iced Earth vocalists. Rest of the band does very nice job too, they do not add much new into songs(The Trooper ripoff in the end of Violate rocks though!!) but just give an intensive and energic show.
Alive in Athens is a great live album, but in my opinion it is better as a best of compilation. Up-to-date versions of their great songs with killer sounds and an amazing intensity. It's easy to recommend this album as first purchase for an Iced Earth newbie.
This is pretty much the only album after Burnt Offerings worth getting by Iced Earth. The songs here are so much better than the studio versions. Even the "Stormrider" songs are quite decent, missing only Greely's hideous shrieks but compensated highly by the fact that all the riffs are definitely there.
Pretty much every indispensable Iced Earth song is here, with one exception. "Angels' Holocaust", "Pure Evil", check. "Burnt Offerings" - nooooo!!! Where is it?? Well, "Diary" and "Brainwashed" are here, and so is "Dante's Inferno". The live version sounds far more coherent than the studio version.
From their newer albums... we have the very good "Burning Times", also some of their crappier moments, like "Melancholy", "A Question of Heaven" (actually quite good live) and the unfixably grotesque "Watching Over Me". Sorry, guys - when you were a thrash band at one point, silly ballads are not going to cut it. But at least it is slightly bearable, unlike the studio version, which is complete crap.
Is it total overkill? Yes, at three albums long. But nothing really demands to be executed via skip button, and if you wait long enough, most everything good is here. Oh yeah, "Iced Earth" and "Path that I Choose" are here too... then all the random filler stuff that really doesn't stand out on any studio album is done quite nicely here.
Yes, live albums are very good in general for metal bands. This is no exception - even if you got sick of Schaffer's triplets halfway through The Dark Saga, this is still worth getting - the live performance raises the quality of the later-era songs to almost that of Stormrider and Burnt Offerings. And Barlow does a pretty damn good job, not resorting to the over-emoting that he is guilty of in the studio quite as often. Definitely worth getting.
Oh yes, get only the 3CD version. Fuck the rest.