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Best $20 I've spent all year... - 96%

GuineaPig, July 29th, 2007

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.