Thursday, June 9, 2011

One Great Song - "The Reckoning (Don't Tread on Me)" - Iced Earth - 2004

Glorious BurdenI've always loved Iced Earth. I love their absolutely straightforward approach to metal that took off against the tide of grunge in the early 90s and that has continued in all its glorious excess since. Despite lineup changes aplenty, Jon Schaffer has accomplished a continuity of excellence. "Ripper" Owens' debut with the band, The Glorious Burden, is a particularly heavy affair both in its music and its lyrical content, dealing with the history of armed conflict in America and beyond. While the highlight of The Glorious Burden is the three-song suite that makes up Gettysburg (1863), the best single track, in my opinion, and one that stands out among Iced Earth's entire recorded output is "The Reckoning (Don't Tread on Me)."

Potentially easily interpreted as a revenge song for 9/11, "The Reckoning (Don't Tread on Me)" goes for me beyond recent history and back as far as its Gadsen Flag namesake to state a simple fact: you fuck with the Eagle, you'll pay the price.

The Glorious Burden is unashamedly and unapologetically patriotic while also acknowledging the horrors that exist even for history's victors. While tracks like "Declaration Day," "Waterloo" and "Valley Forge" all examine specific places in time, "The Reckoning" distills the entire record into a simply stated credo. And one that rocks. Message aside, Schaffer simply shreds and Owens vocally demonstrates why he was deemed worthy of Priest. James MacDonough and Richard Christy lay down an insane rhythm that propels this number forward faster and faster.  It's a brief and furious track that is almost lost among the grandeur that populates the rest of the album but one that deserves an extra listen on its own.

Born of destruction, bred in agony
is this my salvation?
from these ashes, I am your devastation

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