As snarky as I feel about 9/11 kitsch--the condensation of unspeakable tragedy into a neat consumable package--the element of sincerity always catches me off guard. The last great work of the genre might be Iced Earth's new The Glorious Burden (Hunter/SPV), a religiously pro-American concept album of epic, flag-hoisting, war-celebrating power metal. It opens with a "Star-Spangled Banner" that's nothing like Jimi's and ends with a fantastically detailed three-part suite on the theme of the Battle of Gettysburg. That's where you have to go for any acknowledgment of the complexity of patriotism: as bandleader Jon Schaffer points out in an introductory essay, there were nearly as many American casualties in those three days as in the whole of the Vietnam war, a gory achievement made possible by the dead on both sides being technically American. Tim "Ripper" Owens, the latter-day Judas Priest singer whose story inspired the movie Rock Star, is the band's new front man, and he rises to the more structurally challenging material by shaping his otherworldly wail (part opera, part Nazgul, part imitation of a guitar imitating a jet engine) into something at least derivative of newer sources. Less jingoistic listeners will just have to come to terms with enjoying the hell of out of what makes them squirm. In the middle slot on this bill are Finnish thrashers Children of Bodom, who get away with more giddy synth fun than they have a right to on last year's vicious Hate Crew Deathroll (Century Media)--probably because they play so damn fast no nitpicker can keep up. Never underestimate how clever you have to be to burn through so many ideas so quickly. Evergrey opens this all-ages show. Tuesday, April 20, 6:30 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Toni Harkonen.