Iced Earth Founder Is Glad He Decided to Hire New Vocalist
Today power metal giants Iced Earth released 'Dystopia,' their 10th studio album. The 10-song collection marks the debut of new vocalist Stu Block, also of Canadian act Into Eternity. Some of the lyrics on 'Dystopia' were inspired by films, a passion of Iced Earth guitarist-songwriter Jon Shaffer.
"On this new album, the films that I focused on from a lyrical and songwriting point were 'Equilibrium,' 'Dark City,' 'V for Vendetta,' and 'Soylent Green,' to name a few," Shaffer tells Noisecreep. "It's not really that 'Dystopia' is a concept album, but it's got a theme running through six of its songs. That would be a dystopian type of vibe in them. You know – the dark future for humanity kind of idea.
"But then again, the album also has other lyrical ideas on it. There are songs that carry a message of hope in them. Some of this stuff is very dark, so I wanted to also include something that inspired hope. There's a song called 'Tragedy and Triumph' that ends the album on a positive note. That's a first for me. I usually end Iced Earth albums with an epic, darker kind of track. This song is about seven minutes and is in a major key, something else I don't do often. But it works for this album," says Schaffer.
Noisecreep asks the veteran guitarist how familiar Block, his new vocalist, was with Iced Earth. "He actually grew up a big fan of the band. I think he first discovered Iced Earth during our 'Burnt Offerings' (1995) days, so he's been into all of our stuff. I think he fits into the band perfectly. What I love about him is his willingness to try anything in the studio. This is a different singing style than he has done before. I've been pushing him since March to use the middle range of his voice and I think he did an amazing job on the new record. It's become really natural for him and his improvement from the writing process to the recording has been amazing to see.
"You have to remember that in Into Eternity Stu did a lot of the lower death metal kind of vocals to the high-pitched Halford stuff. The middle range of his voice was untapped until he joined Iced Earth. I can't wait for everyone to hear what he's done on our record," Shaffer excitingly tells Noisecreep.
When it was announced that Block would be taking over the empty Iced Earth vocal slot, many of the band's hardcore fans questioned the move. "A lot of people thought I lost my mind. They were saying things like, "Iced Earth is going to go death metal now." But you gotta give me more credit than that. I wouldn't invite someone into the band that didn't fit. I've been doing this a long time and I know what works. I'm really happy Stu is with us."
Iced Earth's 'Dystopia' is available now via Century Media Records.