Even with the departure of lead singer Matt Barlow, Iced Earth continues to soldier on and will release a new album this fall called Dystopia with Into eternity lead singer Stu Block taking on vocals. Dystopia is a themed album about dystopian society and even references several famous dystopian movies like Soylent green, V for vendetta and Dark city.
Here are some quotes from Iced Earth rhythm guitarist and lead song writer Jon Schaffer.
About the theme of the album:
“I’ve always been fascinated by the darker side of life,” Schaffer said during a break from master tracking ICED EARTH‘s forthcoming CD. “Movies like ‘Metropolis’, ‘Brazil’, and ‘The Matrix’ resonate with me. The same for albums like ‘2112’, ‘The Wall’, and, of course, ‘Operation: Mindcrime’. Their images of a soulless, repressive society stuck with me over the years. It must be the sci-fi fan in me.”
Another interesting thing is that two of the new songs are about Iced Earth’s unofficial mascot Set Abominae. The something wicked albums were supposed to tell the entire story of Set but it seems we aren’t done yet with the destroyer of man.
Here is what Schaffer had to say about the return of Set Abominae:
“The opening song is a step back timeline-wise from the ‘Come What May’ track,” said Schaffer. “‘Come What May’ [the last track on‘Crucible’] sets the scenario that it’s up to us and the decisions we make that will determine the future of the human race. These two songs [on‘Dystopia’] take place at a time when people are in highly controlled prison-like city states, and their eventual emancipation in the closer,‘Tragedy and Triumph’.”
Schaffer on how Set fits perfectly with the dystopian theme of the new album:
“I remember it hit me like a ton of bricks in ’97, the whole ‘Something Wicked’ story did,” Schaffer said. “I thought, ‘Man, this is going to be so cool.’ Many years later, we were on tour for ‘Crucible’ and we were doing an interview over in Eastern Europe. A buddy of mine said, ‘You know,Jon, this whole ‘Something Wicked’ thing could be true.’ I thought about it a moment and said, ‘Well, I don’t know about that. But there are some creepy parallels in contemporary life.
So as I was thinking about all of the great movies, albums, and books with dystopian themes, I remembered that conversation and it occurred to me that the ‘Something Wicked’ story could continue in a few tracks here very nicely”
And finally Jon talks about how new singer Stu Block is fitting into the band and how his vocals are coming along.
“You just can’t ask for a better attitude,” said Schaffer. “Stu is so excited to be here. He brings a youthful exuberance to the band, which is a lot of fun. And he’s a real dude. He’s down to earth, and willing to try anything that Jim [Morris, co-producer, engineer] or I throw at him. He’s stepping into the shoes in a very natural way.”
He went on to say:
“We’re opening up a part of his voice and a style of singing that he didn’t even really know he had. We’re exploring this whole new range. And we’re just getting started. I believe Stu will continue to grow — and has the potential to grow — into one of the greats, one of the guys that will go down in metal history. If he stays on this course, with the attitude that he has, his willingness to learn, and his passion, he’s destined for really great things. I firmly believe that.”
All of this sounds pretty cool to me. While I’m sad that one of my favorite singers Matt Barlow is no longer in the band I think Stu Block should do a very awesome job. The whole dystopian future theme has been done to death by many metal bands already but I’m sure that Iced Earth will make the theme fresh.
Dystopia will be released on October 18th.