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Music / Iced Earth

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Iced Earth is a Heavy Metal band from the United States that was founded in 1984 by rhythm guitarist Jon Schaffer. Their music tends to be a combination of traditional heavy metal, thrash metal, and Power Metal. Many of their songs alternate between lighter passages and heavier, more aggressive parts. Many of their songs have dark fantasy-based themes and/or involve hell and damnation, although there are exceptions.

Iced Earth's line-up changes very frequently; Jon Schaffer is the only musician who has always been in the band. One of their singers, Matt Barlow, temporarily left the band in 2003, returning in 2008 for The Crucible of Man. While he was gone, Tim "Ripper" Owens (the Replacement Scrappy for Judas Priest) sang in Iced Earth. And the fans raged as much as the Priest fans did during their own Owens era.

Barlow quit again in early 2011, and his replacement is Stu Block from Into Eternity. Block is regarded by many as the best singer Iced Earth has ever had, being able to replicate both the deep vocals of Matt Barlow and the high pitched ones of Ripper, with the mid-range of John Greely.

Jon Schaffer also has two side projects, Demons & Wizards, with Blind Guardian singer Hansi Kürsch, and Sons of Liberty.


They also have two songs in Brütal Legend's soundtrack.

Related Acts:

Current Line-up:

  • Jon Schaffer - rhythm guitar, backing vocals (1984-present)
  • Stu Block - lead vocals (2011-present)
  • Luke Appleton - bass, backing vocals (2012-present)
  • Brent Smedley - drums (1996-1997, 1998-1999, 2006-2013, 2015-present)
  • Jake Dreyer - lead guitar (2016-present)


  • 1990 - Iced Earth
  • 1991 - Night of the Stormrider
  • 1995 - Burnt Offerings
  • 1996 - The Dark Saga
  • 1998 - Something Wicked This Way Comes
  • 2001 - Horror Show
  • 2004 - The Glorious Burden
  • 2004 - The Blessed and the Damned
  • 2007 - Framing Armageddon (Something Wicked Part 1)
  • 2008 - The Crucible of Man (Something Wicked Part 2)
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  • 2011 - Dystopia
  • 2014 - Plagues of Babylon
  • 2017 - Incorruptible


  • Anti Anti Christ: Played with in The Crucible of Man. Set Abominae decides not to destroy humanity after all, but makes it pretty clear that if they fuck up too badly, he's on them.
  • Badass Baritone: Matt Barlow is essentially the living embodiment of this trope, as heard here.
  • Bookends: The synth tune at the beginning and end of Burnt Offerings.
  • Burn the Witch!: "Burning Times" is probably about the European Witch Hunts.
  • Characterization Marches On: For Jon Schaffer, the man himself. In the early 2000s, he was very much a standard patriotic Republican who supported everything Bush did without question. Nowadays, he's more of a libertarian who's much more willing to question the government and is admittedly a lot more willing to acknowledge that he wasn't fully in the right back during his neo-conservative Republican years.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Although IE's music generally has very little swearing, Jon Schaffer has a tendency to do this in interviews.
  • Concept Album: Over half of their albums.note 
  • Cover Version: "Electric Funeral" and "The Ripper" from The Melancholy EP, "The Trooper" and "The Mob Rules" from Dystopia, "Transylvania" from Horror Show, and the entirety of Tribute to the Gods.
  • Darker and Edgier: Burnt Offerings - See Creator Breakdown in Trivia for details.
  • Driven to Suicide: The narrator of "My Own Savior."
  • Eldritch Abomination: Their song Cthulhu mentions Nyarlethotep and Cthulhu.
  • Epic Rocking: Most notably the sixteen minute "Dante's Inferno", but also:
    • Gettysburg 1863: Three songs covering the three days of battle, approximately 30 minutes in total. Epic beyond words.
    • There's also the 'Dark Saga Trilogy' encompassing 'Suffering Scarred', 'Slave to the Dark', and 'A Question of Heaven', in total they're about 15-20 minutes put together.
      • Early classics "When The Night Falls" and "Travel In Stygian" last 8 and 9 minutes respectively.
  • Expy: Stu Block sounds a lot like Matt Barlow, with a bit of John Greely thrown in for good measure.
  • Fighting Your Friend: Hold at All Costs
    "Just a mile or so away
    Is my dearest friend in this world
    He wears the blue, and I, the gray
    And God it hurts me so..."
  • Filk Song: ''The Dark Saga'', Horror Show, Dystopia, and some others.
  • Five-Man Band: The current lineup
  • Getting The Band Back Together: A variation. Most of the group's mid-80s original lineup reformed under their original name "Purgatory" in 2018 as a tribute to the life of their recently deceased bassist Richard Bateman. This lineup consists of Jon Schaffer (rhythm guitar, vocals), Gene Adam (lead vocals) and Bill Owen (lead guitar) though did not include original drummer Greg Seymour, who had issues with Jon Schaffer (which they have since talked through). The group recorded an EP of professional studio recordings of Purgatory songs, which was extremely well received. Due to Iced Earth's deviation from their original thrash sound of Purgatory and the totally different lineup, the two groups are considered distinct and co-exist alongside each other.
  • Grief Song: "Watching Over Me", written about a friend of Jon Schaffer's who died in a motorcycle accident.
  • Heavy Mithril: Many of their songs, but their material ventures more into horror-esque and theological themes than high fantasy.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Set Abominae at the end of The Crucible of Man.
  • Humanity on Trial: With Set Abominae as the judge.
  • Humans Are Bastards: "Motivation of Man" covers humanity's attempt to gain power amongst other lifeforms. Through Warhammer levels of ethnic cleansing.
  • I Am the Band: Again, Jon Schaffer is Iced Earth.
  • Lighter and Softer: Earlier albums are more thrash/power metal and later albums are slightly more radio-friendly hard rock, though still fairly dark and aggressive.
    • Burnt Offerings (1994) is probably their heaviest album, the title track verges on Black Metal with a power metal chorus.
  • Mascot: Set Abominae
  • Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Generally a 7 or an 8, with their ballads often in 5 or 6 territory.
  • Name's the Same: Jon Schaffer has a habit of reusing Purgatory titles for completely different Iced Earth works. "Burning Oasis", "Jack", "Dracula" and "Haunted House" are completely different to Iced Earth songs of those titles. In addition, they also reused the demo title "Horror Show".
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: In "Dante's Inferno", "Angels Holocaust," "The Awakening," "The Coming Curse," and "Damien," though it's not actually Latin.
    • Also "In Sacred Flames", the intro to Crucible of Man (which is real Latin, though it's isolated words rather than sentences).
  • Power Ballad: Several. "I Died For You", "A Question of Heaven" and "Watching Over Me" are probably the best known.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: Night Of The Stormrider takes place from the point of view of a decidedly evil person, who we still feel sorry for as he meets his doom.
  • Protest Song: Little of Iced Earth's main output barring The Glorious Burdennote , but Schaffer's side project Sons of Liberty is very politically charged.
    • Post-Sons of Liberty, the more recent Iced Earth albums have had a more political flare, though less specific and aggressively.
  • Recycled Theme: The song Iced Earth's riff derives from a Purgatory track "The Live Song". Travel In Stygian's riff derives from a Purgatory track "Haunted House" (which is totally different to Iced Earth's song "Haunted House"). "Jekyll And Hyde"'s riff derives from an old Purgatory song (which Iced Earth also demoed) "Plea Of Insanity". 1776 is a rerecording of what was Purgatory's self-titled instrumental. Some of the riffs from "Bladed Chain" were reused in "Pure Evil". The middle eight from Purgatory's song "Dracula" was reused in "Burning Oasis" (neither to be confused with the Iced Earth song Dracula or Purgatory song Burning Oasis, which are totally different). "Stormrider", "Mystical End" and "Winter Nights" are all Purgatory songs that were rewritten after Gene Adam left the band. Matt Barlow wrote new lyrics for "Written On The Walls" when it was recut as "Cast In Stone" on Days Of Purgatory, because ex-vocalist Gene Adam had written the original lyrics. Adam himself reused "Written On The Walls" lyrics in the self-titled song by tshort-lived early 2000s band "Unearthed". Also, the Iced Earth song "Haunted House" was rewritten as "Tearing Down The Wall" on the self-titled Demons And Wizards album.
  • Red-plica Baron: The Glorious Burden is their seventh studio album. It is a concept album, which explores various moments in military history. One of their songs pays tribute to world events such as World War I, being the song "Red Baron/Blue Max" referred to Richthofer and the Pour le Merite medal (nicknamed as the Blue Max by Max Immermann, another famous German Ace Pilot in WWI that won it) respectively.
  • Religion Rant Song: "Brainwashed" and "Disciples of the Lie" are both Type 3.
  • Revolving Door Band: Aside from Jon Schaffer being the only constant member, they have had 5 different singers over the course of 11 albums. First Gene Adam, then John Greely, Matt Barlow, Tim 'Ripper' Owens (who you may know as being Rob Halford's very similar-sounding replacement in Judas Priest), back to Matt, and now Stu Block. They have also had 4 lead guitarist: Randall Shawver, Larry Tarnowski, Ralph Santolla and Troy Steele, respectively, along with 10 drummers and 8 bassists. No two albums have shared the same line-up.
  • Shout-Out: "Desert Rain" contains a cover of the Super Mario Land Ruins Theme.
  • Shown Their Work: The Gettysburg trilogy gives a very long and very detailed overview of the battle of Gettysburg in the American Civil War.
  • Soprano and Gravel: Most known for his immensely gravelly Badass Baritone, Matt Barlow is equally as capable at some astounding high notes. See "A Question of Heaven" for some exemplary displays of both.
  • Sufficiently Advanced Alien: Inverted. The Setians are the original inhabitants of the earth, and the humans are alien invaders.
  • Teen Genius: Jake Dreyer was only 19 when he successfully auditioned for Jag Panzer (though they broke up before he could do anything with them) and was around the same age when he joined White Wizzard.
  • Title-Only Chorus: Pure Evil! Puuuuuuuuuuuure Evil!
  • Villain Song: "Burning Times", "Motivation of Man", along with quite a few songs on "Horror Show". Night of the Stormrider takes place entirely from the point of view of a villain.
  • We Have Reserves: In past interviews, this seemed to legitimately be Schaffer's attitude towards his own bandmates, claiming that each and every one of his bandmates was replaceable, including their most iconic singer Matt Barlow. Not surprisingly, because of this attitude, Iced Earth has had a pretty high turnover rate for band members over the years.

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