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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.

On January 6, 2021, Jon Schaffer was discovered to have taken part in the Capitol Hill Riot, which lead to his arrest by the FBI on January 17th. At the same time, Stu Block made a Facebook post that was interpreted by many as him supporting the riots, although he has since stated that he strongly condemns every aspect of it, and he (along with most of the other members) have since left the band as a result. The image of the band has taken a large hit, and what all this means for their future still remains to be seen.

Related Acts:

Current Line-up:

  • Jon Schaffer - rhythm guitar, backing vocals (1984-2021)
  • Stu Block - lead vocals (2011-2021)
  • Luke Appleton - bass, backing vocals (2012-2021)
  • Brent Smedley - drums (1996-1997, 1998-1999, 2006-2013, 2015-present)
  • Jake Dreyer - lead guitar (2016-2021)


  • 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)
  • 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.
  • Bookends: The synth tune at the beginning and end of Burnt Offerings.
  • Burn the Witch!: "Burning Times" is probably about the European Witch Hunts.
  • 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. Night of the Stormrider tells an original story about a man's quest to destroy his own religion. The Dark Saga is about Spawn, Horror Show about various classic horror films, The Glorious Burden is Horrible History Metal all the way through and the Something Wicked, Dystopia and half of Plagues of Babylon tell another original story about ancient civilsations that existed before man.
  • 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, which is at points almost Black Metal with clean vocals.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Their song Cthulhu mentions Nyarlethotep and Cthulhu.
  • Epic Rocking:
    • The sixteen minute "Dante's Inferno".
    • 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.
  • 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..."
  • 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, as at the last moment he decides not to destroy humanity after seeing all what they have accomplished.
  • Humanity on Trial: "Crucible of Man" is one, with Set Abominae as the judge on their past crimes on his race.
  • 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.
  • Mascot: Set Abominae, who appears on multiple album-covers, namely the "Something Wicked"-cycle ones.
  • 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".
  • Not Christian Rock: The band's music constantly contains themes that are based on biblical parts, with frequent themes betraying god and selling your soul to the devil, and heaven and hell. Night Of The Stormrider, for instance, is loosely based on the story of Lucifer. Jon Schaffer grew up in a religious environment, even going to a Lutheran school, but though fascinated by religion, became strongly disillusioned with it. In addition, original singer Gene Adam went on to become a pastor, and second singer John Greely is a known Christian and his musical project Seventh Servant is explicitly Christian metal. Despite all this, the band is not a Christian Metal band perse.
  • 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 flair, though less specific and aggressively.
  • Putting 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.
  • 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.
  • 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" is about demon judging souls at the gates of the afterlife, "Motivation of Man" is about brutality that humanity reaks across the Universe, Horror Show has multiple songs about the classic movie monsters. 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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