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6th July 2017

metal talk
Words: Steve Göldby, Pictures: Ash Phoenix

iced earth

Twelve studio albums into a thirty-two year career to date and Iced Earth have finally broken the mould and produced what may well come to be seen as their definitive work. Until they surpass it in the future, that is.

All the elements came together for the making of 'Incorruptible', starting with a long enforced lay-off for mainman Jon Schaffer, which he states in our conversation below was definitely a factor. When you take a break from something, be it enforced or voluntary, you come back stronger and better at it than you were before and Iced Earth were more than pretty damn good before Jon came off the road to have his damaged shoulder repaired. Now they have moved up another couple of levels.

The revolving door of band members now appears to be well and truly closed too, another huge factor that allowed Iced Earth to create their most stunning album to date. The list of former members was approaching telephone directory size but as we witnessed at Brixton last December, Jon seems to have the ultimate Iced Earth line-up in place now.

Article continues below...

iced earth
You are rising...

However, as Jon rightly points out below, realistically nothing can be classed as permanent and sometimes "life gets in the way" but should this ultra cohesive unit of five manage to go the distance together and the group avoids further personnel changes, the future definitely belongs to Iced Earth.

Future major festival headliners? You bet your life.

Jon cares not about that though and told me in our conversation below:

"The most important thing for me is to write great songs and to make great records. When I'm dead and gone, that's what's going to be there, not a festival performance."

iced earth
This strength inside you...

And they'll certainly be remembered for 'Incorruptible' with it's epic tales of Vikings, Pirates, ancient explorers, native American Indians and much more with extra special mention to the album's final track, 'Clear The Way (December 13th, 1862)', which to these ears is the greatest song that Iced Earth have ever written. You can hear Jon's obvious delight when I tell him this in the interview and hear him 'high-five' me too. The joy on his face at the time was something to behold.

So it should be as well because he and his band of brothers have created a work to be absolutely proud of and I say all this having first discovered Iced Earth in the nineties and lived all previous eleven albums in full. Those records still stand tall and remain more than valid but 'Incorruptible' sees Iced Earth totally excelling themselves.

Those with knowledge of numerology will be aware that twelve is a magical number and 'Incorruptible' sits proudly at the summit of the Iced Earth collection. Everyone will read something unique into this set of rousing anthems and knowing the adversity that the band have faced over the years, one message you can take is: "Winners never quit and quitters never win".

iced earth
With your defiance...

Iced Earth is no one-man show though as Jon readily attests to below. Huge praise is heaped upon Jake Dreyer, who has taken Iced Earth to a new level, Luke Appleton, who has made a major contribution to 'Incorruptible', Brent Smedley, now in his fourth spell with the band and frontman Stu Block, who since being plucked from relative obscurity to replace Matt Barlow, has risen to the very top of the game and become one of the world's leading Metal frontmen. Jon is generous with his compliments to each member.

'Incorruptible' comes with spectacular packaging and artwork. There's a painting for each track amongst thirty-six pages of art which you will find in the 10" box and every one could be an album cover in their own right. Jon proudly states:

"There's never been a Metal album that has this level of art."

iced earth
You will not be broken...

And there's rarely been a Metal album with this level of songcraft, utterly anthemic tunes and sheer number of what will surely become timeless classics. 'Incorruptible' is a major contender for Album Of The Year 2017.

You can hear YouTube clips of songs from 'Incorruptible' below and clips from every track in the interview below. This album is nothing less than a work of art and one of the finest Metal albums made this century. All hail Iced Earth!

iced earth
Your defiance takes your spirit higher...

Jon Schaffer was special guest on Steve Göldby Talks Metal just before the release of 'Incorruptible' and you can hear the whole conversation right here. It's in two parts; in part one, Jon talks about all things Iced Earth and in part two, we run through every track on the new album. The discussion is interspersed with snippets of every song from 'Incorruptible' too.

Iced Earth live:
8th July: Burning Ruins Metal Fest – Terni – Italy
13th July: Rockfabrik, Esch-Sur-Alzette, Luxembourg
14th July: Dong Open Air, Neukirchen-Vluyn, Germany
23rd July: Free&Easy Festival, Munchen, Germany
24th July: Metal Days, Tolmin, Slovenia
4th August: Music & Bike weekend, Geiselwind, Germany
12th August: Alcatraz Festival, Kortrijk, Belgium

'Incorruptible' tracklist:
Great Heathen Army (5:21)
Black Flag (4:56)
Raven Wing (6:25)
The Veil (4:47)
Seven Headed Whore (3.00)
The Relic (Part 1) (4:59)
Ghost Dance (Awaken The Ancestors) (6:35)
Brothers (4:45)
Defiance (4:08)
Clear The Way (December 13th, 1862) (9:30)

Iced Earth line-up:
Jon Schaffer – Rhythm, lead, acoustic guitars, keyboards/MIDI, vocals
Stu Block – Lead vocals
Brent Smedley – Drums, percussion
Luke Appleton – Bass guitar, vocals
Jake Dreyer – Lead guitar


Steve Göldby's Heavy Metal Chronicles, 2008 - 2017


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