Sunday, March 8, 2009


The title is "Music", for those of you who can't decipher intentional misspellings that litter the Intarwebz. LolCats started it all, and now I have friends who speak about 80% of the time in LolSpeak. It's crazy.

Anyway. Let's talk about music, shall we? Or one band in particular, which is on my agenda.

Iced Earth. Ever heard of them?

*cricket chirps*

Didn't think so. Not many have. They've been around since the 80s, and they released their 9th studio album last year, but they are very underground. They still have a heavy 80s metal sound, but you know what? I love it anyway.

Iced Earth is the love child of Jon Schaffer, who fell hard for heavy metal at the tender young age of 4 in the suburbs of Indiana. His sister nurtured this love, and his father sealed his fate at the age of 11, taking him to go see KISS live in concert. It was all downhill from there.

Schaffer's drive to make music was so strong, his desire to break free of authority so intense, that at the age of 16, with nothing but a clunker of a car and a few hundred dollars to his name, he ran away to Florida to live his dream. And on the streets of Tampa, he grew up fast, spending his days as a laborer in the hot sun and his nights building his vision of a band.

The band now known as Iced Earth started off as Purgatory, but was later changed for two reasons: One, because another band claimed they held the name first, and secondly, as a tribute to Schaffer's best friend who was killed in a motorcycle accident shortly before he left Indiana.

Iced Earth came to be in 1988 (the year I was born... coincidence? I THINK NOT!), and released their first album, their self-titled debut, in 1991.

As bold and colorful as their history is, I'm not going to quote it all in this post. Actually, I started this post intent on discussing the music itself, the albums, and the concepts of some of them.

Iced Earth's music can be classified as progressive metal, with a heavy 80s influence to their sound. Jon Schaffer writes all the music and lyrics, himself playing rhythm guitar and providing back up vocals, laying the ground work with their debut album for a unique sound. A force to be reckoned with.

"Night Of The Stormrider" hit shelves in 1992, a concept album that tells the story of a man betrayed by religion, turning his back on it in anger. The darker, sinister forces of nature reach out to him, using his rage to bring destruction upon the Earth. He feels no remorse for what he does, and upon his death, numbly accepts his fate in Hell.

After a break of a few years, "Burnt Offerings" released in '95, with their third drummer and third singer as well. Matthew Barlow took the band to new heights with his musical abilities, screaming, growling, singing, all the while infusing the music with deep amounts of emotion. It's a heavy, angry album, and you can tell from listening to it that the band had experienced some tough times.

.... You know what? I'm writing this up like it's a presentation for a public speaking class or something. Not gonna do that. Instead of taking you through each album on the timeline and discussing their history, I'm just going to go to town and explain certain points that I hit upon every time I discuss the band. And some of these points have turned professors into fans simply because of the topics covered and the creative skill used in making the albums. At the end of the post, I'll even throw in a few YouTube videos that you can check out, see if you like the sound.

Comic book fans. You like Spawn? Yeah? Iced Earth put out a concept album in 1996 titled "The Dark Saga", which tells the popular story of a man who sells his soul to return to his true love in the mortal world. Now, I never got into the story of Spawn, but I've had friends who have listen to the album, and they agree whole-heartedly: the deep, melodic sound of this album fits perfectly with the story. With tracks like "I Died For You", you really feel the pain that Spawn felt at losing all he cherished in life. Hell, there's a song for that little midget bastard Clown: "Violate". Very fitting. The album wraps up with "A Question of Heaven," almost 8 minutes of soul-wrenching musical beauty that sums up the story quite nicely. Truly one of the most, if not the most epic album they've put out.

The scary stories that we're told as children... The stories of the werewolf, Jack the Ripper, the mummy... The stories we grow up to absorb through the media... Frankenstein, the Phantom of the Opera, Dracula... For those with an interest in horror, I present to you: "Horror Show", released in 2001. Each song covers a different topic, and it becomes blatantly obvious that this band has a strong love for the horror genre. They even have a song for Damien, the wicked child from the Omen movies.

After September 11th happened, Matthew Barlow felt his existence was meaningless, living the rock star life when he could be putting his time to good use. So, after Horror Show released, he left the band to be replaced with Tim "the Ripper" Owens of Judas Priest. This also brought a lot of publicity to the band.

With Ripper Owens at the helm, the band released an album that raised a lot of eyebrows and caught a lot of interest.

A history-based album, "The Glorious Burden" covered a wide range of topics. A heavy instrumental rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner" heads the album off, followed by songs covering America's fight for independence from England, and covering the time line of world history. From Attila the Hun's rampage across Europe to the attacks on the World Trade Center, with stops for the Napoleonic War and World War I, everything is covered. The masterpiece of the album, however, is what draws the most attention.

A three-piece, 32-minute epic about the three days of Gettysburg. Blue against grey. Brother against brother. A nation torn in two. I can't say anything else on the subject, really. It's one you have to hear for yourself.

The following year, the band also released a DVD centered around just those three songs. I'm still trying to get my hands on a copy of it. It's very moving music.

I think that's all I can really write about the band and the music. If I've caught your interest with my words, I've posted a couple of YouTube videos with some samples of their music for your listening enjoyment. And you can also check out the band's website for more information.

Also, on a side note: Welcome to my little corner of the Intarwebz, everybody that came over from Jay's place at MArooned. Hopefully this post will catch your interest more than the last did. Hell, Jay, this might catch YOUR interest!

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