Elkton, MD resident Ernie Carletti has garnered the position of lead guitarist for ICED EARTH, an established American heavy metal band that is preparing for a forthcoming full-length album and subsequent world tour.Mastering his craft beyond 19 years and teaching guitar lessons to 100 students weekly in excess of 16 years, Carletti is equally versed in styles such as classical and jazz but his first love is heavy metal "shredding." The central figure of ICED EARTH is guitarist and songwriter Jon Schaffer, who originally formed the band as PURGATORY in 1984. Though the band has undergone numerous lineup changes since its inception, Schaffer has remained steadfast in his passion to thrash. Schaffer officially announced the addition of Carletti on the band's message board on Friday, June 30. "After auditioning some very good guitar players, I've made a decision," Schaffer said. "The man who will be handling the majority of the guitar solos on the next record as well as touring with us on 'The Wicked World Tour' is an awesome player named Ernie Carletti. He is a world-class player and truly one of the best guitarists I've had the pleasure of meeting and hanging with. We're going to make a good team, I'm sure." For the past two years Carletti has focused his attention on advancing as a performer on the world stage. During a brief stint with Allentown-area band SLIKHELVETIKA, Carletti discovered Impact Artist Promotions and employed their vast array of artist marketing and promotional services. Here Carletti "amped it up" with a full-scale customized IAP artist identity package including web site, live and studio photography, press kits, promotional prints, posters, fliers and more. This package proved to be the catalyst needed to expose his titanic talents to the world. Shortly after, Carletti landed and advanced some key national endorsements the likes of Gibson Gear, Voodoo Amps, Voodoo Lab, Hot Picks USA, TurboTrem and Damage Control. But arguably the most significant proved to be with Bernie Rico Jr. Guitars. According to Carletti, Jon Schaffer was introduced to Carletti's skills through Bernie Rico Jr. Like his father who founded B.C. Rich Guitars, Rico Jr. is a highly respected and talented guitar luthier. Soon after meeting Carletti, Rico Jr. was crafting and distributing two Ernie Carletti signature model guitars (the "Dr. Jekyll" and the "Mr. Hyde") and featuring Carletti in the Bernie Rico Jr. Guitars booth at the 2006 NAMM conference in Anaheim, CA. After getting the call from Rico Jr., Schaffer hit ErnieCarletti.com to see and hear what Carletti was all about. Several lengthy phone calls followed and Carletti was on his way to Schaffer's Indiana home to audition for the part. "I had the pleasure of meeting Jon Schaffer two weeks ago," said Carletti. "We get along great! Jon and his wife welcomed me into their home for the weekend and we had a blast! I am honored to be in ICED EARTH and to share in the recording and world tour of the new record. I want to thank Jon for giving me the chance to play in ICED EARTH, and to Bernie… for hooking the two of us up." Other past projects to which Carletti has contributed his talents include MAZKERADE, OVERSOUL, UFORIA, SCREAM CLAN, NAUGHTY NAUGHTY and BLACKBALL. Joining Schaffer and Carletti in ICED EARTH will be Tim "Ripper" Owens (BEYOND FEAR, ex-JUDAS PRIEST) on vocals and Bobby Jarzombek (HALFORD, SEBASTIAN BACH, ex-RIOT) on drums. Schaffer is currently auditioning bassists to complete the lineup while wrapping up writing for the new album. Schaffer is currently working on a concept album based on the "Something Wicked This Way Comes" story that first appeared on ICED EARTH's 1998 album of the same name. A 2007 release is expected. ICED EARTH's last release was the "Gettysburg (1863)" DVD, which came out in June 2005. The main program, a CGI-rendered video presentation of the epic "Gettysburg" trilogy from 2004's acclaimed album "The Glorious Burden", drew praise from fans and media alike. The DVD was also reportedly being used as a teaching tool in several high schools across the country.
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