DJ JC Green of Metal Messiah Radio's "Heavy Metal Thunder" show recently conducted an interview with vocalist Stu Block of American power metallers ICED EARTH. You can now listen to the chat using the audio player below.
Of special interest to long-time fans are two songs on "Dystopia" (the title track and "Tragedy and Triumph") that feature the return of the "Something Wicked" storyline and Set Abominae who, when last seen in "The Crucible of Man" (2008), had taken his position as ruler of the world. "The opening song is a step back timeline-wise from the 'Come What May' track," said Schaffer. "'Come What May' [the last track on 'Crucible'] sets the scenario that it's up to us and the decisions we make that will determine the future of the human race. These two songs [on 'Dystopia'] take place at a time when people are in highly controlled prison-like city states, and their eventual emancipation in the closer, 'Tragedy and Triumph'." In an uncanny case of art imitating life, Schaffer said Set Abominae fit perfectly with the general theme of "Dystopia". "I remember it hit me like a ton of bricks in '97, the whole 'Something Wicked' story did," Schaffer said. "I thought, 'Man, this is going to be so cool.' Many years later, we were on tour for 'Crucible' and we were doing an interview over in Eastern Europe. A buddy of mine said, 'You know, Jon, this whole 'Something Wicked' thing could be true.' I thought about it a moment and said, 'Well, I don't know about that. But there are some creepy parallels in contemporary life.'" "So as I was thinking about all of the great movies, albums, and books with dystopian themes, I remembered that conversation and it occurred to me that the 'Something Wicked' story could continue in a few tracks here very nicely," Schaffer said. Schaffer admits the recording of "Dystopia" has been especially challenging because of the band's summer festival gigs requiring him to criss-cross the ocean numerous times. Despite the challenges, Schaffer says working with new vocalist Stu Block is "a pleasure." "You just can't ask for a better attitude," said Schaffer. "Stu is so excited to be here. He brings a youthful exuberance to the band, which is a lot of fun. And he's a real dude. He's down to earth, and willing to try anything that Jim [Morris, co-producer, engineer] or I throw at him. He's stepping into the shoes in a very natural way." Schaffer continued: "We're opening up a part of his voice and a style of singing that he didn't even really know he had. We're exploring this whole new range. And we're just getting started. I believe Stu will continue to grow and has the potential to grow into one of the greats, one of the guys that will go down in metal history. If he stays on this course, with the attitude that he has, his willingness to learn, and his passion, he's destined for really great things. I firmly believe that." "Dystopia" is scheduled for release in Europe on October 17 and in the U.S. on October 18 via Century Media Records. Two bonus tracks are also being recorded for inclusion on special editions of the album. The release of "Dystopia" will be followed by the most extensive world tour ICED EARTH has ever undertaken. The European leg of the 2011-2012 "World Dystopia Tour" has been posted on the band's official web site, and all official social-media sites. The trek begins October 30 in Bochum, Germany.