ICED EARTH founder, songwriter, guitarist and producer Jon Schaffer recently reunited with former ICED EARTH vocalist Matt Barlow to celebrate the holiday season as only they can. The duo returns as the SCHAFFER/BARLOW PROJECT and this time are putting their unique spin on five Christmas classics and two ICED EARTH songs.
"Winter Nights" was born out of a long-standing desire between Schaffer and Barlow to work together again. The idea to work on holiday songs was interesting to both guys. The EP features their unique spin on five Christmas classics, including "Silent Night", "Little Drummer Boy" and "We Three Kings", the latter of which can be streamed below, as well as new interpretations of two ICED EARTH songs, "Watching Over Me" and "I Died For You".
"Winter Nights" is available in numerous configurations on Kickstarter and every CD purchase comes with a second bonus 5.1 Surround Sound mix of the EP. The artwork was created by Sun Khamunaki. The SCHAFFER/BARLOW PROJECT plan to release all versions of the EP in time for the holiday season barring any delays due to recent global events. Regardless of the global situation, backers of the campaign will receive their album in 24-bit digital audio as a download on November 15.
Schaffer and Barlow's first collaborative recording since 2008 will feature the following songs:
01. We Three Kings
02. Silent Night
03. Do You Hear What I Hear?
04. Little Drummer Boy
05. I Died For You (Winter 2020)
06. Watching Over Me (Winter 2020)
07. Silent Night (Traditional)
In a video message announcing the project, Barlow said: "This is something that Jon and I had been talking about for many years. It just so happens that it's the right time. These are some Christmas classics that we've decided to do, and also add some reimaginings of some ICED EARTH songs in there with it. So it's really gonna be pretty damn cool, man."
Schaffer added: "The idea, for whatever reason, popped in my head, and I called Matt. And I was in the middle of another production, so we had this short window of time; we couldn't bring you, really, a full-length album at this moment. But if you guys are into the idea, we definitely would like to do more of this in the future. There's other classic songs that we can rework from our past and from holiday songs and new originals and whatever. So, basically, everything's on the table; we just wanna see if you guys are into where we're going with this. And as weird as this year has been, hopefully it will give you guys some hope. So it's gonna be really awesome.
"We're taking some classic big holiday songs and doing our thing with it — making it very theatrical and epic sounding, and heavy in some parts and spooky in others, beautiful," he continued. "We have two versions of 'Silent Night' — one more traditional and one very much something we would do, kind of what you would expect from us."
ICED EARTH played its final show with Barlow at the 2011 edition of the Wacken Open Air festival in Wacken, Germany.
Barlow announced his departure from ICED EARTH in March 2011. In a heartfelt statement, he cited his commitment to his family and the need for ICED EARTH to tour more as the reasons for his retirement; however, he committed to performing with ICED EARTH on all 2011 European festival dates, including Wacken Open Air.
Current ICED EARTH singer Stu Block (formerly of INTO ETERNITY) made his live debut with the band in November 2011.
ICED EARTH's latest album, "Incorruptible", came out in June 2017 via Century Media.