About two weeks ago, Matt Barlow announced his retirement from Iced Earth. Today, the band named Into Eternity vocalist Stu Block as his replacement.
Frontman Jon Schaffer describes how he first ran into Block:
"ICED EARTH was backstage waiting to go on," said Schaffer. "We heard one of Stu's incredible wails. I remember turning to Matt and saying, 'Damn, that dude has serious range.'"
So while ICED EARTH's management team sifted through the growing number of prospective vocalists, Schaffer got in touch with Block.
After several phone conversations with the then-prospective ICED EARTH vocalist, Schaffer asked his manager to e-mail Block several key ICED EARTH songs, with the vocals stripped. Block went into his studio and recorded himself singing, then sent the files back to the team.
The result landed Block an intense two days at Schaffer's studio where the two musicians hit it off.
"I felt a lot of chemistry between us, we knocked out a couple of great original pieces of music in no time," said Schaffer. "He's very good at coming up with catchy melodies, and will help with lyrical duties as well. There's no doubt Stu has an amazing vocal range and a lot of energy, but he also has the touring experience, which is a big plus for our plans of performing in all corners of the world."
In addition, Schaffer said Block has what ICED EARTH needs in a front man: "stage presence that includes high energy, passion, and focused rage."
Schaffer added, "Stu is charismatic and understands the depth and varying emotions in ICED EARTH's music. So he will embody not only the emotion of our songs, but he will be able to perform them in a dynamic way. I believe fans are in for some incredible records and live shows in the coming years."
New ICED EARTH vocalist Stu Block concurred: "ICED EARTH fans are wonderful, wonderful people," he said. "The music is so passionate. So they're passionate, and very loyal to the band. I am, too. I'm a huge fan of ICED EARTH myself. So I share that same passion, and I will show it on stage. I think the fans are really going to dig it."
Block continued: "It's a huge honor to be doing this, to be part of this team. It's a dream come true, for sure.”
Schaffer is totally stoked. "This is a new beginning," he said. "It's game-on time. ICED EARTH is going to record and tour like it never has before. The band is really amped-up and ready to hit the ground running in November."
And to prove it, ICED EARTH has released the European leg of a world tour that will take the band to countries it has never previously played. All told, the 2011-2012 ICED EARTH world tour will be the largest the band has undertaken since its inception.