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The traditional, intense, no compromise of overblown Metal purveyed by ICED EARTH has seen the band rise from an obscure mid eighties indie band to legend status in Germany and mainland Europe. Musically the band has developed from formative years delivering Power Thrash to more refined, yet still none the less heavy, melodically charged Heavy Metal.

The band began life in Indiana during 1984 titled PURGATORY with a teenage garage band line-up of vocalist Gene Adam, guitarists Jon Schaffer and Bill Owen, bassist Dave Abell and drummer Greg Seymour. Another ex-PURGATORY man bassist Richard Bateman also made a fleeting appearance and he was later to find prominence in AGENT STEEL and NASTY SAVAGE. As PURGATORY three demos saw release, 1985's four song debut 'Burning Oasis', the two track 'Psychotic Dreams' that same year and 'Horror Show' in 1986. Further recordings proper came in the form of the 'Horror Show' demo featuring one new composition 'Dracula' allied with two reworks of tracks 'Jack' and 'In Jason's Mind', both from the 'Psychotic Dreams' demo.

As the transition from PURGATORY to ICED EARTH began the band were still very much a horror shock outfit wearing cassocks onstage and dousing their audience in liver and blood as part of the theatrics. Thankfully these tactics were soon resigned to the past as ICED EARTH concentrated more on the music.

ICED EARTH's first official effort was the tape that secured their career and landed them a deal with Germany's Century Media Records. The 'Enter The Realm' demo comprising tracks 'Colors', 'Enter The Realm', 'Nightmares', To Curse The Sky', 'Solitude' and 'Iced Earth'. ICED EARTH also made an appearance on the 'Metal Mercenaries' compilation album with a song produced by ex-SAVATAGE bassist Keith Collins.

First commercial product, a a Tom Morris produced self-titled album, arrived in November 1990. Seymour was briefly replaced by Mike McGill for a European tour after which McGill was unceremoniously fired and the band also brought in drummer Richie Sechiarri as ICED EARTH struggled to keep a tight rein on their drummers. The second release 'Night Of The Stormrider', cut at Fullersound Studios once again with Tom Morris behind the desk also saw John Greely taking the role of frontman although predictably his tenure was short. Overall, the sonic value of this second offering was vastly improved over the debut, greatly improving the band's prospects. 'Night Of The Stormrider' found issue in Europe in 1991 but US fans had to wait until April 1992.

April 1995's 'Burnt Offerings' saw Rodney Beasley on drums and the induction of new vocalist Matt Barlow, a man who would lend ICED EARTH not only a degree of stability but an instantly recognisable vocal and visual presence. Prior to joining ICED EARTH Barlow had fronted the Florida act CAULDRON, a band which included PESSIMIST guitarist Kelly McLauchlin. With 'Burnt Offerings', laid down at the famous Morrisound complex in Tampa, Jon Schaffer took on co-production responsibilities alongside Tom Morris. ICED EARTH impacted upon Germany in June of 1995 as part of the 'Summer Metal meetings' festivals ranked alongside RUNNING WILD, GAMMA RAY, GRAVE DIGGER, RAGE and GLENMORE.

For the groundbreaking 1996 'Dark Saga' album ICED EARTH shedding their Thrash leanings for a drop in pace, recorded minus a permanent drummer, employing the services of studio engineer Mark Prator. 'Dark Saga' hung on a concept developed from comic book artist Todd McFarlane's 'Spawn', with female vocal embellishments on the track 'A Question Of Heaven' courtesy of Matt Barlow's sister Kate. Digipack versions added a bonus cut in a rendition of JUDAS PRIEST's 'The Ripper'. Abell quit soon after this release but oddly Keith Menser featured in the accompanying band photograph, despite not going on any further with the band.

1997 release 'Days Of Purgatory' is a collection of re-worked tracks from the band's 'Enter The Realm' demo and cuts from the first two albums. Drums on this outing came courtesy of ORACLE's Brent Smedley with James MacDonough on bass guitar. 1998 had ICED EARTH relocating from Florida to Indiana and putting in an almost triumphant performance at the German Wacken open air festival as the 'Something Wicked This Way Comes' album cracked the German charts at number 19. For this album Mark Prator once again manned the drums and the 19 year old Larry Tarnowski usurped Shawver. Follow up, the ambitious treble live album 'Live In Athens', recorded in front of 120'000 fans, gave ICED EARTH a Greek number one. Recording line up for this opus comprised Barlow, Schaffer, Tarnowski, OPPOSITE EARTH's Rick Risberg on keyboards and a returning Brent Smedley.

Quite spectacularly Schaffer's side project DEMONS & WIZARDS, a union with BLIND GUARDIAN's Hansi Kürsch blew the European charts wide open even scoring the guitarist a further number one in Greece. DEMONS & WIZARDS toured on the festival circuit with CONTROL DENIED / DEATH drummer Richard Christy.

By mid 2000, without a permanent drummer yet again as Smedley opted out to forge TEMPEST REIGN in Florida, ICED EARTH pulled in Christy for live commitments. Ever industrious Christy also found time to commit to his side project band BURNING INSIDE with ACHERON's Michael Estes and BLACK WITCHERY's Steve Childers.

ICED EARTH's 'Horror Show' album found Christy being inducted into the ranks officially along with former DEATH and SADUS bassist Steve DiGeorgio. The interim 'Melancholy' mini album included cover versions of BAD COMPANY's 'Shooting Star', BLACK SABBATH's 'Electric Funeral' and JUDAS PRIEST's 'The Ripper'.

James MacDonough, a Florida scene veteran of such acts as MAD AXE, DELTA 9, INVADER, ORACLE and BRUTAL ASSAULT, joined the ICED EARTH clan as touring bassist for mid 2001. 'Horror Show' saw the band topping the Greek national charts yet again and with stronger than previous European chart positions in most territories.

Touring in America was to have stepped up significantly for the band when they were announced as openers to the JUDAS PRIEST and ANTHRAX tour. However, the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11th resulted in the cancellation of this entire tour.

Century Media weighed in with the gargantuan 'Dark Genesis' box set to close 2001. The lavish package comprised of remastered versions of early albums, the 'Enter The Realm' demo plus a bonus tribute disc 'Tribute To The Gods'.

This latter disc would be released separately during 2002 and saw ICED EARTH taking on 'Creatures Of The Night' and 'God Of Thunder' by KISS, 'Number Of The Beast' and 'Hallowed Be Thy Name' by IRON MAIDEN, 'Highway To Hell' and 'It's A Long Way To The Top' by AC/DC, 'Burnin' For You' and 'Cities On Flame (With Rock n' Roll)' from BLUE ÖYSTER CULT, 'Screaming For Vengeance' by JUDAS PRIEST, 'Dead Babies' by ALICE COOPER and BLACK SABBATH's 'Black Sabbath'.

The band's headline 'Feel The Horror' European tour would commence in Hardenberg, Holland on the 17th January 2002. It would then be back to their homeland for a run of headline dates kicking off on April 8th at the Everson Theater in Indianapolis. Strong support on these shows would come from Colorado label mates JAG PANZER and Swedish Deathsters IN FLAMES.

In late 2002 Richard Christy sessioned on demos for WYKKED WITCH. The drummer would also be revealed as a participant in a brand new band side venture billed as LEASH LAW, an alliance with WICKED WAYS and ROB ROCK musicians guitarist RICK RENSTROM and bassist Steve Eldar with CRIMSON GLORY and SEVEN WITCHES singer Wade Black. Meantime ICED EARTH, signing to the SPV label, set 'The Glorious Burden' as the title of a forthcoming new studio album. Just upfront of the recording process the band severed ties with guitarist Larry Tarnowski.

ICED EARTH fans would be shocked to learn that longstanding singer Matt Barlow had opted out of the band in June of 2003, a decision that had apparently been taken as far back as December the previous year. The vocalist left to pursue a Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice Administration. Press statements revealed that Barlow's vocals on 'The Glorious Burden' were to be wiped and a new vocalist sought to complete the album. Meantime the prolific EYEWITNESS, MILLENNIUM and MONARCH guitarist RALPH SANTOLLA, having previously sessioned for the band, was announced as joining ICED EARTH as a new member.

By July it was apparently revealed that the new ICED EARTH singer was none other than former JUDAS PRIEST frontman Tim 'Ripper' Owens. However, Jon Schaffer soon made it known that Owens had been hired to record vocals for 'The Glorious Burden' album on a session basis and, indeed, even before he had lost his position with JUDAS PRIEST. Although Schaffer sounded caution in regard to Owens exact status with the band initially a subsequent official release confirmed the singer had joined the band. 'The Glorious Burden' broke into the Billboard charts at no. 145, selling 8,626 copies in its first week of release.

In outside activity, RALPH SANTOLLA featured as guest soloist for the song 'Forgotten Demise' on Toronto Metal outfit WARMACHINE's 2004 debut 'The Beginning Of The End'. European mainland gigs for ICED EARTH in 2004 had the group uniting with high profile acts THUNDERSTONE and PRIMAL FEAR. However, these gigs would be postponed as Schaffer had to undergo surgery for a lower back problem. An extensive North American trek throughout April and May had the band partnered with Finns CHILDREN OF BODOM and Swedish Progressive Metal band EVERGREY. Richard Christy bailed out mid tour and ICED EARTH drafted Bobby Jarzombek of SAN ANTONIO SLAYER, RIOT, SPASTIC INK and HALFORD repute as a quickfire replacement. Japanese dates were set to follow but shows scheduled for late May in Tokyo and Osaka were then pulled due to Christy's departure. The band returned for a second North American leg throughout the Summer partnered with TRIVIUM and BEYOND THE EMBRACE.

In related news, the former ICED EARTH team of vocalist Gene Adam, bassist Dave Abell and Mark Prator on drums, along with guitarist Bill Owen of the pre-ICED EARTH group PURGATORY, forged a brand new band project tentatively (and wryly) dubbed UNEARTHED. The group soon cut a two song demo comprising 'Fire In The Sky' and 'Unearthed'.

Ralph Santolla left ICED EARTH in June, promptly joining SEBASTIAN BACH's solo band alongside another erstwhile ICED EARTH man drummer Mark Prator. The ex-guitarist also revealed future plans for a concept album entitled 'Ex Cathedra', in a proposed alliance with in talks with bassist Steve DiGiorgio of TESTAMENT, SADUS, DEATH and CONTROL DENIED, Gene Hoglan of STRAPPING YOUNG LAD, DARK ANGEL and DEATH together with Tom Englund from EVERGREY.

ICED EARTH's August 2004 compilation set, 'The Blessed And The Damned', featured two discs of remastered tracks clad in an elaborate piece of artwork from Russian artist Leo Hao so constructed as to allow the purchaser to choose angels or demons for the front cover. In September bassist James MacDonough opted out to join MEGADETH. Meantime the ex-ICED EARTH quota of SEBASTIAN BACH's band increased as Steve DiGiorgio joined the fold. Tim Owens used the ICED EARTH demos to cut solo demo tracks with producer Jim Morris at Morrisound Studios in Florida.

In November ex-ICED EARTH guitarist RALPH SANTOLLA made a public statement revealing that he was suffering from degenerative condition in the bones of his jaw. Costly treatment would include bone grafts and reconstructive surgery and to offset some of the medical bills a benefit concert in Tampa, headlined by SEBASTIAN BACH, would be scheduled for January of 2005. That same month Bobby Jarzombek laid down drums for a new DEMONS & WIZARDS album whilst Tim Owens, also using Jarzombek's services, would be tracking solo material with 13 FACES and SPAWN guitarist John Comprix billed as BEYOND FEAR. The singer also lent vocals to a version of BLACK SABBATH's 'War Pigs' included on the MICHAEL SCHENKER 'Heavy Hitters' album. In May SEBASTIAN BACH's ties into ICED EARTH strengthened further when he recruited Bobby Jarzombek onto the drum stool.

In mid 2005 Jon Schaffer was ready to reveal his ambitions for the next ICED EARTH opus. Once again featuring Tim Owens on vocals, the guitarist's vision called for a conclusion to the 'Something Wicked This Way Comes' saga. June 2006 brought news of another new entrant into the band, former SLIK HELVETIKA and NAUGHTY NAUGHTY guitarist ERNIE CARLETTI. The six-stringer had also issued a solo effort in 2001 dubbed 'Symphony Of The Night'.

Unfortunately the entrance of this latest musician threw the band into controversy when, on September 18th, Ernie Carletti was arrested in connection with kidnapping, weapons possession the rape of a 19 year-old University of Delaware student on May 22nd 2003. The guitarist was held at Howard Young Prison on a $355,000-dollar cash bond. On October 12th ICED EARTH announced they had drafted a new guitarist, Tim Mills from Devon in the UK. Designer of the Bare Knuckle pick up range, Mills prior musical experience included membership of the ELKIE BROOKS band and OZZY OSBOURNE tribute band OZZMOSIS.

Jon Schaffer revealed February 2007 recording plans included a complete re-recording of the 'Something Wicked' trilogy, the first two installments entitled 'Framing Armageddon (Something Wicked Part 1)' and 'Revelation Abomination Something Wicked (Part 2)'. MA KELLEY man Bo Wallace was announced as having supplied bass guitar but subsequently Jon Schaffer revealed this latest recruit had bowed out due to "family health issues" and that he had performed all bass parts. WINTER'S BANE, SEVEN WITCHES and BEYOND FEAR bass player Dennis Hayes then enrolled. Another change in the roster came in late March, when guitarist Tim Mills bowed out. An opening single, 'Overture Of The Wicked', was set for May issue. Meantime, former ICED EARTH frontman Matt Barlow joined Danish act PYRAMAZE in April.

Framing Armageddon (Something Wicked Part 1)' landed at number 78 on the US Billboard charts in September, selling over 7,800 copies in its first week of sale, and entered the German charts at 19. ICED EARTH headlined Europe in October supported by DARK TRANQUILLITY. The band was packaged with LAMB OF GOD and HEAVEN AND HELL for UK shows in major arenas during November.

In a major turnaround, it was revealed on 11th December that ICED EARTH had ejected Ripper Owens and duly re-recruited Matthew Barlow as frontman. Dennis Hayes would also be ousted at the same time.

With anticipation amongst fans regarding a brand new ICED EARTH album, 2008 opened on a sour note on 13th January when former guitarist Ernie Carletti was sentenced to 33 years in prison for his May 2003 crime. Meantime, the band advertised for a "deeply passionate and motivated" bass guitarist to complete their line-up.

On 22nd February Century Media Records issued a leviathan box set entitled 'Slave To The Dark - The Century Media Years' encompassing 14 albums to date plus the 'Alive In Athens' DVD. 'Night Of The Stormrider' added a live bonus track, 'Burnt Offerings' included an alternate mix of the entire album, 'The Dark Saga' hosted two bonus tracks, 'Something This Way Wicked Comes' included three bonus songs, whilst both 'Alive In Athens' and 'Horror Show' were boosted with the inclusion of an extra song each. That same month it was learned ex-ICED EARTH singer Ripper Owens had joined YNGWIE MALMSTEEN's band.

Freddie Vidales of San Antonio's INFUSION joined the ICED EARTH ranks as their new bassist in March. The first results of the new line-up were delivered in June with the single 'I Walk Among You'. This also featured re-works of 'Setian Massacre' and 'The Clouding' with newly incorporated vocals from Barlow.On the live front the band debuted as headliners of the 'Chicago Powerfest' in Mokena, Illinois on 2nd May, followed by a special guest slot to NIGHTWISH on the 9th at the Centre de Foires in Quebec.

ICED EARTH summer 2008 festival appearances included the 'Rock Hard' festival in Gelsenkirchen, Germany in May, 'Hellfest' at Clisson, France, 'Bang Your Head' in Balingen, Germany, 'Grasspop Metal Meeting' at De Boeretand in Dessel, Belgium and 'Gods Of Metal' in Bologna, Italy in June, the 'Via De La Plata' event at Albergue Juvenil in Merida, Spain and 'Rock 'Em All' show at the Lykabetus Theater in Athens, Greece during July and 'Bloodstock Open Air' it Catton Hall in Derbyshire, England in August. Spotted inbetween these appearances would be a series of supports to JUDAS PRIEST in the Netherlands, Switzerland and Germany.

The album 'The Crucible Of Man (Something Wicked Part II)' arrived during early September. ICED EARTH's Los Angeles show, which was originally booked at The Avalon for 24th October, was moved up to The Wiltern Theatre due to overwhelming ticket demand. Before the end of the year Jon Schaffer revealed ICED EARTH had finalised their contract with SPV Steamhammer Records.

SAXON and ICED EARTH teamed up for a European co-headlining tour in February 2009 hitting France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria, Italy and Spain.

Garry Sharpe-Young

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