In follow up to an item we posted March 28 (but which had surfaced earlier in the month), where it was announced that Matt Barlow was leaving Iced Earth, Century Media posted this follow up: In the wake of vocalist Matt Barlow's retirement, dozens of demos and resumes flooded Iced Earth's management team. But one name kept popping up - Into Eternity vocalist Stu Block, who has been named the new lead singer for Iced Earth.
According to Schaffer, Robert Kampf, founder of Century Media, early on suggested Block, whose band Into Eternity was previously on the CM label. That reminded Schaffer of one night in September, 2008, when Into Eternity opened for Iced Earth.
"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."
"Stu is charismatic and understands the depth and varying emotions in Iced Earth's music," said Schaffer. "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 concurs: "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 continues: "It's a huge honor to be doing this, to be part of this team," he said. "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.
Additional dates will be announced on the official Iced Earth web site, as well as on all official social media.
NOTE: Retired Iced Earth vocalist Matt Barlow will perform with the band on all summer festival dates. New vocalist Stu Block will take over from there, starting with the European leg of Iced Earth's world tour.
The band's long-awaited 6-hour, three-concert live DVD Festivals Of The Wicked is scheduled for release this spring.
The European tour dates, so far, are:
November 01, 2011 -- Melkweg, Amsterdam, NL
November 02, 2011 -- De Pul, Uden, NL
November 03, 2011 -- Trix, Antwerp, BEL
November 04, 2011 -- O2 Shepherds Bush Empire, London, GBR
November 05, 2011 -- O2 Academy, Birmingham, GBR
November 06, 2011 -- O2 Academy, Bristol, GBR
November 08, 2011 -- Alhambra, Paris, FRA
November 09, 2011 -- Transbordeur, Lyon, FRA
November 10, 2011 -- Salamandra 1, Barcelona, ESP
November 11, 2011 -- Sala Heineken, Madrid, ESP
November 12, 2011 -- Rock Star Live, Bilbao, ESP
November 14, 2011 -- Alcatraz, Milano, ITA
November 15, 2011 -- Alpheus, Rome, ITA
November 18, 2011 -- Gagarin 205, Athens, GRE
November 19, 2011 -- Gagarin 205, Athens, GRE
November 20, 2011 -- Principal Club, Thessaloniki, GRE
November 21, 2011 -- Yubileina Hall, Sofia, BUL
November 22, 2011 -- The Silver Church, Bucarest, ROM
November 23, 2011 -- SKC, Belgrade, SER
November 24, 2011 -- Club 202, Budapest, HUN
November 25, 2011 -- Majestic Music Club, Bratislava, SVK
November 26, 2011 -- Stodola, Warsaw, POL
November 27, 2011 -- Forum Palace, Vilnius, LTU
November 29, 2011 -- Milk, Moscow, RUS
December 01, 2011 -- Nosturi, Helsinki, FIN
December 03, 2011 -- The Rock, Copenhagen, DEN
December 04, 2011 -- Markthalle, Hamburg, GER
December 06, 2011 -- X, Herford, GER
December 07, 2011 -- Essigfabrik, Köln, GER
December 08, 2011 -- Backstage Werk, München, GER
December 09, 2011 -- Christmas Metal Festival, Geiselwind, GER
December 10, 2011 -- Z7, Pratteln, SWI
December 11, 2011 -- Rockfabrik, Ludwigsburg, GER
[Source; Century Media, photo: Courtney Roth; Iced Earth website]