After nearly three dedicated decades, Schaffer, drummer Brent Smedley, vocalist Stu Block, bassist Luke Appleton, and new guitarist Jake Dreyer have assembled the fiercest Iced Earth record since 1996 milestone The Dark Saga and 1998’s chart-blazer Something Wicked This Way Comes.
Titled Incorruptible, Iced Earth’s 12th album is inspired not by things political but by things personal. Since Plagues of Babylon landed in 2014 to heaps of praise and chart-topping success, Schaffer and team have weathered proverbial storms. Management shake-ups, Schaffer’s well-publicized and severe neck surgery—he’s since fully recovered—and lineup shifts all played positively into Incorruptible. But that wasn’t always the case.
Written primarily by Schaffer over the course of several months — a process he calls “typical”— Incorruptible finds Iced Earth pivoting off everything they’ve learned—going all the way back to 1990’s Iced Earth—to come away with an album that feels and sounds superlatively heavy metal. And definitely like Iced Earth.
From the Viking-inspired power of opener ‘Great Heathen Army’ to the epic pirate-inspired ‘Black Flag’ to the aggression of ‘Seven Headed Whore’, based on the Whore of Babylon, Incorruptible bestows upon its listeners a ceaseless supply of killer riffs, a cavalcade of righteous vocals, a storm of drums, and continuous volleys of jaw-dropping solos.
Indeed, after 27 years of releasing albums and 666 minutes—or thereabouts—of music, the multi-national band, with Schaffer at the helm, show no signs of slowing down, getting old, or venturing off the deep end.
With a new lineup reconfigured, a newly completed Iced Earth headquarters to call home, a new record in ready for hails and headbangs, all powered by Schaffer’s strong drive and infinite engine, it’s clear Iced Earth are making 2017 their banner year. Songs like ‘Clear the Way,’ ‘Black Flag,’ ‘Raven Wing,’ ‘Ghost Dance (Awaken the Ancestors),’ and ‘Great Heathen Army’ are destined for the halls of heavy metal greatness. In fact, Incorruptible is unique. A contemporary classic. A legendary record barely out of the gate. It just feels like a record of import. Rating: 8/10 stars.