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Released: 2017, Century Media Records
Here we are again. Jon Schaffer and his assembled metallians called Iced Earth have returned with their 12th full-length of original material. It’s the third straight album with the irrepressible Stu Block at the mic and you can make a case that this is now one of the most productive eras in Iced Earth’s storied history. The only lineup change of note this time out is that Jake Dreyer has joined the band as lead guitarist, replacing 9-year veteran Troy Seele.
Fans pretty much know what to expect from a new Iced Earth album and INCORRUPTIBLE delivers it in spades. The album kicks off with a building choir vocal before ripping into a trademark aggressive Schaffer riff for “Great Heathen Army”. Block then joins the fray with powerful vocals and just owns the place, as he has done since he joined the band. Heads are banging, and all is right with the world. From there things get even better with “Black Flag”, perhaps the angriest pirate metal song that Running Wild never wrote. Again, Block’s performance is charismatic as hell, taking the mid-paced cut to a higher level.
The album predictably moves through the Iced Earth catalogue of styles with a full-on thrasher (“Seven Headed Whore”), anthems, epics, quiet moments, and all points in between. I realize that may make it sounds like more of the same, and to an extent it is, but at this point in his career, Schaffer’s is out to please a very select group: himself and his fans. INCORRUPTIBLE delivers everything an Iced Earth fan will want to hear. If I have any complaint, it’s that there are a couple of tracks that just don’t stick with me (“The Veil”, “Ghost Dance”).
I should also mention the excellent rhythm section of Luke Appleton and Brent Smedley. Smedley’s been with the band for a long time now, and both he and Appleton are rock solid. As well Dreyer, by far the youngest member of the band at age 25, proves his worth with excellent lead guitar work throughout the album.
We’re now three albums into the Stu Block era of Iced Earth, bringing some much-needed stability to the band. With continually excellent performances, Block has clearly staked his claim as the equal of Matt Barlow and if not the best, then certainly the “co-best” vocalist the band has ever had. As well, each album has been terrific, proving the band is in a renaissance period equal to their past glory days. For fans, INCORRUPTIBLE is mandatory.
1. Great Heathen Army
2. Black Flag
3. Raven Wing
4. The Veil
5. Seven Headed Whore
6. The Relic (Part 1)
7. Ghost Dance (Awaken the Ancestors)
10. Clear the Way (December 13th, 1862)
Stu Block: Vocals
Jon Schaffer: Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
Jake Dreyer: Lead Guitar
Luke Appleton: Bass
Brent Smedley: Drums