Just Push Play

Can you be too into music? Music’s always been an extremely important thing to me, but I’ve been pondering that question quite a bit today. The reason? I’ve been sitting here all day stupidly staring at the new single from Iced Earth with anticipation and a very real sense of dread, unwilling to push play. I’ve been […]

by Fred Phillips

Can you be too into music?

Music’s always been an extremely important thing to me, but I’ve been pondering that question quite a bit today. The reason? I’ve been sitting here all day stupidly staring at the new single from Iced Earth with anticipation and a very real sense of dread, unwilling to push play.

I’ve been a fan of the band for a lot of years, and I love every incarnation. This is the first time that I’ve ever had mixed feelings about an Iced Earth release. I’m usually combing the web, checking the site regularly, trying to get any taste I can of the new music. Two recent events have soured my feelings on the band a little, though. First was the promo fiasco that I’ve talked about ad nauseum on another thread  and won’t rehash here. Second, and most important, was the departure of Tim Owens. I really loved Iced Earth with Owens. His vocals were far more aggressive, and I thought they brought an edge to the band’s sound that it really needed. I’m still bummed out by the split five months later. Sad, but true.

It’s pretty silly, I know. After all, I loved Iced Earth with Matt Barlow. They became one of my favorite bands with Barlow on the mic. It’s not like there’s a singer coming in that I’ve never heard and I’m not sure what the band’s going to sound like. I’ve heard this band before. I liked this band before. Yet, there it sits on the band’s MySpace page, and for some reason I don’t want to listen to it.

I understand that I’m in the minority here. I know things, even good things, don’t always work out. I know there are a lot of fans who prefer Barlow. I know that the majority of European fans – Europe being where Jon Schaffer makes most of his money – prefer Barlow. I understand that music is a business, and I understand that the return of Matt Barlow is the right thing for Schaffer’s bank account, and perhaps the right thing to keep Iced Earth going. But I wonder if it’s the right thing for the music. It’s been stated that Barlow will continue his law enforcement career and Iced Earth’s live performances will be limited. So we’re looking at basically a studio band that does a few festival performances from the sound of things. Is that the right thing for fans? I don’t know. I’m hopeful, but at the same time I also have a lot of misgivings.

Don’t get me wrong, I want to like it. A good Iced Earth record is better than a bad Iced Earth record no matter who’s voice is on it. Then again, there’s this petty little part of me that wants to be able to say “I told you so.”

So how much does it matter, in real life, who the singer of Iced Earth is? Does it have any real impact on my personal life? Will my life change if I don’t like the new record? No. I hear records I don’t like every day, many from bands that I do like. Still, I’ve wasted a ridiculous amount of time thinking about this. That’s what’s so stupid. When I’m paying $3.50-plus a gallon for gas and the family grocery bill is skyrocketing, why am I worried about who’s singing for some rock band?

Who knows? Maybe it’s my way of trying to shift my admittedly obsessive-compulsive brain away from the stress of issues that are causing real problems in my life and those of the people around me. Or maybe I should just go pop a Xanax and push play.



  1. Commented by: Chris Dick

    You didn’t just reference Aerosmith did you? Get a grip, sir. :)

  2. Commented by: Morb

    You’re not crazy. Music is one of the only things worth caring about.

    You’re a little off for being obsessed with Iced Earth, but…whatever. ;)

  3. Commented by: Fred Phillips

    ‘kin A. Aerosmith rocks. You can talk about a lot of the things I listen to, but I draw the line at insults of Aerosmith. I’ve been crazy about them since I was a kid. Their 70s stuff is right up there with Sabbath’s first six records as far as my all-time favorites. Of course after the 70s, it’s pretty much the same old song and dance, not nearly as much sweet emotion, but maybe I’m just a little jaded. OK, before you guys send me on permanent vacation, I promise, no more, no more.

  4. Commented by: Dan

    Yo Fred,
    I hit play. No great shakes.

  5. Commented by: Fred Phillips

    I eventually listened to them last night. The new single didn’t impress me, but neither did it disappoint. It was pretty run of the mill Iced Earth, I thought. I absolutely hated the re-recordings with Barlow, particularly “The Clouding,” but that’s to be expected, I guess. Hopefully I’ll get a promo soon, and I can spend some time with it and see if it grows on me.

  6. Commented by: Chris Ayers

    Maybe the new Iced Earth will grow on you, Fred. I’ve slapped into my player countless of my fave bands’ new material, VERY rarely to be blown away at first spin. You’ll come around, man, and if you don’t — well, that’s part of being a critic.

  7. Commented by: Chris Dick

    Iced Earth is less than or equal to KISS. Well, Matt Stanley just drives me nuts. Ripper will be missed.

  8. Commented by: Fred Phillips

    You just nailed what I don’t miss about Barlow, the whole Paul Stanley wannabe voice. There was just more aggression in Ripper’s vocals, and I thought they were a better fit.

    I wouldn’t go as far as saying Iced Earth is less than or equal to Kiss, because I don’t think there’s a more shallow band on the face of the earth than Kiss (and I say that as someone who likes Kiss.)

    Oddly, I’m listening to the new Pyramaze, which also has Barlow on vocals, and I’m liking it a lot better than the new IE. He’s got a little growl in a few of the songs that I’ve never heard before. Hopefully he’ll bring a little of that back to Iced Earth.

  9. Commented by: Chris Dick

    How is the Pyramaze?

  10. Commented by: Fred Phillips

    I’ve only listened to it once, but it left a pretty good impression. Musically, I liked it. A lot of it had a “Something Wicked” IE flavor, in large part because of Barlow’s vocals. He shows a little more range than I’m used to from him, but there are still a lot of Paul Stanley-isms. I liked it on first listen, but I’ll see how it holds up.

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