Iced Earth drummer, Brent Smedley, has issued an update:
"As most of you are aware, some big changes have been made since the last report in 2007. We have welcomed back singer Matt Barlow into the band. It's great having Matt back and hearing his voice again. We have also added Freddie Vidales on bass guitar. He is an incredible bass player and a great guy. I think he will fit into the band splendidly.
"The new single is due for release starting June 13. It consists of a new song 'I Walk Alone', a crushing heavy grooving jam as well as re-done versions of 'A Charge To Keep', 'The Clouding', and 'Setian Massacre' — all with Matt on vocals.
"The rehearsals for the upcoming festivals have gone well and we are all very excited to be playing for the fans once again. (Note: The single can be pre-ordered at Amazon.com).
"The first gig of the 2008 season was just outside of Chicago at a place called The Pearl Room. The promoters here were very helpful and considerate. The dressing room furnishings were like something out of an 'Austin Powers' movie, complete with pink chairs and pink and purple ruffled curtains adorning the walls.
"After soundcheck, there was a meet-and-greet session with a group of fans and sponsors. Some fans traveled from as far as Seattle, New York, Michigan, and other distant places.
"There is a great deal of excitement and anticipation for the 2008 tour. This is the first time ICED EARTH has played in the U.S. in over three years.
"Many fans were grateful for the chance to meet the band, have their CDs signed, and have photos taken with us. One fan in particular (Rafael) brought us all gifts. Rafael is a member of the U.S. Coast Guard. He gave Jon a certified USCG watch, Matt a replica of a Coast Guard cutter, a shirt and cap set as well as a bottle of vodka for me, Troy a bottle of vodka and a mug, and a coffee mug for Freddie. It was a very nice gesture and greatly appreciated.
"So, onto the show! The crowd was absolutely amazing! We were told it was the biggest attendance ever for a concert here. The band played extremely well and the audience seemed to eat up every note. It was a great return gig for Matt and an awesome first gig for Freddie. Several times the crowd broke into chants of 'Welcome Matt.' Everyone seems to be very pleased with the return of Matt on vocals.
"After the initial set, we returned to the stage for an encore and ended the show with our trademark closer, the song 'Iced Earth'. When the show was over we hung out in the club until closing time, seeing many old friends. One in particular we were all happy to see was Scott Davidson, the owner of Rebel Radio, a good friend who has helped us out very much in the past. I was also pleased to meet a representative for Trick Percussion who showed me their amazing bass drum pedals.
"After the club shut down, a couple of us attended a huge after-party thrown in a nearby hotel in our honor.
"It is great to be playing back in the states and Chicago was an excellent choice for our return!
"So stay tuned for more updates as we check in with you from Canada and Germany next weekend.