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Iced Earth: Metal From the Right Side

icedearth.jpgIced Earth is a metal/progressive/power rock/label of your choosing band. They've been around since 1991 and recently put out a new album, Glorious Burden. Burden has been described as a political album but, as songwriter John Schaffer says in the interview transcribed below, it is more of an historical album. Schaffer is a rarity in the rock music business - he is unabashedly pro-America. He is also a history buff and that is evident on Burden, an album that, Schaffer says, was inspired in part by 9/11, but is about more than that: There's a lot of writing on this album of history that goes back to Attila The Hun against the Roman Empire all the way to Afghanistan and 9/11. It's not a political album." Schaffer was interviewed by Brave Words and Bloody Knuckles, an online metal magazine. The interviewer was somewhat antagonstic towards Schaffer, but he stood his ground and gets my vote for Hero of the Day.
What follows here is excerpts from the interview, which you can read in its entirety here. Apparently there was some controversy about the original interview, which was edited when printed the first time - and editing job that put a bit of a spin on the interview. The Weekly Standard also had something to say about Schaffer. Before I post the excerpts, I have to ask this question: Why is it so controversial to have a metal band write songs about war and for a metal musician to be so proudly pro-America, when there doesn't seem to be any controversy at all when hundreds of other bands are writing and producing anti-America crap every day? Oh, it should be noted that the interviewer is Canadian. ------ BW&BK: "This next question is controversial so I'm letting you know before we proceed. Some political analysts have articulated the view that what happened on September 11 was justified due to America's presence in the Middle East, specifically Saudi Arabia. Some political analysts view it as retaliation for what the US has done in the Middle East in the past. As a Canadian, I'm interested in hearing what you have to say about this view that's been put forth by analysts." JS: "No, it wasn't justified. Not at all. And anybody who says so needs to have their fuckin' head examined." BW&BK: "Do you think 9/11 will be viewed as the first event in the US empire's decline and fall?" JS: "No. This is not an empire, first of all. If the United States was an empire, your country would be our 51st state." ------- bq. JS: If you understood how many people in our country and how many young kids have no fuckin' clue about history and why they have the things they have, it's frustrating to me as someone who has studied this stuff and cares deeply about it. It's kind of a big deal. I don't think anybody has all the answers for all the world's problems. But I believe if you look at the tax burden the American people have for helping so many people around the world, constantly. It's huge. People can't deny that, but it's easy to forget when people want to turn their backs on us." ------------- BW&BK: "So you don't see the Bush regime as being cultural imperialists? You don't see them as trying to force the American way of life on to a nation that maybe doesn't want it?" JS: "No. If you think that's true, then why are 70 or 80 percent of the people are thrilled to have us there. Have you not seen that? And it's not a regime, by the way. You keep up that kind of language I'm going to end the interview right now." BW&BK: "Ok. I understand." JS: "I'm serious." BW&BK: "I'm sorry. It's just my Canadian bias I guess." JS: "Yeah, it is your Canadian bias. I'm sure it is." ----------- BW&BK: "Well, sometimes Americans believe they're very free, when they're sometimes not. There are a lot of authors, especially a guy like Noam Chomsky, who believes a lot of consent in the US is manufactured by politicians and corporations --" JS: "Talk about one of the fuckin' ultra leftist spin doctors of the world, Noam Chomsky. You buy into that crap?" BW&BK: "Well, I read a lot of his stuff." JS: "But do you believe it all?" BW&BK: "I have a degree in political science, so I believe some of it." JS: "Hmm. Yeah. Well. And how old are you?" BW&BK: "I'm 22." JS: "22 years old? That's a lot of wisdom there! Come on, man. You know where I live? In the real world. When I was 16 years old I was living in abandoned houses and making my way into a career. Building things up from nothing without any kind of... well... socialist system to help me. ---------- bq. I think we have become a nation of spoiled-rotten fuckin' brats, and that worries me for the future. There's nothing worse than being an ignorant kid that is spoiled and has no concept of what's going on around the world. Let alone not even knowing what has gone on in their own world to make them who they are. If you don't know the sacrifices and suffering that went into the founding of this country, then how can you possibly appreciate what it is you have?" -------- bq. But the whole idea of this country is not to have a government tit. We don't stand for that. There are people who would probably like that, and they should probably move to Canada. ----------- JS: But the way you asked your questions, you were asking biased questions. Calling our president the Bush regime? That's a tainted thing, dude. That's not like saying, 'How do you feel about President Bush?' Saying 'Bush Regime' is a bullshit way of saying it. That's spin, alright? ---- Read the whole thing, then go to Amazon and listen to some clips from Glorious Burden. It opens with a blazing rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. I've been a casual fan of Iced Earth for a while, but haven't bought anything they put out since Dark Saga. I'm pretty sure I'll be purchasing Glorious Burden, as it sounds like a great history lesson wrapped in some pretty powerful music. Out of the ashes came a tempted vengeance, but we are focused, we seek redemption we are free, we'll stay free All they've done, is make us stronger The sleeping giant, is asleep no longer If need be, we'll die free Yea, a little cheesy, but taken as a whole, the lyrics are good reading. [BW&BK link via my boss] Also posted at blogcritics


Best. Interview. Ever.

Classic. I especially like the bit about Noam Chomsky and taking his head off about the biased questions. "So you don't think the u.s. is culturally imperialistic." Ha!

My favorite line in the whole thing is: "It's a tainted thing, dude." God, I just LOVE that.

My Fantasy:Iced Earth on one side,Nugent on the other,Rall in the middle having his head explode form VRWC sonic overload.

they sound pretty good too!

I reviewed it on Blogcritics back in January....


the patriotism and the cheese-factor of the lyrics take some away from it, but it's still VERY, VERY good... go buy it!

oh, and Schaeffer is very, very Mustaine-like in his dealings with "his" band....

I'm with red.

"It's a tainted thing, dude"
best. line. ever.

I bought the album after that interview. It's damn good--especially the one-CD song, "Gettysburg"

I highly recommend it.

For my money, this is one of the 100 Most Metal Moments.

mbruce-my fantasy too.

The interviewer's comments are hysterical. "I've got a degree in politicial science, so I believe some of it."

No, that's not why you believe some of it. It's why you think we should listen to your warmed over crappola.

JS: "Talk about one of the fuckin' ultra leftist spin doctors of the world, Noam Chomsky. You buy into that crap?"

BW&BK: "Well, I read a lot of his stuff."

JS: "But do you believe it all?"

BW&BK: "I have a degree in political science, so I believe some of it."

JS: "Hmm. Yeah. Well. And how old are you?"

BW&BK: "I'm 22."

What an Ass. I will have a Political Science degree by December, and believe me, getting the degree and buying into Chomsky's idiotic rants do not go hand-in-hand.

The comment regarding Canada being the 51st state if the US were imperialistic was precious.

It's extremely unlikely that I would like this band's music, but it is a very good interview. It's a good interview because Schaffer isn't spouting any sort of diatribe of his own - he's merely pointing out the utter ridiculousness of much of the dogma that the interviewer and others unquestioningly assume to be fact.

I liked this particularly:

And it's not a regime, by the way. You keep up that kind of language I'm going to end the interview right now.

Very rumsfeld-like, not letting them slip that little slant in there.

The comment about Canada being the 51st state is part of the problem Canada has with us. It's true, and it scares them, but it also confuses them, as in: What, we're not GOOD ENOUGH to be a state?

I think it's the first time I bought a CD based on an interview. Buy I did and am enjoying it very much.

As a long time Iced Earth fan, I believe their early releases are superior to the Glorious Burden which is nonetheless, a sold IE album.

***You have to check out Burnt Offerings and Night of the Stormrider.***

Alberta will be the 51st state within 20 years.

My son is in the music biz (Relapse Records) and gave me a 4 song demo cd, which I have yet to have the opportunity to listen to.

He said he saw them once and the guitarist came out and played the Star Spangled Banner.

Very nice.

N. O'Brain
Imperial Minister for Useless Information

I also thought the bit about "the only land we've asked for his for our fallen" was a nice touch.

Michele, you've made a sale. These guys should be giving you major props.

PS: did anyone here see the Playboy review of Metallica's Black Album when it came out? No crap, the reviewer trashed THE WHOLE THING based on the song, "Don't Tread On Me", and he did so specifically because it was patriotic. Kinda says all you need to know, not so?

I LOVE that interview.

Iced is like Maiden, only not English. Good stuff. I assembled quite a greatest hits iPod playlist out of the 15-20-ish albums they've made.

Bush Regime. Bush Regime. Bush Regime.
Why not let the UN in to investigate the election results. theres some USA history for you!
I trust all of you are serving in the military as it is voluntary.

I reviewed the album as well before its release. The introduction of Owens to the band has helped them create their best album yet. Iced Earth have gone from an Iron Maiden tribute band (with not as good a singer) and evolved into a rather good power metal band.

I highly recomend this album to metal fans. It is one of the best releases in recent memory.

BTW I would also like to point out that I write reviews for BW&BK :D

I got the biggest kick out of the interview and loved the part about Canada. But the best line of all about Canada was Angie Shultz's comment here:

If the United States was an empire, your country would be our 51st state. What bullshit. If the US were an empire, Canada would be a subject province, its people enslaved to pump out the oil and cut down the trees and dredge up the fish and serve lattes in Vancouver. And oil, timber, fish and lattes would all be damned hard to come by in Canada, and flow like water here. MUAHAHAHAHAHA!"

BTW, I happen to detest heavy metal but I bought the album just to support the band. Turns out I still don't like metal, but some of the intros were beautiful and haunting. Also, the liner notes on Gettysburg, written by Schaffer, are outstanding - the guy really knows his history.

I trust all of you are serving in the military as it is voluntary.

I trust that you know what "voluntary" means.