Iced Earth is an American heavy metal band from Tampa, Florida, that combines influences from thrash metal, power metal, progressive metal, opera, speed metal and the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. Iced Earth has been known to have a volatile and often changing line-up. Founding member, songwriter, and rhythm guitarist Jon Schaffer is the only original member who has remained, handling nearly all of the songwriting and leading the band. Former vocalist Matt Barlow, and former lead guitarist Randall Shawver are the next longest-tenured members. They are the only people besides Schaffer to have spent a full decade in the band. Shawver, the first lead guitarist to record with the band, joined in 1988 and remained until 1998. Barlow joined in 1994 and remained until 2001, when he was inspired by the September 11, 2001 attacks in the U.S. to leave the band and become a law enforcement officer. However, he returned to the group in late 2007, making his live return at the 2008 Chicago Powerfest. In 1999 Jon Schaffer teamed up with Blind Guardian vocalist Hansi Kürsch to form a side project called Demons & Wizards, and have released two albums to date. In 2010 Schaffer started another side project, Sons of Liberty, which has been opening for Iced Earth on their current tour.
On March 2, 2011, vocalist Matt Barlow announced his intentions to leave the band after their 2011 European tour, citing family reasons and the band's impending tour schedule. On March 16, 2011, Stu Block, from Into Eternity, was named as Iced Earth's new singer.