As random and kind of funny as it is to think of, the entire world of heavy metal would be very different if it weren't for Tampa. For whatever reason -- a confluence of bored, like-minded skater-dude musicians, sun-fried brains, something in the water -- the Sunshine State city churned out a number of heavy bands in the '80s and '90s. But while the city is largely known for its death metal acts, in particular, that wasn't the only subgenre represented. See, of instance, titans Iced Earth, who first appeared in the mid-'80s, but were more of a thrash or power act.
While contemporaries like Obituary and Deicide were helping form the quintessential death-metal sound -- lightning-fast rhythms, usually unintelligible growled vocals -- Iced Earth often took a different tack. Those bands all shared a certain aggression, but Iced Earth favored slightly meatier, melodic riffs and a vocal style that included a heavy dose of wailing mixed with the occasional growl.
With the band now going continuously since about 1984, it's unsurprising that the band's number of former members is nearly five times as long as the list of current ones (five). At this point, the only remaining totally original member is rhythm guitarist and backing vocalist Jon Schaffer, who formed the band and has remained its backbone. Drummer Brent Smedley has played with the group on and off since the mid-'90s, while the rest of the current lineup dates from the past five years.
Still, not a lot else about Iced Earth has changed, much to fans' benefit. The group's latest album, Dystopia, was released this past October and features 10 more tracks of meaty metal full of vocal and guitar acrobatics. If you're so inclined, you can stream some of its best songs, including the title track, plus a number of other Iced Earth fan favorites via Soundcloud in advance of the band's headlining show at Revolution on Friday, March 2 with New Jersey prog-metal legends Symphony X.
Iced Earth, with Symphony X. 7 p.m. Friday, March 2 at Revolution, 100
SW 3rd Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $33.25 with fees. Click here.
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