ICED EARTH mainman/guitarist Jon Schaffer (pictured below) has issued the following update: "There's a lot happening in ICED EARTH world at the moment. We are just a few short weeks away from getting together in Germany to rehearse the new songs for the upcoming album, 'Plagues Of Babylon'. We have a few weeks of rehearsal, then we start tracking the new album in between a string of festivals in Europe, and one in India, which we are all excited about, since it'll be our first time there. "Tracking will be done at a studio in Germany to try to keep the jetlag at a minimum. The numerous trips across the Atlantic during the 'Dystopia'recording were a bit brutal, so we are doing it smarter this time. If we stay on target, you will have the new album in October! It's a tight schedule, but we are intent on making it happen. I am very happy with the work so far, and it's only going to get better when we are all together cranking it out." ICED EARTH recently parted ways with drummer Brent Smedley for "personal family reasons." His replacement, Raphael Saini(CHAOSWAVE), will join the group on the road starting this summer. "I have family members that are elderly and frail and need my help here in Jacksonville," Smedley said in a statement. "It's been one of the hardest decisions of my life but I simply cannot commit to the kind of schedule the band deserves and requires so I decided to ask permission to step down from my post."