As first reported by BLABBERMOUTH.NET early this morning, ICED EARTH mainman Jon Schaffer has now confirmed the addition of guitarist Ernie Carletti, (formerly of SLIKHELVETIKA) to the group's ranks. Schaffer's statement on the matter reads as follows:
"I just wanted to make a quick but significant announcement. After auditioning some very good guitar players I've made a decision. The man who will be handling the majority of the guitar solos on the next record as well as touring with us on 'The Wicked World Tour' is an awesome player named Ernie Carletti.
"As has been the case in the past we may have a few guests do a solo or two on the epic that this way comes, but the majority will be handled by Ernie. He is a world-class player and truly one of the best guitarists I've had the pleasure of meeting and hanging with. We're going to make a good team, I'm sure. We were introduced through Bernie at Bernie Rico, Jr. Guitars who is the son of the BC Rich founder/legend Bernie Rico. If you want to see some amazing top quality hand built guitars go to www.ricojrguitars.com and see what this master builder has been up to the last few years. I'll be auditioning bass players as well very soon so there will be announcements made in the not-too-distant future for that position.
"The writing is moving along well and I'll have a few details for you on the next post, but for now I've gotta run... so much to do, so little time."
According to Carletti's official bio on ErnieCarletti.com, Ernie is "a master guitarist who not only performs live, but is a renowned instructor residing in Maryland, USA and instructing in diverse performance styles including classical, rock, jazz and metal.
"Mastering his craft beyond 18 years and teaching in excess of 15, Ernie's skills are currently in demand by more than 100 students weekly in the Elkton, MD and Wilmington, DE areas. In addition to personal student sessions, Ernie offers email; video and member download instruction to students world-wide via ErnieCarletti.com.
"In 2005, Ernie struck a deal with famed guitar luthier Bernie Rico Jr. to produce and market two Carletti signature guitar models, the 'Dr. Jekyll', and the 'Mr. Hyde'. In February of 2006, Ernie was personally invited by Rico Jr. to appear as a featured artist in Rico Jr.'s booth at NAMM, the annual international music conference held in Anaheim, CA. Here Ernie had the distinct pleasure of jamming with legendary guitar God Larry Coryell — dubbed as the 'Godfather of fusion' — who has recorded more than 70 albums in 35 plus years of being a true Renaissance musician."
Schaffer is currently working on a concept album based on the "Something Wicked This Way Comes" story that first appeared on ICED EARTH's 1998 album of the same name. A 2007 release is expected.
ICED EARTH's last release was the "Gettysburg (1863)" DVD, which came out in June 2005. The main program, a CGI-rendered video presentation of the epic "Gettysburg" trilogy from 2004's acclaimed album "The Glorious Burden", drew praise from fans and media alike. The DVD was also reportedly being used as a teaching tool in several high schools across the country.