Iron Savior “Rise Of The Hero” Review
A few weeks ago, it came to my attention that Iron Savior had released a new album. This was pretty big news for me, considering that I had gone through a “power metal epic space opera” phase a few years back. This led me to relive the glory days by listening to the entire Iron Savior discography. AGAIN.
When I thought about it, I realized that it might not have been the best news I could have hoped for. Somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I doubted myself a little. “Hey,” a little piece of me whispered. “It’s been three years since they’ve released anything. They could have really spiraled downward recently.”
Thankfully, I was wrong.
For those who don’t really know much about Iron Savior, they’re a power metal band with a running science-fiction storyline. The storyline is based around the concept of Atlantis as a pre-human civilization, more advanced than Earth could imagine. A conflict between Atlantis, a moral and just nation, and the rest of the Earth which is controlled by the Alliance, ruled by the Dragohl, forces the Atlanteans into developing a massive spaceship called the Iron Savior. Of course, a betrayal occurs and thermonuclear war breaks out, sending the Iron Savior into the deepest reaches of space for 350 thousand years. The war eliminates almost all life on Earth, and a precious few Atlanteans escape into space. The remaining life devolves into the predecessors of humanity.
Fast forward 350 thousand years, and humans are hanging out on Earth when boom, the 18-mile-long spaceship re-enters orbit, thinks that Atlantis has been destroyed (correct) and the Alliance rules Earth (incorrect), and attempts to obliterate all life on Earth. What fun! The story doesn’t end there, and goes on for seven albums, two EPs, and two singles.
The current lineup consists of former Helloween member Piet Sielck, guitarist Joachim “Piesel” Küstrer, bassist Jan-Sören Eckert, and drummer Thomas Nack.
The new album, oddly enough, does not really fit into the story. Having been three years since their previous album, the only original member of the band was Piet. The new album does, however, fit right in with the style and science fiction theme.
In terms of sound quality, the sound is consistently great, as most of their albums were recorded at lead singer and guitarist Piet Sielck’s Powerhouse studio. As Sielck’s expertise in recording and producing suggests, “What can be expected? A full dose of first-class heavy music, power metal to the max!”
The album begins with Ascendance, which is a 1:30 instrumental intro track. With its thick synth pads and smooth sound, I feel like this really sets the mood for the rest of the album. Four stars.
And then there’s the titular Rise Of The Hero. Listening to the album in order, Ascendance couldn’t be a better intro for this song. Now this is the classic Iron Savior that I remember. It feels like I just traveled back five years and listened to Iron Savior for the first time again. Five stars.
Revenge of the Bride is obviously inspired by Kill Bill, but that does not detract from the quality of the track at all. A lot of the first part of the song is kind of mediocre (the lyrics are kinda… euh), but WHOA. It quickly rekindles expectations right before the solo, then blows every one of your expectations out of the water with that solo. Nice. Three point five stars.
From Far Beyond Time‘s intro is straight up ballin’. The track itself features a progression that switches keys really nicely, as well as doing a really bang-up job with the backup singers. About the halfway mark, the guitar’s strumming changes before rocketing into yet another spectacular solo. Good job, Piet and Piesel. Five stars.
Burning Heart doesn’t pull any punches. It’s a reminder that Iron Savior hasn’t really changed all that much while still hitting hard with its characteristic sound. There’s not too much to say about this song, other that the drums are spot on in this track though. The solo is pretty good (By Iron Savior terms. Nothing less than top notch by any other standard.) Four stars.
Iron Savior in the studio recording Burning Heart
Thunder From The Mountain reminds you of the fact that power metal is still metal. The riffs are almost ridiculously fast, and the drums keep up easily (Nack, you are a gift to metal). The lyrics are quality and the solo is spot on. How does he do it every time? Five stars.
Iron Warrior is a slightly slower song. Not much to say about this song. Four stars.
Dragon King starts off unconventionally, with a much larger focus on the drums. This song differs from many of the songs on the album, as its content is more about fantasy than sci-fi. As a song itself, it keeps a good progression, but is a bit of a snore. Three stars.
Dance With Somebody is a Mando Diao cover. If this song were a single, I’d be more than happy with this track. Piet’s vocal talent really suits the lyrics and rhythmic style of the original. However, I have beef with the placement of the song itself. It just kinda sticks out in the middle of the album like a boob in the middle of an assortment of big manly pecs. That doesn’t mean its a bad song by any means, it just doesn’t feel right placed there. Three stars.
Firestorm gives off a Dragonforce feel to it, which is kinda mediocre. Even Piet’s solo kinda feels like he’s just playing lots of notes for the sake of playing lots of notes. I’m a big fan of the drum solo before the guitar solo though. Two stars.
The Demon is much slower than the rest of the tracks on the album. This track would be a lot better if the lyrics were, you know, better. The solo is downright pathetic, although it fits the song’s tone. It’s alright. Two stars.
On to Fistraiser. At this point I was kinda thinking “Ugh, they’ve just started writing songs so they wouldn’t have to make another EP, boring boring boring.” This track actually redeems the rest of the album by a long shot. The lyrics are good, unlike the last couple of songs. The chord progressions leave something to be desired. Piet and Piesel trade off solo and backing guitar during the solo, which is quite refreshing. Near the end of the song, Piet lays off the guitar a little bit for a nice chanting effect. This would have been much needed in The Demon, but it was nicely executed here. Five stars.
I was pleasantly surprised to see I’ve Been To Hell from Iron Savior’s earlier album Dark Assault remade. I figured that Piet probably wanted to go ahead and remake them with the new band, and I can’t say I’m disappointed. I’ve Been To Hell sounds a lot better with the new sound (and the new quality, Dark Assault was released in 2001). It’s a bit slower than the original, but it really feels a lot nicer. Four stars.
Mind Over Matter (2014), another remake, is almost infinitely better than the original in Unification. The weird and horrifying flange effect in the original is gone from this version, and everything sounds way better. The musical nuances! The new chords! The better drums! Piesel in general! Five stars.
After three years of not thinking about Iron Savior, I was pleasantly surprised by their new album. Although it doesn’t contribute to their running story in any meaningful way, it’s good music. Iron Savior occupies a really nice space in the power metal genre and, despite numerous member changes, hasn’t really changed their distinctive sound. Piet’s vocals might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but they do have their appeal. Especially now that they got rid of the awful flange effect. Ugh.
All in all, I recommend this album at four stars out of five. I’m happy Iron Savior is back, and I do hope that they gain at least a bit more popularity.