When a metal band has been around for 19 years, one has rather high expectations of what they can bring in a live show. Iron Savior is one of those bands that has been around a long time and now after 19 years, they are releasing a live album recorded at a show in their hometown of Hamburg. For those who haven’t heard of Iron Savior, you really need to change that. Imagine a driving blend of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal sound combined with the likes of the best power metal bands, great musicianship and some exceptionally strong vocals that bring to mind Dio, Gilliam, with some Bruce Dickinson. Live at the Final Frontier covers songs from across their career, with a bit of an emphasis on last year’s Rise of the Hero and serves as a great introduction to a great band.
Iron Savior has a rather storied history, being formed in 1996 in Hamburg, Germany by ex-Helloween members Pat Sielck and Kai Hansen and Thomen Stauch who was the drummer for Blind Guardian at the time. The idea was to form a power metal band that would be influenced by the New Wave of British Heavy Metal in sound and have science fiction themed lyrics. This concept then played out over seven albums and three ep’s from Iron Savior (1997) to The Landing (2011) with only Pat Sielck being the remaining founding member after 2001. Rise of the Hero in 2014 saw the band return to form and to the Top 100 charts in Germany again, a full 15 years after their last chart appearance. Rise of the Hero generated critical acclaim and also ended up on many top album lists of 2014 (mine included). Now in 2015, the band is doing a deluxe re-issue of their Megatropolis album (Megatropolis 2.0) and their first ever live CD/DVD, Live at the Final Frontier, which was recorded in their hometown of Hamburg in January of 2015.
As all live albums should, Live at the Final Frontier does transport the listener to the show. Bands like Iron Savior are known for their precision and “perfectness” of the performances and often times the live albums are significantly altered post production, but at least according to Facebook, the only changes were some wrong lyrics at one point and patching in the guitar solos, and as such, this does have that “live” feel. My one minor gripe is that the vocal seem overly loud and the great guitar riffs are a bit on the quiet side during most of the songs. The guitar solos do stand out though and deservedly so, but I just wish they were a bit more prominent in the mix for the rest of the album.
As a self-described metalhead, I am a bit embarrassed to admit that Rise of the Hero was the first I had heard of Iron Savior but it made my list of top albums for the year and hearing the older material on this live album confirms my thought that I need to add more Iron Savior to my music collection. Pummeling drums, driving riffs, clear and searing vocals, and scorching guitar solos abound in these songs that remind me of everyone from Rainbow to reunited Deep Purple to Iron Maiden, to of course Judas Priest, especially as they end the album with a cover of “Breaking the Law”. On that cover, Pat Sielck manages to inject his own vocal nuances into the song and yet still channel Rob Halford while the guitars and drums are spot on.
One of my favorite parts of the album (and the live set) would be “The Demon”, which is a slower track and may almost serve as a bit of a breather for band during the performance but Pat Sielck’s vocals take the opposite track as they alternate from clean and smooth to very much on the ragged edge. From this point on the band roars through some of the more anthemic tracks like “Fistraiser” and “Heavy Metal Never Dies” and even fits in “Atlantis Falling” from their debut album before closing with “Breaking the Law”.
As an album, Live at the Final Frontier can serve a dual purpose. For those who know Iron Savior, it provides a glimpse of what a live show would be like as many of us may not get the chance to see them and to those who have not heard of them before, the album provides a good look across their career and should serve to inspire listeners to fill in some gaps in their collections.
Written by: John Jackson
5.Revenge Of The Bride
6.Break The Curse
8.Mind Over Matter
9.Hall Of The Heroes
10.R U Ready
12.I’ve Been To Hell
13.Heavy Metal Never Dies
15.Iron Watcher (Medley)
17.Breaking The Law
Piet Sielck – Lead vocals, guitar
Joachim “Piesel” Küstner – Guitar, backing vocals
Jan-Sören Eckert – Bass, vocals
Thomas Nack – Drums and percussion
“Iron Savior” (EP) 1997
“Iron Savior” 1997
“Coming Home (Single) 1998
“Interlude” (EP) 1999
“I’ve Been to Hell” (Single) 2000
“Dark Assault ” 2001
“Condition Red” 2002
“Battering Ram” 2004
“The Landing” 2011
“Rise of the Hero” 2014 [review]
“Live at the Final Frontier” 2015
Record Label: AFM Records, May 2015
Video for’ “Condition Red’
Video for ‘Heavy Metal Never Dies’