Epic power metal in all its glory is mostly lacking these days or at least arguably does not have the same following as it did in the 80’s and 90’s. Iron Savior is keeping the genre alive complete with fantasy/sci-fi themed lyrics, blazing guitar solos, fist-raising anthems, and soaring vocals.
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 involve a science fiction story that would play out over multiple albums. Pretty crazy concept that spawned seven albums and three eps between 1997 and 2011. As it turns out, for their eighth album Rise of the Hero, Piet Sielck is the only remaining original member in the band
Continuing the current theme in it seems every album I listen to lately, Rise of the Hero starts off with an instrumental intro track “Ascendence” complete with keyboards that do at least present what could be a space or scifi theme. In all honesty, I wish intro tracks would become less popular but I digress. Not being familiar with Iron Savior, I had no idea what to expect in terms of sound and for bands I do not know, I try to not look up their information before listening so as not to bias myself. “Last Hero” is the first real song on the album and goes straight for the throat with a fast guitar riff and then the unmistakably epic power metal vocals. Think Dio combined with a bit of Halford and any other cool power metal vocalist you can think of and you get the idea. Literally, the perfect vocals for this style of metal. The kind of voice that makes perfect sense singing lines like “tears of the gods will be falling from the skies” and “listen to the story of the dragon and the knight”. That’s not an easy task, but Piet Sielck pulls it off with a certain sense of majesty.
Power metal has certain sound requirements as well and all of those required elements are well represented on Rise of the Hero. Songs need to be primarily focused on guitars and vocals and everything needs to be very clean sounding. In addition to the vocals and guitar, Piet Sielck recorded the album at his Powerhouse studio and has done an excellent job capturing the vocals, guitar solos, and keeping the rhythm section from fading into the background. Despite the general very clean production, there is still a bit of crunch and bite to the guitars and overall sound, which is not a simple task. Songs like “Revenge of the Bride” showcase some of what I enjoy with this mix. The verse sections through much of the song are just vocals over galloping bass and drums with some guitar chords ringing out in timed intervals and all instruments come through clearly. One slight aspect I wasn’t as fond of was the backing vocals being as loud as they are on the album, but that is a minor quibble in the big picture. I really appreciate the guitar solos on the album, of which there are plenty, as they fit within their respective songs. In some cases, within this genre it seems as if the songs are just filler and the guitar solos are really what the album is about and that is not the case here.
Songs tend to range from mid-tempo to fast like in “Thunder from the Mountain”, which keeps the listener interested. Through it all the rhythm section holds everything together very well. There are even some stadium-like anthem songs like “Iron Warrior” where one can picture a sea of fists raised and pumping in unison.
The one song that just didn’t seem to work was the cover tune “Dance with Somebody”. I read that originally it was going to be a bonus track on special editions and I would have been happy with it ending up with that fate. Now maybe if I knew the original, performed by Mando Diao, I would feel differently. I did actually look up the YouTube clip of the original song and its over 5 million views and see that the cover version does stay somewhat close to the original but I still don’t like it. All in all though, that’s a minor misstep.
The album finishes strong with “Firestorm”, “The Demon”, and “Fistraiser”. “Firestorm” lives up to its name with some rather incendiary guitar work and machine gun tempo while “The Demon” provides a bit of a chance to catch one’s breath starting out slow and building to a more emotional peak before again slowing and building all over again. “Fistraiser” seems like the logical choice to close out this metal album simply by title alone. An awesome guitar riff opens things up and leads into a fast chugging verse section that eventually leads into the anthemic chorus section, eventually closing out the album with “keep that fire burning…raise your fist and set your spirit free, heavy metal is our chosen way to be”. Why yes it is. If power metal along the likes of ReinXeed, Obsession, Death Dealer, with a bit of Judas Priest and Rainbow thrown in is something that sounds interesting, you’ll want to pick this up.
01. Ascendence [Intro]
02. Last Hero
03. Revenge Of The Bride
04. From Far Beyond Time
05. Burning Heart
06. Thunder From The Mountains
07. Iron Warrior
08. Dragon King
10. The Demon
12. Dance With Somebody [Mando Diao cover]
13. I’ve Been To Hell 2014 [limited-edition bonus track]
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
Record Label: AFM Records, Feb. 2014
22. February 2014, Kubana Live Club, Siegburg, Germany
26. February 2014, Rock Café “St. Pauli”, Hamburg, Germany (Special Release Show)
Video below “Rise Of The Hero” Album Trailer
Video below ‘Burning Heart’