By now, Iron Savior likely needs little introduction. Formed in 1996 in Germany by ex-Helloween members Pat Sielck and Kai Hansen and the drummer for Blind Guardian at the time, Thomen Stauch, Iron Savior has over the years released album after album of great power metal blending sounds from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal with sci-fi themed lyrics. Now with Titancraft, Pat Sielck is the only remaining original member and the band is on its ninth album, the studio release following their critically acclaimed Rise of the Hero (2014).
My first exposure to Iron Savior was Rise of the Hero and that is such a fantastic album, anything the band produces after that will be judged in light of that release, which really isn’t fair to any band, especially because that album is so good. Ok, enough of the past, on the whole, Titancraft showcases a band with talent to burn. Pat Sielck’s vocals are crisp, clear and strong as perfect for power metal as one would want, group choruses are epic, guitar solos are great and the rhythm section is as strong as ever, delivering a great groove to the songs. My one grip with the album is that the production while needing to be clean for the genre, seems almost too clean and to me at least, lacks some of the grit and drive found on Rise of the Hero.
One of the biggest surprises for me was the song “Gunsmoke”, which starts out with some horses galloping and a gunshot that leads right into a riff that sounds a bit like something maybe from late 80’s Ratt. The song itself does have a bit of that late 80’s metal feel to it and the lyrics immediately bring to mind possibilities for an epic Western-themed video. All this being said, there is a bit of formula at play in the songs, but by now it should be expected from Iron Savior and if anyone could get away with it, this is that band.
One of my favorite tracks has to be “The Sun Won’t Rise in Hell” as it has that great head-banging riff and drive throughout most of the song, combined with lyrics a bit reminiscent of Iron Maiden from Number of the Beast and the epic chorus line, “The sun will never rise on you again because the sun won’t rise in hell”. I can completely see this in a live setting with the entire crowd singing along. Everything Iron Savior does has that larger-than-life feel to it, on the scale of arena metal bands from days long ago when people enjoyed the music instead of trying to film it all on their phones.
The one song on the album that just doesn’t seem to fit is the power ballad “I Surrender”. There’s nothing terribly wrong with the song, but it does seem to take a bit of the energy out of the album which up until that point tears along at a fast clip. “Rebellious” picks up the pace and drive of the songs before “I Surrender” and is a good closer to the album. The great, galloping riff that opens up the song will please headbangers of all generations as it’s both familiar and still so good. Again, there is a feel of the late 80’s, early 90’s metal bands throughout the song, but as in other cases, this is more along the lines of a homage and not nostalgia. Throw in some great guitar work and great gang vocals and this song ends the album on a very strong note.
Basically, Iron Savior have done it again and delivered another great power metal album filled great songs. From my standpoint, the album isn’t quite up to the same level as Rise of the Hero, which made my top 10 list of 2014, but that being said, I will be surprised if this album doesn’t make the top 10 list for this year.
Written by John Jackson
01. Under Siege
03. Way of the Blade
04. Seize the Day
06. Beyond the Horizon
07. The Sun Won’t Rise in Hell
08. Strike Down the Tyranny
09. Brother in Arms
10. I Surrender
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 [review]
Record Label: AFM Records, May 2016
Video for ‘Way of the Blade’