Iron Savior – Rise of the Hero
Release date: March 18, 2014
In the ever-growing world of heavy metal, the German scene has been one of the utmost importance from day one. From Accept to Warlock and all of the bands in between, I would be afraid to find out where the metal scene of today would be without them. In power metal particularly, the German bands all hold a similar “European” style in their music, which may exist because the more prominent bands’ lineups all seem to intertwine somewhere down the line. This signature power metal style is rich in classically influenced speed metal guitar riffs, epic keyboards, galloping drum and bass lines, all behind high-soaring clean vocals. German power metal band Iron Savior is no exception to this highly ranked metal class, forming in 1996 and releasing eight relentless full length albums over the years. With the easily recognizable voice of Piet Sielck leading the way, their most recent release, Rise of the Hero, was the perfect answer to their previous endeavors, full of epic guitar solos and catchy lyrics of science-fiction prophecies, and revenge.
Kicking off the album is a short, seemingly cosmic-inspired instrumental, setting the pace reflected throughout the album with quickly growing guitar features. Diving in, the second track “Last Hero” begins abruptly with a very in your face palm-muted guitar riff and grows into quite a forceful heavy metal tune. In true Iron Savior style, the vocal patterns move in such a way that they’re nearly impossible not to sing along to, especially when the chorus hits with amazing, layered patterns. The bass lines and drum work drives continuously as the song pushes on, promising that this album will stand alongside others as one of their stronger releases. The infectious energy and galloping patterns don’t let up as the album moves into “Revenge of the Bride” and “From Far Beyond Time” that both feature very similar speed, song structure, and movement.
The album’s production is very clear and clean, but still very original, not overdone like a lot of bands of this genre are guilty of doing. Produced by Sielck himself, mixed, mastered, and recorded at his own studio, Powerhouse, proves he really has a great ear for raw perfection. Compared to previous releases Megatropolis and The Landing, this album not only steps up the production quality, but the general tempo and speed is pretty unforgiving all around. “Iron Warrior” and “Dragonking” are really the first songs to slow the pace into a real heavy metal groove. It’s a nice way to mix things up in the middle of the album, as especially in the chorus of “Dragonking”, the pure epic lyrics and vocal layering can really take spotlight, all before a guitar solo of intense perfection.
Iron Savior decided on a cover song, “Dance With Somebody”, from Swedish popsters Mando Diao. The track sticks out like a sore thumb in the middle of pure, heavy metal Iron Savior tunes. While the chances of me listening to this version over the original are very high, I am unsure of why this was chosen to be a part of the album, and not a bonus track or something of the like. It’s catchy and fun, but doesn’t really make sense where it is, and really breaks up the great, epic feeling the album gives to its listeners. That being said, the band decided on a re-recording of “I’ve Been to Hell” (from Dark Assault) as a bonus track, and the new version of the song is genuinely impressive. Always one of my favorite Iron Savior tunes, I was pretty excited to hear this new take on it and it sounds better than ever.
All in all, Rise of the Hero is nothing completely new or genre-defining, although it is a great release to Iron Savior‘s nearly perfect discography. Always consistent in their greatness, putting the strange cover decision aside, it is a fun and moving power metal release that fans should dive into. This is absolutely an essential album to the Iron Savior story!