Released By: AFM Records
Release Date: March 18, 2014
Genre: Power Metal
Piet Sielck – Vocals, Guitars
Joachim Küstner – Guitars
Jan-Sören Eckert – Bass
Thomas Nack – Drums
2. Last Hero
3. Revenge Of The Bride
4. From Far Beyond Time
5. Burning Heart
6. Thunder From The Mountains
7. Iron Warrior
8. Dragon King
9. Dance With Somebody (Mando Diao cover)
11. The Demon
13. I’ve Been To Hell (bonus track)
Iron Savior is one of the most consistent bands around, both in terms of quality and style. While they never seem to reach the heights of other leading German power metal acts Helloween and Gamma Ray, they also seem to avoid some of the low points of either band, so instead they always release solid, entertaining metal albums that fall just short of true greatness. While I’m still fairly new to the band, I’ve heard other fans say the same thing about them, so it’s no surprise that their eighth full length album Rise Of The Hero is once again a solid album that shows occasional signs of being a masterpiece, but doesn’t quite reach that level by the end.
Longtime fans will once again find no surprises here, as singer, guitarist and band leader Piet Sielck is one of those guys who knows exactly what he wants to do, and he does it each and every time without fail. Which is to say, this is classic sounding German power metal with a mix of speed, melodies, crushing riffs, and powerful vocals. As always, the album has a very classic feel to it the whole through, and the riffs are as traditional and as pure metal sounding as possible. Perhaps the only experiment is with a badly failed cover song attempt, but I’ll get to that in a bit.
Compared to Helloween and Gamma Ray, Iron Savior’s music seems to be a bit heavier and more raw, though there’s certainly some great melodies to be found, especially on the first half of the album. I personally find their speedier songs awesome and their slower songs a bit boring, and that’s once again the case on this album, though I’m sure longtime fans will be satisfied with everything here. One reason why their heavier songs work so well is because Piet Sielck has such a powerful and distinct voice, that really shines through on the more intense and energetic songs. When they either slow down or try and add in softer sections, like on “The Demon”, Piet still sounds good but he’s clearly at his best when he gets to sing at full power. This is especially true because he sings with so much passion and fire, that the heavier songs simply allow that to come out more naturally.
The first half of Rise Of The Hero contains some of the best songs I’ve heard from Iron Savior. Everything sounds amazing, from the blazing speed and epic melodies of “From Far Beyond Time” and “Thunder From The Mountains” to the pure fun and raw intensity of the Kill Bill inspired track “Revenge Of The Bridge”, and of course the sarcastic and hard hitting heavy metal track “Burning Heart”, which also has a hilarious music video. The opening track “Last Hero” gets the album off to a strong start, and even the slow moving “Iron Warrior” is a lot of fun. In fact, by that point on my first listen I was thinking this could be the first time an entire Iron Savior album would blow me away, but unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be.
After the stunning first half, things quickly take a turn for the worse with the dull, plodding and frankly boring “Dragon King”, which more than overstays its welcome. Sadly, that isn’t the worst track, as my previous comment about a failed cover would suggest. Yes indeed, they decided to do a cover of Mando Diao’s hit song “Dance With Somebody”, and while power metal covers of pop songs can work, this one simply doesn’t fit the band’s style at all, and Piet sounds especially bad, as his voice is simply not suited to this song in any way. Also disappointing is the semi ballad “The Demon”, which fails to pick up any momentum as it goes along. Judging only the main album tracks, the only highlights of the second half are the speedier tracks “Firestorm” and “Fistraiser”, and while the latter has a very fun and catchy chorus, even those songs can’t quite match the excitement of the first half. The only second half song that manages to do that is the bonus track, which is actually a re-recorded version of “I’ve Been To Hell”, from the album Dark Assault. I’ve never heard that album before, so I’m obviously not familiar with the original, but it’s a perfect example of how closely the band has stuck to their roots, as this new recording is an excellent song that fits in wonderfully with the first half of this album.
Due to my disappointment with the second half, I can’t say Rise of The Hero is the classic it seemed to be after seven tracks, but it’s still a great album for sure, and obviously fans of the band will find a lot to love, while fans of classic German power metal with slight touches of 80’s heavy metal are also recommended to give this a listen or two. Once again, Iron Savior delivers a solid album that falls just short of being excellent.
Written by Travis