Over the last, maybe, two months I've been fairly reluctant to check out smaller, more obscure metal bands. Which is a pretty disturbing fact, considering how much fun I used to have seeking out all sorts of these albums. But somewhere along the way the repetitiveness and unoriginality of a good majority of said bands just got to me, and I didn't feel like wasting my time listening to the same thing over and over. Closed minded? Perhaps. But I don't especially care. Either way, despite confessing this, my favourite metal sub-genre remains German power metal. Which isn't exactly such an original genre, interestingly enough. Yet despite some of the genre's band's tendencies to "borrow" from one another, it still manages to sound fun and, dare I say, fairly fresh. Formerly a side project of the influential Kai Hansen, Iron Savior is one of the lesser known bands in the scene. And I must admit, not even I've heard anything from the band, but I was still fairly interested in hearing what they could do.
With their 2007 effort, Megatropolis, Iron Savior takes a leaf out of a rather large number of their contemporaries. They aren't out to reinvent the wheel, and instead seem content building on their established sound. Similarly to the likes of Primal Fear and Gamma Ray's newer material, Iron Savior makes use of a fairly simple, yet powerful formula. The music is driven by the heavy, yet melodic guitars of Piet Sielck and Joachim Kustner, whose powerful riffs and infectious soloing remain the most impressive aspect of the band's music. Songs such as The Omega Man, Running Riot, and Megatropolis make excellent use of the speed metal-esque riff structures and are among the most impressive tracks off the album. Piet Sielck's vocal efforts are also fairly notable in that they fit the music extremely well. Like the riffs, his screams and shouts retain a sense of heaviness, while not forsaking melody and catchiness all the same. The Omega Man perhaps exemplifies their style the best. One of the year's best power metal songs, its catchiness rivals the likes of The Sentinel by Judas Priest. The dual guitars
However, after an excellent first half Iron Savior's sixth studio album really falters. Cybernetic Queen and Cyber Hero are both sloppy offerings and as lighter goofier offerings, they sound extremely out of place after the savage Flesh or the quick paced title track. In fact Bother Cybernetic Queen and Cyber Hero wouldn't sound out of place on a Firewind or Edguy album. They're poppier outings, and despite at times sounding somewhat epic, they're just irritating and streamlined. The guitars have lost much of the aggression they once held, and no longer dominate the mix as effectively as they do during the likes of The Omega Man or Flesh. Sielck's voice, which fit the more speed metal-esque offerings due to its roughness, also sounds rather weak when he attempts to sing in a melodic manner suited more to a ZP Theart or Michael Kiske, which he unfortunately tries a lot during the last half of the album. Just as the first four tracks repeated the excellence of Running Riot, the final three tracks take more after Cybernetic Queen and Cyber Hero, closing the album off with a slew of weak, filler material. It leaves quite the awful aftertaste, which is fairly unfortunate as the album started out so promising.
With their sixth offering, Megatropolis, Iron Savior gets points for effort, but unfortunately do not craft any more than an adequate album. Perhaps one of the more top heavy albums of the year, it begins excellently with four impressive, vintage German power metal outings. Sure, it isn't anything new, but it's crafted excellently and is extremely infectious. The remaining tracks however sound more like modern power metal meets hard rock and unlike their predecessors, are simply not good enough to make up for the fact that the Firewinds, Hammerfalls, and Edguys of the world have recorded the same song a couple years earlier. But what can you do? I'd say the album is worth at least listening to a couple times, as for the first four songs (and especially The Omega Man) prevent the album from being a total failure. But aside from those, don't be expecting much.
The Omega Man