REVIEW: IRON SAVIOR – “Titancraft”
Piet Sielck has been writing great music for so long that it became almost proverbial, reaching a legendary status in the Euro power metal scene that only a handful of gurus have achieved. Some examples are his longtime friend and co-founder of Helloween Kai Hansen, Hansi Kürsch or Michael Kiske. Sielck’s band, Iron Savior, has been relentlessly charging the masses with their sci-fi-themed Teutonic power metal since 1997, when their highly-acclaimed self-titled album debuted, gathering thousands for the group’s intergalactic journey. So, when you hear that the Germans are deploying yet another effort to our mortal ears, you pay attention. Allied with his loyal space-crew, Jan-Sören Eckert (bass, additional vocals), Thomas Nack (drums) and Joachim “Piesel” Küstner (guitars), Piet takes flight once again with ‘Titancraft’, Iron Savior’s 9th campaign into the cruel and cold depths of the galaxies.
Like it always is with Iron Savior albums, there is absolutely no desire to reinvent the power metal wheel, but only to refine and improve the formula, which so many bands are desperately trying to do with mediocre albums. Following the path of past endeavors such as ‘Rise of the Hero’ and ‘The Landing’, the band succeeds in injecting you with a crunchy and cheesy dose of euro-power metal, and a tasty one at that. Taking off with an already-characteristic intro engulfed in a sci-fi atmosphere, the album bursts with “Titancraft”, a memorable, thunderous tune with a catchy melodic chorus and master-crafted riffs. This is how Iron Savior always begins its albums, and this is exactly how it should be. The album raises the bar even more with “Way of the Blade”, the best song of the record, in my opinion. Aggressive, fast and with a pompous chorus replete with choirs, this reminded me, to some degree, of the better stack of songs released in the early 2000’s by these guys, and it could easily feature on albums such as ‘Unification’ or ‘Battering Ram’.
Nothing is ever perfect, and the effort loses some steam with “Seize the Day” and “Gunsmoke” –the former raises the limits of cheesiness a little too much with rather bland and generic lyrics, while the second is actually solid in its construction – especially in the riff department – but doesn’t marry quite well with Iron Savior’s signature sound, making it sort of a fish out of water. “Beyond the Horizon” picks up the pace once again, and while it’s similar to “Seize the Day”, it has much better songwriting and a stronger build overall. “The Sun Won’t Rise in Hell” and “Strike Down the Tyranny” deliver a good balance between being cheesy and badass, consisting of memorable and powerful riffs and great vocal display by Piet, with his grave and rough voice. “Brothers in Arms” has a good vibe and an uplifting chorus, and it resonates well with its mid-paced and low-key approach compared to the other tracks. Then comes my absolute nightmare when listening to power metal albums –a ballad. I was definitely not expecting this, as Iron Savior is not known for a quieter, sadder approach. “I Surrender”, similarly to “Gunsmoke” feels completely out of place in an otherwise concise album, and I honestly don’t know why Piet decided to add this tune. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a horrible, unlistenable song, but it breaks the rhythm in a manner that makes the track very difficult to like. The album ends with “Rebellious”, which has a groovy vibe and a good sing-along chorus, making for one of the better songs of the effort.
Iron Savior has become a metal entity over the years. With ‘Titancraft’, relying on the same formulaic approach as ever, these guys prove once again why they are a reliable band. Unfortunately, I can’t help but put the album in the lower ranks of their discography, because even being a solid and fun effort, Iron Savior has put up amazing works over the years and this is not on par with the best of them. Flawed, but competent nevertheless, the album should provide a healthy dose of classic Iron Savior to the fans, but if you’re interested in listening to them and want a starting point, look for better displays such as ‘Iron Savior’, ‘Condition Red’ or ‘Dark Assault’.