REVIEW: IRON SAVIOR – “Kill Or Get Killed”
Power metal, sci-fi themes, sexy-ass riffs, fantastic laser beams and intergalactic heroes charging at the sight of injustice and evil; what more could a nerdy metalhead want? Iron Savior has been at the space sentinel business for more than 20 years now, and like that go-to old shoe or jeans, always delivers the goods quality-wise. ‘Kill Or Get Killed’, yet another studio album by Piet Sielck (vocals, guitars) and his fellow space marines Jan-Sören Eckert (bass), Joachim “Piesel” Küstner (guitars) and newcomer Patrick Klose (drums), comes as a statement that it’s really, really hard to destroy the most resilient, enduring and stubborn metal of them all: the Teutonic.
Like every one of Iron Savior’s journeys into space since their debut, this is stacked with crunchy riffs, decent hooks and catchy, melodic passages, but there’s a stronger sense of nostalgia here, as the atmospheric and slower elements seen on efforts like their 1997 eponymous record and ‘Unification’ (1999). This doesn’t appear until later in the album, though.
The title track opens up with the ever-so characteristic riffs by Piet and Küstner, which then bursts into a sexy stumper full of attitude and personality. The chorus here is one of the best in the record, with a perfect blend of power and cheesiness.
“Roaring Thunder” elevates the cheesiness by a LOT, so bring your insulin shot to this. Similarly paced to “Kill Or Get Killed”, but way more bombastic and pompous. Things continue to get sugary by the minute when “Eternal Quest” comes in (I mean, look at this title, come on), but gladly the band is at its best here with on-point instrumental and marvelous vocal lines by Piet, especially in the epic chorus.
Piet’s voice, by the way, is always something to praise. His harsh, raspy vocals are a breath of fresh air when comparing to the vast sea of power metal screamers who just lost their balls in a razor accident (or gender reassignment surgery, who knows?), and the Teutonic style of power metal is a perfect fit for his talents.
Songs like “From Dust and Rubble”, “Sinner or Saint” and “Stand Up and Fight” drink from the heavier side of the band. With good tempo and high-octane riffing, they deliver each note here which such conviction that it’s hard not to get your blood pumping and fists in the air. While not even remotely creative, these moments are filled with energy and more than enough to keep you on your feet.
But hey, it’s not Iron Savior if there isn’t a bombastic, epic anthem to tell the tales of those macho heroes I mentioned earlier, right? Fright not, “Heroes Ascending” is here to right that wrong. In a mix of Blind Guardian-esque leads and guitar speed that would make Kai Hansen blush, Piet and company sing their opus to the heroes of the universe with killer atmosphere and a strong, memorable chorus.
“Never Stop Believing” has an uplifting aura and will probably serve as background music to workout, running or whatever excuse you use once a week to tell everyone you’re not sedentary. This is lighter than the other tracks and offers a more unpretentious approach to Iron Savior’s characteristic sound.
Remember that feeling of nostalgia I mentioned earlier? “Until We Meet Again” and closer “Legends of Glory” are here to take you back to the heydays in the best way possible. The former is a mid-tempo juggernaut packed with a spacey atmosphere, riffs full of feeling and a strong emotional charge, while the latter features moments that could easily be on ‘Unification’ or ‘Dark Assault’ (2001), especially in the more aggressive parts that precede the chorus and on the absolutely killer solo; best way to end the album.
‘Kill or Get Killed’ is essentially the same Iron Savior we’ve seen since ever, but with a stronger sense of saluting the past. It’s slightly better than its predecessor ‘Titancraft’ (2016) quality-wise, but way more epic and grand. In fact, this is my favorite album from Piet & co. since ‘The Landing’ (2011) and easily their most significant one since ‘Megatropolis’ (2007) in terms of songwriting. Despite not having an earth-stomping classic tune like “Titans of Our Time”, “Atlantis Falling” or “Riding on Fire”, it has the “Piet Sielck seal of badassness ®”, so you’ll find plenty to enjoy here. Long live Iron Savior.