Iron Savior_Rise of the HeroIron Savior is one of those “comfortable old shoe” kind of bands. Every album is essentially the same and the quality ratio is generally respectable. They were never much for shifting stylistic paradigms and it’s fair to call them the AC/DC of overblown sci-fi power metal, but as long as the music was good, it was all fine. Sure, their recent output hasn’t exactly rivaled their classic early period stuff, but they never dropped a total dud either and 2011s The Landing was plenty of fun in all it’s overproduced, studio-abusing bombast.

Since their band lineage traces back to both Helloween and Gamma Ray, it’s no shock they serve up heaping doses of Germanic style Euro-power with all the typical genre conceits. However, Iron Savior always stood slightly apart by incorporating heavier guitars, rougher vocals and a classic metal spirit. That heaviness has led to some winning tunes and kept their material from becoming too fluffy and pirate-shirty. Rise of the Hero features the beloved Iron Savior sound and style, but unfortunately, the songs themselves are surprisingly flat and poorly executed. Some feel forced, others are filler and a few are total clunkers. It’s also overlong and contains a disastrous cover tune midstream which blows up the whole album. Not as heroic as you hoped, eh?

Despite the various shortcomings, there are a few good cuts in the vein of classic Savior, with opener “Last Hero” being the best of the bunch. It sports a big, over-the-top chorus (as all proper Savior songs should) and satisfying meat and taters riffs. Also enjoyable is “Revenge of the Bride,” which is a zippy, old school burner inspired by the Kill Bill movies, and “From Far Beyond Time” which has a classic Savior sound and a bit of Gamma Ray theatrics. “Burning Heart” is more of a traditional metal anthem with ballsy riffing and rough vocals, but it’s also too cheesy and a bit forced (and it may have the worst DIY video of all time, featuring Piet Sielck singing his lines as he drives to work or something).

Iron-Savior_2014Less convincing are tracks like “Thunder From the Mountains,” “Iron Warrior” and “Dragon King” which all come across as flat and uninspired, despite some cool, British Steel-esque riffing on the latter. Worse still is the awkward and slightly uncomfortable power-ballad “Demon” which goes nowhere fast, and closer “Fistraiser,” which screams filler to the heavens. The fatal coup de grace is the cover version of Mando Diao‘s “Dance With Somebody,” which is so awful and ill-conceived, it rivals Celtic Frost‘s infamous cover of Wall of Voodoo‘s “Mexican Radio” for sheer head-scratching befuddlement. If it was relegated to a bonus track, it would be a piffle to be ignored at all costs, but dropping it into the meat of the album is a highly dubious stratagem and ultimately, a platter killer.

As always, I love Piet’s rough, raspy vocals which are so unlike the usual balls-stuck-in-car-door histrionics so common in power metal. He always reminded me of Perry McCarty of long forgotten Warrior (go find their Fighting for the Earth album, trust me) and his harsher delivery works especially well alongside the heavy, meaty riffs Iron Savior is known for. Most importantly, he always sounds metal and mean, even when things veer into über cheese (except on “Dance With Somebody,” of course). He and Joachim Kustner do a good job delivering big riffs and fun harmonies and whether they’re in speedy, Helloween-y mode or their stripped-down, early 80s Judas Priest style, they consistently write engaging, enjoyable leads. Sadly, the songs they drop them into aren’t all that good or consistent this time out.

I still go back the first few Savior albums often and I’ll always be a sucker for their blend of old school metal and Euro-power, but Rise of the Hero feels like a rush job that doesn’t represent what the band is capable of. The sound is there, the energy is there, but the songs just aren’t. Worth a spin for diehard fans, but it’s clearly not them at their best. Everyone else, go grab Unification or Dark Assault.

Rating: 2.0/5.0
Label: AFM Records
Websites:  |
Release Dates: EU: 2014.28.02  |  NA: 03.04.2014

  • Realkman666

    Time to give them another… oh, 2/5.

    • HA!

      • Realkman666

        Watching the video, I have to wonder if they recorded about 250 songs 15 years ago and have been releasing them as albums once in a while. Shocking.

        Still better than the Sonata Arctica video.

        • They look like a group of middle school teachers rather than a metal band.

          • Realkman666

            It’s lame, but I was able to watch the whole thing without feeling physical pain.

          • You’re a better man than me!

          • Realkman666

            I have learned to appreciate German self-loathing and deprecation.

          • Iron Savior

            We’re old dudes, man ;-)… but none of us teaches…

          • I shouldn’t talk. Im old and I used to teach.

          • Patrick Winter

            So what?

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    When I was in high school in the 1980s my friend was ithe drummer in a christian pop band and they made a video exactly like this Iron Saviour promo…

  • RagE

    This album might be bad, but thank you for introducing me to Warrior! Fighting for the eath is like a dream come true for any Savatage fan! That vocal, That guitar tone, that song!

    • Track their debut album down. It’s really really good.

      • RagE

        Found a mint Japanese vinyl. On its way in the mail right now m/

  • Iron Savior

    Too bad that the songs didn’t unfold to you, but that’s a matter of taste, of corps. Though it’s a bit surprising since ROTH gets top ratings in Europe and also a 89 out of 100 from Japanese supercritical Burrn! magazine…
    Working on catching you better next time ;-)
    Best, Piet m/

    • Cheers, Piet!

      • Iron Savior

        Cheers! :-)

    • Patrick Winter

      Album is great. This review is just off.

  • Iron Savior

    And honestly… I cannot picture ourselfs in a polished show-off video at all :-)
    This is us… no flavors added ;-)

  • Zadion

    TBH, I thought that video for Burning Heart was really amusing. It’s just idle fun and shows they’re not taking themselves too seriously.

  • harley_d68

    Warrior is essential. Haven’t reviewed ROTH yet, but it’s one I have been anticipating since The Landing, which I thought was fantastic.

  • Well, at-least it’s not an inferior re-recording of a classic album! I will probably check this one out.

  • MeatWolf

    I never really liked IS but this album is quite good, lots of well-done songs, great choirs, catchy choruses, Piet’s vocals are still great (hello, Kai). The mixing is a bit muddy and the 2nd half comes with some fillers on boards but still 2/5 is kinda too low for this.

    • I love the band, but this time only about half the songs resonated for me and the others felt very meh.

  • Iron Savior

    ROTH enters German album charts at # 76 :-)