Iron Savior – Skycrest Review

Iron Savior may not have started the whole Euro-power genre, but founder/vocalist/guitarist Piet Sielck certainly had his hands on the original putty as a member of the early version of Helloween. Though he never ended up recording with them, you can hear the influence of that protozoic era of power metal in everything Iron Savior does. Since their 1997 debut they’ve consistently churned out quality Euro-power with strong links to classic metal and they’ve always delivered it with more heft and muscle than 99.999% of their frilly be-shirted peers. Skycrest is their 12th platter of metallic anthems to the Metal Godz and things are as they should be. The choruses are big, the guitars are beefy, and the attitude is tongue-in-cheek but metal as fook. In the promo materials Mr. Sielck tells of trying to write upbeat, uplifting material even though the pandemic was really getting him down. Well Piet, mission accomplished. This is a fairly triumphant and stirring dose of metal with the just the right amount of cheese, glorious cheese. Strap on the sword cocktail stick, folks. We’re going to sample all the fermented iron we can find.

After the mandatory table-setting intro, the title track kicks things off well with a classic piece of Iron Savior material. Heavy, meaty riffs propel a straightforward metal attack with Piet’s rough, raspy voice adding more grit and gravitas than Euro-power usually tolerates. When that chorus hits though, there’s no denying this is Euro-power in all its over-the-top excess. Fists will be raised and laser swords will be wielded over-dramatically. And things sit right in that sweet spot for the majority of Skycrest. Cuts like “Our Time Has Come” and “Welcome to the New World” are rife with hooks and restrained bombast, while “Souleater” takes a more classic metal approach, sounding a whole lot like modern era Accept and the uber simple delivery belies how deeply the song sinks into your brainstem and lays earworms. That stupid “whoa-ohh-ohh” line in the chorus has been rattling around in the Head ov Steel for weeks and I’m getting worried I need to see someone about it.

There’s also the obligatory “metal is the Way” song called “Raise the Flag” in which Piet tells you how to raise the metal flag and why such metal flags must be raised repeatedly. It’s completely stupid, third-rate Manowar schtick but around the halfway point you’ll realize you like it anyway and start fashioning metal flags from old sheets and towels. Other album highpoints include the extra-excessive and fun werewolf yarn “Silver Bullet,” and the impossibly catchy “End of the Rainbow,” which is like classic Hammerfall but with a slipped disc and crushing child support obligations. Only power ballad “Erase Your Pain” falls short, and even that one grows on you because the emotions feel more sincere in the age of COVID. At 56 minutes the album is a bit on the long side and maybe a song or 2 could be cut, but it doesn’t feel as long as it is, so that’s a good sign.

As always Piet is the man of the hour. His raspy, rough and tumble vocal delivery separates Iron Savior from most Euro-power acts and gives the material a much harder, meaner edge. He’s always reminded me of Perry McCarty of Warrior and their Fighting for the Earth opus is still one of my all time favorite metal albums, so naturally I’m a fan of the style. His guitar-work has always been exceptionally hooky and he’s adept at crafting little flourishes and details that leave big impressions in the ear. He’s joined once again by Joachim Küstner and together they weave all sorts of Euro-power fireworks to propel the songs along effectively without overwanking themselves into a corner.

Once again Iron Savior has delivered a fun, memorable platter of tunes that marry the best of power and traditional metal. There’s a slightly darker edge to some of the lyrics which fit the times, but the music is largely upbeat and high spirited. It’s not quite end of year list material, but we need as much of this upbeat, mood-elevating stuff as we can find in 2020, so thanks for the smiles, Piet. Iron is once again our savior.1

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: AFM
Releases Worldwide: December 4th, 2020

Show 1 footnote

  1. No, not you, Ferrous.
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