"Skycrest" (AFM Records; 2020)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Okay, I haven't re-listened to "Titancraft" in preparation for my review of "Skycrest" but I gotta tell ya: If "Titancraft" sounds anything like "Skycrest," I may have to add another half guitarsaw to my "Titancraft" review.

I'm just blown away by "Skycrest." I mean, I've been a fan of Iron Savior for a long time now. My first review of the band (below) is from 1999, for crying out loud. But "Skycrest" just lit up my listening experience from the moment the second track starts (I say "second track" because the first track is kind of an cinematic instrumental introduction). But when the title track, "Skycrest," starts with its driving metal guitars and truly soaring vocals, it just grabbed me and sucked me in. It's an amazing, epic song that sets the stage for the rest of the CD. And "Skycrest" doesn't slow down to take a breath until the second-to-last track, "Erase Your Pain," which sits just where it should sit before the album closes out with the freight train-like "Ode to the Brave."

The production throughout is big and bold and pure and crystal and you just keep reaching for the volume knob because this music demands to be played loud. I've already used the word "epic" in this review but there's no better word to describe "Skycrest." Easily one of my favorite releases of the year.

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"Titancraft" (AFM Records; 2016)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

"Titancraft" is a full-length album of all-original material from Iron Savior. The good news is that it's exactly what you want from the band. The bad news is that it's exactly what you'd expect from the band.

Okay, that "bad news" I mentioned in the above paragraph ... I'm not one of those who actually believes that a band has to deliver something new and different in order to be successful. My favorite band is Motorhead and, when Lemmy was still alive, I knew exactly what I'd get when I bought a new Motorhead album. It's what I wanted. That's why I bought it. If the band had recorded a bluegrass album I would have been disappointed. When I wanted to hear Motorhead, I wanted to hear the Motorhead I expected.

And that's what you get with Iron Savior's new release. "Titancraft" is a big, ballsy, power metal album with heavy guitars, soaring vocals and, for the most part, fast paced rhythm. As with many Iron Savior albums, it's got a science fiction theme to many of the tracks here but some of them, including my favorite, "Gunsmoke," steer away from that.

Yes, it's very familiar in style to previous Iron Savior albums but, goddammit, that's what I want when I listen to an Iron Savior album. If you're a fan of this band's previous material, you're gonna love "Titancraft."

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"Battering Ram" (Noise / Sanctuary; 2004)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Most of the time, when a band changes personnel as often as Iron Savior does, there's no consistency between releases. One release is better than another release or one sounds nothing like the other and on and on and on. It gets rather annoying, especially when you really like one of the band's CDs only to discover that the others sound completely different.

Amazingly and happily, Iron Savior continues to surprise. "Battering Ram" is another notch in the belt of this great power metal band, despite the fact that Piet Sielck is the only remaining original band member.

Loaded with towering, epic songs and sounds, "Battering Ram" is at least as good as the band's previous releases and in some ways even better. Throughout, it's consistently heavier, leaning more toward Judas Priest territory than, say, Stratovarius. Razor sharp guitar riffs cut away at the air. The vocals are soaring and solid. The tempos faster than I remember them being on the previous records. And, of course, the production is brilliant.

"Battering Ram" begins with the title cut and gets things started off with a bang. From that point, the CD never lets up, delivering song after song of driving, well-played and bigger-than-life sound.

Yeah, okay. Things get a little cheesy with the last song, "H.M. Powered Man" (yes, 'H.M.' stands for 'heavy metal'). But who cares? By that point, you're so absorbed by what you've heard so far, you're up and rarin' to be a heavy metal powered man yourself.

Iron Savior: Thomas Nack - drums, percussion; James "Piesel" Kustner - guitars, backing vocals; Yenz Leonhardt - bass, backing vocals; Piet Sielck - guitar, lead vocals.

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"Condition Red" (Noise Records; 2002)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

"Condition Red" is more of the same from the great Iron Savior, only this time they focus a little more on the rocking and a little less on creating a "novel told with music" like "Unification" (see review below).

Whereas "Unification" was more along the lines of Gamma Ray or Stratovarius, "Condition Red" plays more like a Judas Priest, Accept or perhaps an Iron Maiden album. The guitars seem heavier, the vocals are heartier, and the songwriting more in the kick-you-in-the-ass vein. It may not be quite as sophisticated as "Unification" and it's not supposed to be. Hence, "Condition Red" induces headbanging more readily.

That's all good news. Pop in "Condition Red," turn it up to 10 and just let your ears bleed. If this CD is anything, it's a powerhouse of heavy metal. Songs like "Mindfeeder," "Walls of Fire," "Tales of the Bold" and the title track all set the pace, which is fast and furious. 

The Limited Edition includes two additional tracks, "I Will Be There" and "Crazy" which sound a little different than the other tracks (perhaps they were recorded at a different time?) but still rock strong.

Iron Savior: Andreas Kück  - Keyboards & Vocals; Thomas Nack - Drums & Percussion; Piet Sielck - Guitar & Lead Vocals; Joachim "Pisel" Küstner - Guitar & Vocals; Jan-S. Eckert - Bass & Vocals.

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"Dark Assault" (Noise Records; 2001)

Reviewed by Snidermann

When I first sat down to listen to Iron Savior's "Dark Assault," I expected just another CD from just another prog group. What a bore. However, when I finished listening to the CD, I knew they were something special. 

Not only does the band rock hard, they also know how to tell a great story and that is very important. "Dark Assault" is as good a release as I've heard in awhile. It has all the aspects of a truly exceptional recording and, with over an hour of music, there is plenty to enjoy. Right from the first note, I knew this was one talented band and the more I heard the more I like the way this band spins rock'n'roll.

One particular note of interest: the band does a very cool rendition of the Judas Priest classic "Delivering The Goods."

Iron Savior: Thomas Nack, Joachim "Piesel" Kustner, Ynez Leonhardt and Piet Sielek.

"Unification" (Noise Records; 1999)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

What a great record! "Unification" is a hard rock/heavy metal triumph. More than just a great sounding record, this CD is an epic science fiction extravaganza. Even if you forget all the killer guitar work, the great song-writing and the balanced, creative vocals, "Unification" works because it is so rich, so lush in every department: musicianship, songwriting, arrangement - that it becomes more than just a great rock'n'roll CD - it becomes a novel told with music.

You can't call "Unification" simply a soundtrack to what could be a great sci-fi movie because it's more than that. It is a stand-alone achievement that is to progressive heavy metal what Robert Heinlein is to the world of science fiction novelists.

And, if you're one of those people that is turned off by sci-fi concept albums, please don't let that steer you away here. Even if you ignore its concept, "Unification" still rocks hard. Our recommendation: Buy it now.

IRON SAVIOR is: Jan-S. Eckert, bass, backing vocals; Piet Sieick, guitar, lead and backing vocals; Dan Zimmerman, drums and percussion; Kai Hansen, guitar, lead and backing vocals; Andreas Kuck, keyboards and backing vocals.

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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