Off the back of their impressive album, Sky Crest, Iron Savior have come back to continue their quest to prove why they’re one of the leading forces of speed/power metal and they’ve done just that with their brand new 15th milestone Firestar record.
The album starts off in a rather intriguing way as the opening track sounds somewhat like a cheerful waltz in a circus fairground scenario before ending with a climactic tone, similar to orchestras when a bombastic intro leads to more exciting things to come. ‘Curse of the Machinery’ is where things get exciting as in the blink of an eye, the pace picks up. The all-too-familiar spaceship design that has been a trademark of the band’s album covers for over 10 years comes to life once again. With all systems engaged and engines warmed up, it’s blast-off time as they take flight to another metal galaxy. Piet Sielk’s gravelly vocals travel like violent wind gusts that could blow you over while his and Joachim (Piesel) Kuchner’s aggressive guitar playing really hits hard where one cannot hold back a satisfying grin. Patrick Klose’s double kick technique is inch-perfect as he hammers away at the bass drum faster than a minigun and the synths cap off this atmospheric, skull-shattering experience.
If there’s a band who could put the image of their album artwork to music like movie directors composing tracks for each scene, this is your best example. I can actually picture myself in a cinema with each transition suiting the songs as they flow. The mix of speed and power metal are nicely merged together with the standout sounds being epic choruses and major scales, but the guitars add that cheeky element of vintage vibes with the extra growl and bite. What stood out a lot in this album was the use of tubular bells in certain songs like ‘Rising from the Ashes’ which added a dramatic, yet adventurous feeling. In addition, the tone of the vocals, lyrical content, and raising keys in the final choruses reinforce the prevalent themes of glory, honour and victory. That itself is already a signature characteristic of power metal which Piet’s voice seems to have been made for. The phrasing and texture perfectly resemble a warrior trying to take down their rivals with a sense of accomplishment.
After all the fast-paced songs with the possible need of at least a mini break to absorb the intensity, ‘Across the Wastelands’ acts as if we could call it an interlude as things slow down a bit to mid-tempo, but the energy levels aren’t lost as we are entertained with top quality shredding, tapping and once again explosive drumming, so that by the time the next track kicks in with full speed, the fun will pick up right where it left off. According to Sielk, topics emphasised in the album other than science fiction include “the basic rules of coexistence, about respect and tolerance, about good and evil, and evidence” which in this day and age is unfortunately not discussed enough with the rise of populism, social media and pc culture. He also mentioned that ‘Through the Fires of Hell’ was dedicated to his wife and all the sacrifices he would make for her if necessary “I’ll be right by your side”. That’s a great sign of an artist to show their human side because behind their musical figure is a person as well who has compassion for another being. ‘Nothing is Forever’ could be interpreted as learning to let things go because the laws of the universe imply that everything changes constantly and that one shouldn’t cling to their passions or their loved ones as they won’t be around forever. Therefore, make the most of what you have now and cherish the good memories.
With a variety of topics all in one album, excellent musicianship and 1000 IQ imagination to put an album cover to music, you couldn’t ask for more and if Piet himself thinks that “the new songs surpass the material of the impressive predecessor album, Skycrest”, I fully agree with him because they have surpassed expectations indeed.
Firestar comes out on October 6th via AFM Records.