Iron Savior – Skycrest (AFM Records)Monday, 21st December 2020
Established as a premiere power metal act globally, Iron Savior returned rather quickly from last year’s vibrant Kill or Get Killed effort with Skycrest. Vocalist/guitarist Piet Sielck behind the scenes had to deal with not only the 2020 pandemic that hit the world, but also the recovery of bassist Jan-Soren Eckert who was diagnosed with lymphoma cancer and now is fully engaged in the lineup despite months of chemotherapy treatments. Continuing to push forth an equal mix of pounding, uplifting anthems and the right traditional trademarks plus the occasional left-field ‘ballad’, we have another quality record that intertwines sci-fi / metal themes with proper, catchy hooks and melodies that stay embedded in the brain/body for a lifetime.
The band always reaches for the right choruses and aligns with equally engaging riffs, building things out with lead breaks and accents that keep melody and power top of mind – much like their predecessors from Accept and Judas Priest to Helloween. It’s hard not to headbang or succumb to the unison vocal aspects of highlights such as “Our Time Has Come” or the straightforward, pounding “Raise the Flag of Metal” – the latter containing all the fire and brimstone aspects that parallel syncopation stage moves as the crowds scream in glee. Keyboard nuances add character to the Sielck/Küstner axe harmonies and counterpoint clean to electric rhythms for “Hellbreaker”, while the speed chase sequences for “Silver Bullet” prove the band isn’t content to let the accelerator be a thing of the past. “Ease Your Pain” has special significance as a ballad, featuring Jan on vocals and tackling his personal feelings about surviving his cancer experience – making this another standout track, imagining many lighters or cell phones aligning to this emotional arrangement.
You want to be delighted and entertained with the ideas when it comes to traditional, power metal – an escape from your everyday stress and strife. Iron Savior continually succeeds in that regard due to their high-quality standards and inherent values of what they want to deliver and what they know the fans deserve. As such, Skycrest is another strong record to keep the band in the upper tier of German vanguard metal.