Iron Savior – Titancraft (AFM Records)Sunday, 1st May 2016
One of the early architects of the German metal scene, Piet Sielck hooked up with a young Kai Hansen in Gentry, a Helloween precursor band. The pair would whip up a handful of songs that would end up on the band’s Helloween EP and Walls of Jericho full-length debut, or for Sielck to bolt in order to learn studio production in America. Sielck eventually reunited with Hansen and then-Blind Guardian drummer Thomen Stauch in the mid-’90s for the creation of Iron Savior, a band that has been on the power metal straight-and-narrow ever since. Therefore, it’s no surprise Titancraft nary budges an inch from the band’s core sound.
If we want to get fancy (or not), an easy comparison would be Hansen’s Gamma Ray. Both bands have evolved, albeit incrementally over the years, which explains why there’s some spillover from 2014’s dutiful Rise of the Hero to Titancraft. The usual power metal fare is abundant: Regular, pounding double-bass drums provide the steely backbone; high-flying melodies zip in and out, and the classic multi-tracked chorus effect is…in full effect. Thus, there’s some real sky-high moments here, like “Way of the Blade” and “The Sun Won’t Rise in Hell,” which in a way, sounds like Rage. But predictably, there’s some stock numbers here, like “Beyond the Horizon” or “Strike Down the Tyranny,” two songs that feel like literal re-writes of the band’s previous output.
The old adage with German metal applies with Iron Savior: don’t change your sound. Clearly, they haven’t, and while that suits the ever-loyal Euro metal hordes just fine, it doesn’t make for anything exciting or earth-shattering. However, that’s the trap bands like Iron Savior fall prey to: by getting locked into the power sound, you’re essentially going to get solid, quasi-workmanlike albums like Titancraft.