Iron Savior - Kill Or Get Killed - (8.5/10)
Published on April 8, 2019
From dust & rubble…
Standing proud among the legions of bands who need not change their formula for any reason is the German power metal machine Iron Savior. They’re not immune to the occasional odd decision here and there – such as the overlooked Reforged, or the totally pointless re-hash Megatropolis 2.0 – but generally speaking, I.S. have no ‘bad’ albums. In recent years, especially, they’ve been on a winning streak with the epic vibes of 2014’s Rise Of The Hero and the slightly less sparkly, but still hard-rockin’, Titancraft making waves in the power metal community. This year, Sielck and co. hit right back in our faces with Kill Or Get Killed. A brutal title for sure but is this reflected with a de-tuned, breakdown-infested, deathcore tone? Of course not – this is Iron Savior! Classic old-school power metal with a hint of NWOBHM spirit is on the menu as always.
Any expansion of the Germans’ sound can be found in the use of keyboards effectively sprinkled throughout the album. It doesn’t reach the same celestial level as on Rise Of The Hero but it definitely perks up the atmosphere of tracks like “Until We Meet Again”. The 8-minute epic is not as exciting as it should be, but some pounding grooves here and there, mixed with the aforementioned ethereal keyboards, stop it from becoming fodder. Thankfully, the anthemic “Legends Of Glory” is on hand to end the album on a satisfactory note. Back at the other end of the record, the title-track, “Roaring Thunder” and “Eternal Quest” are an amazingly punchy trio with which they hook the listener. These three tracks showcase Iron Savior at their best – with all their traits being exhibited at full-pelt. Hard-hitting riffs, catchy choruses and shredding solos. It’s so simple, yet so uniquely them.
Piet Sielck’s voice seems to age like a fine wine, and his vocal patterns and melodies also appear to improve as the years pass. He still uses that irritating technique where choruses don’t end on the tonic note which utterly infuriates me, but KOGK is lighter on that annoying characteristic. All in all, the choruses on this record are masterful, especially the shout-along “Stand Up And Fight” and the soaring “Eternal Quest”. Also worth mentioning is the mega-’80s inspired “From Dust & Rubble” which not only sounds like an action-film montage, but has one of the proudest singalong-style refrains in the band’s catalogue. The jewel in the crown of this album is track 7: “Heroes Ascending”. With some refreshingly deep chugging, non-stop momentum, and the most splendid chorus melody since “The Last Hero” – it’s surely the first instant highlight on a great album.
The production quality has cleaned up good sinceTitancraft. Instruments are generally much clearer and shinier, but haven’t lost one inch of that satisfying grit. Sielck’s vocals, along with the pleasingly thick choral backing, stand out proudly in the forefront. Tempos are refreshingly varied between the full-on power metal assaults and the more restrained martial stompers. For what little moments of dipped energy it has Kill Or Get Killed isn’t really worth complaining about. It’s more of Iron Savior doing what they do best. After 23 years in the business, it’s heart-warming to see one of the sub-genre’s true pioneers doing their country, genre and fans proud. In Sielck’s own words: ‘Keep the faith and carry on’.