During 1998 there was a sleeping giant that would once again awake with a vengeance, and its name was Metal. And I'm not talking about the half-heavy, ballad-steeped Glam Metal that only gave you part of the spirit, but the classic NWOBHM variety pioneered by the likes of JUDAS PRIEST and IRON MAIDEN.
Coming off the coat-tails of a rather impressive and experimental debut in the album titled after the band, this single gives us a first taste of what I refer to as the "Classic Iron Savior Line-up". This includes Bassist/Vocalist Jan-Sören Eckert (now in MASTERPLAN), GAMMA RAY front man and axeman Kai Hansen, and keyboardist Andreas Kuck. Together, with the efforts of both Dan Zimmerman on the 2nd album “Unification“, and Thomas Knack on 3rd offering “Dark Assault“, this line-up produced the what I believe is some of the best Metal there is out there. Sadly, none of these musicians (save Knack) are still at the right and left of frontman Piet Sielck.
This album showcases the abilities of all the members, balancing out rhythm section chops and keyboard textures with some rather brilliant guitar work on the part of both Hansen and Sielck. The production is extremely tight, especially when you consider that this release is 100% self-produced. Piet's vocals are highly distinct, walking a fine-line between the high-flying wails of Rob Halford, and the dirty grunts of Lemmy Kilmister.
The first two songs can be found in their original form on “Unification“, consisting of the more up-tempo rocker “Coming Home“ and more down-tempo cooker “Forces Of Rage“. The former starts off with a rather surreal keyboard intro, followed by a rather impressive bass intro courtesy of Jan Eckert. What follows is a classic JUDAS PRIEST style Rocker that makes me remember the glory days of “Painkiller“ and “Ram It Down“. The latter has the occasional fast transition, but mostly keeps the tempo down and relies more on a pounding heavy beat and a rather catchy melody in the guitar.
Track three is a live version of "Atlantis Falling", which is nearly as good as the original album version on the debut. Sadly there have not been any live releases by this band as of now, save the small collection present on Interlude, all of which are from the debut album. Although Thomen Stauch's tenure with IRON SAVIOR was short-lived, it would later lead to a rather interesting collaboration 8 years later known as SAVAGE CIRCUS.
The final track, as many others after it on other releases, is a JUDAS PRIEST cover. Like those others, this one is very faithful to the original, almost to the point of being difficult to distinguish from it. The primary differential is Piet's voice and the more modern production sound. If I had to pick a weak point on this release, it is the lack of anything innovative on this track. But this is a very small and forgivable flaw.
In conclusion, this is a good release to have, neither the JUDAS PRIEST cover or the live track can be found on any other CD. It is worth the extra money, although it is becoming a little hard to get a hold of as it's pretty far back in the IRON SAVIOR catalog.
(Online December 27, 2011)