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Following the pinnacle of their career thusfar in Unification, and a rather impressive live/mini-studio album in Interlude, Iron Savior gives us a very tasty appetizer to their 3rd studio release. Much like the single that preceded Unification, dubbed Coming Home, this one gives us 2 tracks from the following studio album, and a Judas Priest cover.
The first thing to note here are the line-up changes that have occured since the last full length studio release. In 1999 Dan Zimmerman was one of the most in demand drummers in the genre, and participated in the recording of 3 full length studio albums by 3 separate bands (Gamma Ray, Freedom Call, and Iron Savior). Obviously juggling 3 seemingly equally successful projects is not something that can be maintained for a long time, so Zimmerman's departure is understandable. His replacement, Thomas Knack, is another drummer who has played in Gamma Ray and is equally as competent behind the kit as his predecessor. The other change is the addition of guitarist Joachim Kustner. Although he doesn't do any lead work on this single, he will later become the primary soloist and the replacement of Kai Hansen, who would depart after the release of Dark Assault.
The two tracks taken from Dark Assault are selections that are comparable to those that were selected for the previous single, highlighting the more up tempo cookers that dominate 75% of Iron Savior's studio albums. An interesting thing to note is that both singles consist of the 1st and 4th tracks of both the studio albums they are associated with. I've been to hell is uncut, and cooks with the best of them. Piet gives us a very memorable solo, and the thundering rhythm section pushes the song along with the same Judas Priest feel that has always driven them. Never Say Die has been shortened, and lacks a rather intriguing intro, but this takes nothing from the song as such intros are more suited to function as the overture to a full length album. The high points here are Piet's riveting vocals and the crazy leads that he and Kai trade during the solo section. Nothing short of brilliant.
The Judas Priest cover that occupies track 3 is a remake of The Hellion/Electric Eye. Much like every other Judas Priest cover Iron Savior has recorded, it is extremely faithful to the original version, although Piet's vocals provide a big enough contrast to make it distinct.
The final track on here is a cover of Krokus' Headhunter, and is my favorite track on this release. The primary point of interest here is the rather amazing vocal performance of Jan Eckert, who I believe actually manages to shoot his range up higher than anything I've heard Kai Hansen do in the early vocal work with Helloween. Piet's vocal efforts here are also quite good, providing us with yet another memorable duet, as highlighted by every Savior release from the classic era , spanning the period from the first album release up to Dark Assault.
If you are a fan of Iron Savior, or if you enjoy classic NWOBHM music, this is well worth adding to your collection. It gives you both 2 classic songs from the 80s glory days of heavy metal, and two brilliant hommages to the style that can also be found on Dark Assault. It may be a bit hard to come by, I myself was only able to obtain this CD from a second hand dealer.