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Back to Basics. - 85%

hells_unicorn, October 3rd, 2006

After the exodus of Kai Hansen following the "Dark Assault" release, the remaining members of the classic era of Iron Savior began to reshuffle their roles. Jan Eckert gave up any lead vocal duties, and Adreas Kuck accepted having his keyboard duties down-graded. The result was still a fine product in "Condition Red", but not up to par with what they were capable of with that line-up. Following it's release, Jan Eckert departed for greener pastures with Masterplan, and Andreas Kuck pretty much dropped off the face of the metal world, thus ending the classic era of Iron Savior.

What this album is, in actuality, is a more stripped down version of the pre-Unification Iron Savior, though without Kai Hansen and with Thomas Knack on the drums. The guitar sound is much more polished than the debut album, but the role of the keys have been drastically reduced. With the exception of the interlude to "Wings of Deliverance", the album is pretty much devoid of keyboard tracks and most of the atmospheric effects are accomplished through guitars.

Although he gets the job done well on bass and carries former lead vocalist credentials, Yenz is the weak link on this album. His basslines are not nearly as present or as raunchy sounding as Eckert's, and his potential as a secondary lead vocalist are not tapped on this album. Album concept or not, the variety found on the 2nd and 3rd studio releases are a plus that should not be abandoned for the sake of getting back to basics.

One strength that this album possesses that is a drastic improvement over the last is the vocal tracks, particularly during the choruses. Songs including the title track, "Time will tell", and "Star Chaser" have choruses that are give the songs such a dense texture that it reminds me of 80s era Queen. Piet Selick really pushes the limits of his range on a couple of these tracks, and also explores his lower range on such slower tracks like "Machine World".

Another strength are the lead tracks on here. Piesal really has his act together on this album. Solos such as the ones found on "Stand Against the King", "Break the Curse", "Star Chaser" and "H.M. Powered Man" are staples of his bluesy, yet crazy lead approach. Piet does his share of melodic leads on the faster and more epic sounding tracks. But the two greatest leads are the trade-offs between the two on "Machine World" and the guest leads on "Wings of Deliverance" provided by Martin Christian of veteran power metal outfit Paragon.

As a whole, there are no bad songs on here. But individual highlights where all the elements come together to create stand out tracks include the title track, "Tyranny of Steel", "Wings of Deliverance", "Star Chaser", and "Machine World". The others are solid songs, but don't really stand out as being exceptional when compared with past work.

In conclusion, this is a good album, but I think there is some sound maintanence that needs to occur before I can get really jazzed up about this new line-up. I would recommend trying out Yenz doing some brief lead tracks on some of the songs and getting another keyboardist. Power metal fans and fans of late 80s era Judas Priest will like this, but the problem is that aside from Piet's vocals there is little to keep them distinct from the growing number of Priest worshippers.