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filler arc - 60%

Demon Fang, November 24th, 2021

Interlude is an interesting proposition, to say the least. A mixture of live recordings, new material they couldn’t quite fit onto Unification, and a cover of the Judas Priest classic “Desert Plains” should at least make for a fun bit of fanservice. Unification was already a bit of a marathon run and if any more tracks were to be added, I think it’d actually explode. Not to mention that they’d drag the quality down, as the new material is generally decent at best. The choruses are generally fine – vaguely catchy, a bit of escalation from the riffing – but the verses vacillate between plodding (“Stonecold” is a particularly egregious example of this) and half-developed, like they were left on the cutting room floor during the Unification sessions. “The Hatchet of War” bucks that trend with some punchy speed metal riffing and some expertly layered melodies for the chorus. Still, that’s one out of four that stands tall enough. Otherwise, this just has “diehard fans only” written all over it.

The live recordings of five songs from the self-titled album are given the bottom end that they needed. This gives “For the World” a bit of extra oomph for those pugilistic, mid-paced sort of triplets in the first half of its verses and Sielck’s vocals have more oomph – more power to them that gives him a more booming presence. Otherwise, it’s just this decently hard-hitting pre-chorus and sing-a-long chorus within an okay song. It’s a bit out of place since three of the other four are the best cuts from the self-titled album (although no “Atlantis Returns” makes Homer something something), and the other song is the joint Gamma Ray/Iron Savior power metal classic, “Watchers in the Sky”. Other than that, umm… some of the added duets between Sielck and Hansen in “Brave New World” are pretty cool. That’s about it.

Definitely appreciate those touches, but they don’t add all that much extra life to the songs. Some extra bottom end and a slightly sharper tone are cool novelties, but about all they make me want to do is get a time machine to travel back in 1999 to see this show. Really, it’d be easy to surmise the whole thing by saying “the Judas Priest cover is the best thing about the album”. The new material – “The Hatchet of War” aside – is generally mediocre, and the live recordings, while fine on their own terms, are certainly no Live Without Sense. They’re not quite Unleashed in the East. Which leaves us with the Judas Priest cover. Iron Savior’s cover of “Desert Plains” is faithful to the original – it still has that catchy beat and that overall vibe of just cruising through the desert given its more chill composition. But that gives us a good cover and a good song amidst mediocre material and incrementally better but relatively none too necessary live recordings.

It’s what it is.