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It's their sound and they're sticking to it. - 82%

hells_unicorn, August 22nd, 2007

Ten years to the day that this band first hit the scene with Kai Hansen and Thomen Stauch lending their musical credibility to long-time producer Piet Selick, the beast that is known as Iron Savior has been remarkable in it’s refusal to change with the tides of public opinion. At times this tenacity can come across as stubbornness, mostly because it stands alone aside other bands that decided to take either the symphonic, progressive, or electronic route in order to augment the genre. Iron Savior’s “Megatropolis” is yet another consistent offering that old guard Judas Priest fans and younger fans of their imitators will surely be pleased to sink their teeth into.

Although Iron Savior’s music has always been a consistent mix of hard-hitting power riffs, growled yet tonal vocals, fast drumming and catchy songwriting, there is a sense of differentiation between the last few albums and the earlier material. The influence of additional lead vocal work and songwriting by Kai Hansen and Jan Eckert gave the first 3 albums an additional icing on the cake that really put them over the top, whereas on the two previous albums there was a more disciplined sound under Piet’s strict songwriting formula. The result is a bit less lead guitar activity between the vocal and solo sections, a less dense overall atmosphere, and an extremely limited keyboard presence.

This album tends to reach back a little to earlier glory days, as was the case with “Condition Red”, resulting with the reintroduction of some similar themes. The title track features a chorus that is very similar to “Prisoner of the Void” off the Unification album, although the rest of the song features a large amount of Painkiller oriented riffs and less vocal harmony. “Farewell and Goodbye” sports the famous “Forces of Rage” theme from Unification during the solo section, which has been known to pop up from time to time in other releases. Throughout the rest of the album other snippets of Savior’s masterpiece 2nd album can be drawn out of the mix with relative ease.

Perhaps the lone exception to the nostalgia for 1999 Savior greatness is the Helloween inspired “Cyber Hero”, which has the most simple structure and qualifies for the catchiest power metal song I’ve heard that didn’t become comical in the process. The ending of the song, however, where Piet starts cursing in German at the video game because it shuts down before he can save is a true laugh fest. Other tracks such as “Flesh” and “A tale from down below” take the cake for the heaviest among Savior’s compositions, as well as a lyrical change of pace in favor of a horrific take on the Sci-Fi genre. Aside from this, everything is a consistent restatement of the exact same formula that has been heard before from Piet and company.

When looking back at the previous 5 albums put out by this fine flock of musicians, I’ve noticed a very gradual decline in quality since “Unification”, and it has continued to an extent here. It’s fun, it’s a truly great listen, but it doesn’t deliver that same magic that the band did during 1999-2001. It’s just a little too safe and it doesn’t contain the same epic concept that first drew me to the band. It will likely be next to impossible for this band to write a bad album, but unfortunately it seems less and less probable that this band will ever make an album that will kick my ass the way those albums did.