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Rising to the cosmos yet again. - 91%

hells_unicorn, July 29th, 2016
Written based on this version: 2014, CD, AFM Records

Some music was just made for the skies above, it's that close to painting the picture depicted by the titles and lyrics that come with the rest of the package. Freewheeling through nebula, afterburners blazing into the shimmering cosmos, this brand of metal takes the spirit of every great science fiction novel and film and integrates it so thoroughly into itself that it oozes from every single power chord. Such is the stock and trade of Iron Savior, seasoned veterans of the speed metal art with an ongoing concept that could pass for an answer to the Ray Bradbury question, and enough melodic hooks and attitude to rival Blind Guardian and Helloween. And as with any longstanding metal institution, their extensive back catalog sees some ebbing and flowing, resulting in an early, middle and current era trifecta that sees a slight dip in energy and ambitiousness in the second era, followed by a resurgence to first principles during the current one. Following their last album The Landing, which kicked off their return to form, Rise Of A Hero follows suit and ups the ante to levels comparable to where things started back in 1997.

It isn't really an understatement to say it, this album is all but a perfect retread of the self-titled debut without actually being an overt retread. It comes chock full of all the obligatory updates in production quality and precision that differentiates a recent album from the rougher and less compressed character of the early days of the power metal revival, but it's pretty hard to miss the parallels. Things begin with a well crafted instrumental track that is about as dense with spacey keyboards and heavily reverbed guitars as one would expect from Pink Floyd, but the experienced ear will also hear it as the natural evolution of what began with Judas Priest's "The Hellion" when said band's occasional fascination with outer space was taken to its logical conclusion. The rest of the album proves to be just what the brief prelude "Ascendance" suggests, a fast paced nod to the fastest and heaviest elements of 80s Judas Priest, but accompanied by the melodic character and chorus-approach of Judas Priest and a throaty, mid-ranged shout that's fairly close to earlier Blind Guardian.

Naturally every Iron Savior album has followed a similar formula and this one is no exception, but there is a greater sense of conceptual grandeur and turn-of-the-millennium nostalgia to this album that not quite as noticeable before. It's best heard on the really fast numbers such as "From Far Beyond Time" and "Firestorm", all of which have that warp speed, intergalactic war feel that dominated this band's sound when Kai Hansen was still in the fold. Similarly, "Thunder From The Mountains" reaches back even further into the primordial days of 80s German speed metal when Kai and Piet were writing songs together before Helloween formed, and the result is dangerously closer to "Ride The Sky" off the first Helloween LP. But even the slower material on here screams throwback with a modern production, such as "Dragon King" with that familiar early 80s "Heaven And Hell" inspired bass groove, and especially "The Demon" which could be likened to Judas Priest's early classic "Beyond The Realms Of Death" but in outer space. The only times where any real reminder to the current time period becomes obvious is the Kill Bill inspired lyrics of "Revenge Of The Bride" and the Mando Diao cover, the latter being the only song here that's maybe a tad lackluster.

Although there are some occasional consumers of this band's music that may pass on this due to a couple albums of this being enough for them, it's stipulated that anybody that likes this band or other associated acts such as Airborn, Paragon, Gamma Ray, Heavenly, Grave Digger, Helloween, Blind Guardian and countless others will eat this album up. Calling it by the numbers wouldn't be much of a stretch, though there are a few pleasant surprises on here such as a notably powerful vocal performance out of Piet Sielck that tops just about every song this band has crafted since 2002. The only thing that really separates the contents on here versus their opening trilogy of releases is that the sound here is a bit more compressed and tightly mixed, something that would actually be abandoned in favor of a fully retro late 90s production character on the album that would follow this one Titancraft. All hands on deck, warp speed Mr. La Forge...engage!!!

That's no moon. - 90%

Diamhea, March 1st, 2015
Written based on this version: 2014, CD, AFM Records

More of the same from Iron Savior? In the case of Rise of the Hero, this can be interpreted as either a blessing or a curse relative to the individual's point of view. Personally, the band hadn't truly blown me into the æther since the interstellar masterpiece Unification. Condition Red stands out ever so slightly, but while these Germans can always be relied on for fist-pumpers of high caliber, I couldn't help but shake the lingering perception that the formula was becoming a modicum worn at the seams, and cabin pressure was dropping fast. Enter The Landing, which started to move the band into a more consistently positive direction and set the stage for the unreal powerhouse (and what I am assuming is a companion-piece to the former) - Rise of the Hero.

You already know what the expect here, leather-clad speed metal riffage with hooks that simply never let up. Sielck's gruff yet melodically-apt vocals lead the charge, and the go-to ordnance lays waste to the defilade of their peers. Irregardless of the record as a whole, Rise of the Hero thrives on the fact that it contains nearly half-a-dozen monstrous heavy metal anthems of the absolute highest fucking order. On the band's other records you will get such quality piecemeal, but generally enough to remain engaged ("Titans of Our Time" from Condition Red for example), but the entire middle of this record is just unbelievably on point. I can't say enough about the quadrilogy that encompasses everything between "Burning Heart" and "Dragon King." "Thunder from the Mountains" levels expectations with that skittering main riff and layered chorus. I'm in awe by this point.

"Iron Warrior" taps the proverbial brakes and lets the verse structure propel as opposed to leaning too heavily on the chorus. Taut and impermeable, it elucidates the fact that Iron Savior has this formula down to such a science that it nearly escapes conventional logic. The structural density is affable, and the scooped, saturated distortion gives the guitars' bite a classic throwback appeal, measured cautiously against the plugging bass lines and the piston-charged pummeling courtesy of Nack. As if I haven't gushed enough over Rise of the Hero, the moment that coalesces all that is right and "fuck yeah!" in German heavy metal is the stomping, fist-pumping (I suppose you'd have to do them in unison) masterpiece that is "Dragon King." This is beyond a doubt my favorite Iron Savior tune, the way the backing vocal lines tie into the pre-chorus already gets the ball rolling, and the atypical (for the band) fantasy-inspired lyrics work shockingly well here.

And that brings me to what can be perceived as a shortcoming in the isolated instance of these later records. Those who are fond of the continuing science fiction storyline that Iron Savior has so tacitly employed over the years will probably be disappointed by the narrative of these last two albums. Most of these tunes follow rather standard genre tropes and I can certainly see this growing old for those lacking the mental credentials to mitigate excessive lyrical cheese. I guess I am not one of them, because this album is pretty much the best effort Iron Savior and any of their peers have done in quite some time. For a band cranking on cyclically to the point that diminishing returns should become expected fare, Iron Savior gladly throws an erm... iron monkey wrench into such preconceptions. Perfect? No. You already know why, and I am not going to bother mentioning that song, just skip it and act like it doesn't exist. Selective ignorance is arguably bliss, and a blissful listening experience awaits on Rise of the Hero.

A fun ride with little to no innovation - 82%

Gintoki, May 23rd, 2014

After 3 years Iron Savior have once again released a new album. And while it's quite a time, big changes are nowhere to be found. Ever since "Condition Red" the band has stuck to the same formula resulting in decent albums but with very little variation. Gone is the magic of the first three albums which had a mystic space-like aura surrounding them. While the beginning of this review sounds like a nostalgic view in to the past where no hope is left to save this album this isn't actually true. "Rise of the Hero" is probably the best Iron Savior album since the aforementioned "Condition Red", which isn't quite hard.

Strong points of this album include the epic "Last Hero", with a chorus so strong to bring manly tears out of everyone, the ultra-fast double-bass hymn "From Far Beyond Time" which sounds a bit like "Titans of our Time" while still sounding very fresh and keeping one pumped up, aswell as the preview song "Burning Heart".
"Iron Warrior" delivers on the heavier side, opening with riffs so razorsharp that they might cut your veins when you hear them the first time.

Unfortunately the second half of the album seems to be weaker than the first, a phenomena which is quite frequent in the music industry with all the slow paced songs being placed there. Not that slow songs are bad but they should have mixed them through the album to help with the variety.

The cover version of "Dance with Somebody" seems to be getting a lot of shit from the majority of the reviewers and while I think it's unfitting of a metal album I have to say that I still enjoyed it and would take it over the original version everytime.

One shouldn't expect something fresh when buying IS cds nowadays, but atleast one shouldn't also be disappointed as the band around Piet Sielck is always sailing in safe waters. This album is enjoyable for every power metal fan as it doesn't have the over the top clichee flowers while still preserving the melodic side of metal, though in a very riff oriented way.

Thunder From Germany - 75%

Larry6990, May 10th, 2014

Despite being a huge power metal fan for years and years - Iron Savior are a band who have somehow managed to avoid my metal radar. They're speedy, they're German, and their lyrics are all based on sci-fi stories. So why haven't I intentionally purchased their albums yet? Only God knows. However, with their latest release - the brilliantly titled "Rise of the Hero" - the temptation grew too much for me. Admittedly, that was mainly the fault of the cover art. I mean, look at that magnificence! Irresistable. Having no previous listening experience of this band - I approached this with a blank slate of a mind.

First impression? METAL.

This album embraces the classic metal attitude with open arms. The guitars are right at the forefront of the production, blazing away with riffs and solos aplenty. They have a peculiar tone, which at least gives "Rise of the Hero" an identity of its own, but riffs such as those found on "Thunder From The Mountains" and "Iron Warrior" will have you headbanging without restraint (my neck certainly aches a little anyhow!). The vocals are the next most prominent factor - Piet Sielck has great set of pipes, gruff but always tuneful; similar to Joakim from Sabaton. His voice blends perfectly with the occasional backing chorus from the other members. It is these moments of choir-like bombast where "Rise of the Hero" reaches its peak. The rhythm section is very solid indeed. Admittedly, the bass is quite inaudible - but Thomas Nack's performance behind the kit is both precise and energetic.

The intro track, "Ascendence", seems a little out of place. The celestial atmosphere it creates contrasts too much with the heroic heavy/power metal sound that succeeds it. But it can be forgotten as soon as opener "The Last Hero" bursts in with triumphant bravado. This is definitely one of the better structured and more well-executed tracks on the entire album. The chorus is unforgettable and it served as a perfect introduction to the band for me.

The rest of the album follows suit. "Rise of the Hero" ebbs and flows with solid consistency throughout. Thankfully, Iron Savior throw in enough variety regarding tempo and key, whilst remaining stylistically loyal. "From Far Beyond Time", "Thunder From The Mountain" and "Firestorm" are the up-tempo double-kick speedsters. "Burning Heart", "Iron Warrior" and "Dragon King" are the mid-tempo heavy metal stompers. And there's even a semi-ballad in the form of "The Demon", which is cleverly placed toward the album's end.

Okay, so it's not "Night at the Opera - Part II" - but it's solid, precise, consistent, and highly enjoyable. I will definitely delve into Iron Savior's back catalogue after being introduced via this beast. If you are new the to power metal genre, this could also serve as a fantastic gateway. Just be sure to skip the cover of "Dance With Somebody"; definitely a missed target there!

Highlights - "The Last Hero", "From Far Beyond Time", "Thunder From The Mountains", "Iron Warrior"

For fans of - Bloodbound, Majesty, Firewind

You Know How This Works - 80%

GuntherTheUndying, April 23rd, 2014

Try as I might to hate “Rise of the Hero,” I can’t; it’s exactly like “The Landing,” which is exactly like the other Iron Savior records. I really can’t stand bands that pigeonhole their sound into a routine of characteristics, but Iron Savior is one of few exceptions to the rule. We’ve heard these same goddamn riffs a million times over. The vocal patterns too. These melodies and chorus structures can be found on any Iron Savior release; the similarities, especially to “The Landing,” are obvious. Of course, what I refuse to mention is the overall power of the music, which is large and tremendous. Iron Savior can release a million albums that all sound the same so as long as they continue to reach this level of quality.

I don’t know, I guess Iron Savior is like a dog that can only do one trick, but that trick happens to be the ability to throw up titanic power metal covered in crispy riffs, bombastic choruses, and an authentic degree of raw sound quality. Bands like Blind Guardian and Gamma Ray have sort of evolved or shifted away from their roots, but Iron Savior? Try the ‘Hell No’ button. Iron Savior sticks to beastly riffs and choruses that have the impact of a bomb; they don’t have to accomplish much beyond that. It helps, of course, that “Rise of the Hero” contains some of the densest material one would except from Piet Sielck and company.

The album is stuffed to the brim with admirable songs. The mighty “Last Hero” and “Thunder from the Mountains” are branded with the typical Iron Savior trademarks: stellar riffs, explosive choruses. Not to imply a track like “Revenge of the Bride” or “Burning Heart” is excluded from the big boys’ club, as they are, and all are, really, enjoyable songs cut and cooked in the traditional Iron Savior fashion. The other merits of “Rise of the Hero” are expected but welcome: the sound quality is fantastic with a crispy guitar tone; the band’s performances are lively and intense as usual; and Piet Sielck’s vocals, which are outstanding as one might expect, confirm that he is, indeed, my spirit animal.

It’s hard not to enjoy “Rise of the Hero.” It’s not a perfect record—I could do without the plodding “Dragon King,” and I have no idea what Iron Savior tried to accomplish with the cover of Mando Diao’s “Dance with Somebody.” Other than a tune or two here, the fifty-five minutes of “Rise of the Hero” are Iron Savior playing the role of Iron Savior flawlessly, and little else can be asked for. They’ve established themselves as the Cannibal Corpse of power metal: their records are all the same hypothetically, yet they never accept a low level of quality or naturally plunge into inconsistent territory. Not a masterpiece, but a worthy continuation of the Iron Savior biography.

This review was written for: www.Thrashpit.com

Thunder from the Savior - 84%

Andromeda_Unchained, March 14th, 2014

Fuck yeah, new Iron Savior! Always a cause for rejoice, especially when it kills, and unsurprisingly it does. Whereas their last album brought them back from somewhat of a hiatus and pushed forward a more modern sound, here Iron Savior truly pick up where they left off in 2007 and give us an album that fits perfectly in line with their best work and could have comfortably followed Unification or Condition Red despite its glossier production values.

Rise Of The Hero see Piet and co. doing what they do best, dishing out the crunchy German power metal with riffs in spades and plenty of ace choruses. It really feels like they've settled back into their groove here and the guys are totally on top form. The production is absolutely class, with a great mix, killer guitar tone, pummeling rhythm section, and of course that godly lead guitar tone which ensure the solos and melodies soar high. Piet sounds great and energized too, proudly commanding the material despite some goofy lyrics as heard in the Kill Bill-inspired "Revenge Of The Bride", or the as expected heavy metal anthem "Fistraiser".

One thing which, upon reflection, kind of hurt The Landing were the slower songs, which weren't as great as they could have been. Here the Savior largely stick to tearing heads, and it really gives the album this kind of infectious energy – I'm struggling to remain seated writing. I'd say Iron Savior open with one of the strongest sets of songs they have to date here, although honestly they hardly let up throughout. The run from "Last Hero" to "Thunder From The Mountains" is bloody INSANE, and the latter number incorporates a slight bit of Savage Circus aggression to the Iron Savior sound, which works so well; I'd really like to see Piet and the gang expand on this next time around, as it is seriously badass.

There's a definite classic Iron Savior vibe at the heart of the album, with plenty of moments taking me back to specific albums, like "Dragon King" which serves up the fist-pumping Condition Red magic, or the lightning strike that is "From Far Beyond Time", which wouldn't sound out of place on Unification or even their debut. Fortunately I feel they avoid falling into mere rehash territory, and I'd certainly say there were a few elements here that upgrade the Savior machine. The aforementioned "Thunder From The Mountains" for one, shows there's still room for Iron Savior to bring a different dimension to their speedy up-tempo numbers, and I think that the considerable amount effort and work Piet put into Savage Circus has further expanded his songwriting repertoire. It adds a new aspect to the Iron Savior sound, and "The Demon" is good evidence of this, standing as a curiously put together number, with distinct sections, whether soft or frighteningly aggressive. I wouldn't classify the song amongst the strongest work on the album, but it certainly shows potential, and leaves me feeling positive about the band pushing forward their sound.

When it all comes together Rise Of The Hero comes off as a proud release that houses everything we love about Iron Savior as well as the odd surprise. I'm not massively hot on the cover track, "Dance With Somebody," but I will say it's well integrated with the rest of the material, and doesn't sound too out of place. Really, though, that's the only slight issue I have here, as the rest of the material is absolutely cracking. If you're at all a fan of German-style heavy/power metal or bands like Grave Digger, Paragon, and Stormwarrior then you need this one.

Written for http://www.metalcrypt.com

Nothing new here...and that's the beauty of it! - 90%

mjollnir, March 6th, 2014

Iron Savior have returned with their eighth full length album entitled Rise of the Hero. In my opinion, these guys are one of the most consistent bands in heavy metal. They have managed to put out good if not great albums with each release. Some have said that their last outing, The Landing, was a step back for the band but I truly found that album to be one of my favorites. On January 28, the band released a teaser video for the song "Burning Heart" and it really got me excited about the release of this album. Well let me say that it was very much worth the wait. Once again, Piet Sielck and company have proven that they can still release quality material after an impressive 18 year existence. Some might say that Iron Savior are a one trick pony and they may be right, but there is nothing wrong with that. Many bands are because they know a good formula and they stick with it. There is nothing new or innovative here...just 50+ minutes of straight up heavy metal done the Iron Savior way.

Now let me get this out of the way now...Iron Savior has actually recorded their first stinker ever. They recorded a cover of a song by the indie/pop rock band Mando Diao titled "Dance With Somebody." Why they did this I have no idea because the original blows and these guys really didn't make it any better. Okay, now that's out of the way on to the metal! There is a short intro that leads right into the first proper song on the album, "Last Hero." This song sets the mood for the entire album. Piet's vocals are in top form and the song has all the ingredients...great riffs, perfect melody in the verses, the typical catchy chorus, and classy soloing including some dual harmonized leads. Piet did the production on the album and of course it has a great sound without sounding too polished or overproduced.

The rest of the album is more of the same with songs like "Revenge of the Bride", "From Far Beyond Time", "Thunder from the Mountains", and "Firestorm" being your classic Iron Savior speedy metal songs done with class and just pure talent. Of course the choruses on these songs are catchy as ever and will have you singing along in no time. This band has always been able to write songs like these that don't don't sound tired or dated. Then you have mid paced rockers like "Burning Heart" that will have you headbanging the second it starts. I'm a fan of killer guitar soloing...especially in this genre and the guitar work on this album is perfect with the solos being well done without being overdone. There is some really good dual harmonized leads that are just godly.

The version I am reviewing has bonus re-recordings of two classic Iron Savior songs, "I've Been to Hell" from Dark Assault and "Mind Over Matter" from Unification. He started this on The Landing and I actually like the idea. These re-recordings are very well done with not too much deviation from the originals but instead giving this line up's take of these classic Iron Savior songs. This album (with the exception of the aforementioned cover) is another Iron Savior album that will be a classic. I am a huge fan of this band and this album has solidified my fanboyism even more. This album is essential!


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