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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.