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Fun - 88%

The_Ghoul, January 26th, 2009

If it weren't for their immortal debut, Unification would have to be Iron Savior's best album. It showcases a perfect flowering of the blend between Kai Hansen's more power metally Helloween (duh) and Iron Maiden influenced songwriting, Piet Sielck's more thrashy/speed metal attack reminiscent of Painkiller and olskool Blind Guardian, Piet's unique and recognizable phrasing and vocal overdubs, and of course Andreas Kuck's keyboard talents. As well, the production job here is A+, as the guitars have a really metallic flare to them, which goes nicely with Jan-Soren Eckhart's meaty bass. However, I can't mention this without mentioning also Dan Zimmerman. One of my favorite drummers, he drums with such power and consistency that you can really feel his presence on everything he does. His kick drum is monstrous and his snare and tom work are breathtaking at the very least.

But notice I mentioned that the eponymous debut was better. I can't help but feel like a Lincoln aficionado when Lincoln updated the Continental luxury car in 1958. What they essentially did was replace a high-cost, very elite, and very special luxury coupe with a bloated, noticably uglier, trendier, cheaper, but ultimately way less special typical american barge. How that compares to Iron Savior is that one thing I liked about the debut was the subtlety in the way many lines were phrased. Sure, Iron Savior are credited largely for inventing the massively overdubbed chorii, but on their debut they kept it under control, i.e. they knew when to use them, and when not to. Here, on Unification, the mentality is of that when Lincoln redid the Continental: go full blast on everything. Add harmonies left and right, double bass the fuck out of the listener, make every chorus extremely catchy and make every riff drip with cheese and good ol' fashioned power metal cheer and speed metal, well, speed. That being said, the most of the songs on the debut were written in the 1980-1983 range, so the feel was notably different.

Still though, Unification is fun to listen to. It is much less special and much less classic than the original, but it does get the heads moving. My favorites have to be Prisoner of the Void and Mind Over Matter, but all the songs here are great, and capture that cosmic feeling perfectly. One complaint I do have, about all the songs, but namely 3 that I can name off the top of my head (Starborn, Deadly Sleep, and Brothers) have a disturbing plagiarism feel to them. While Kai Hansen has always been one to wear his influences on his sleeves, it's rather inappropriate at times and ruins what could've been a world beating record. As I said, it's a less special, less classic, and ultimately lower quality album than when compared to the debut, but it's a great album to rock out to, and the story is pretty easy to follow along to as well, which is a plus.

Great, But Not Iron Savior's Pinnacle - 85%

BotD, June 14th, 2007

Originally I hailed this as Iron Savior's best album, but even when I wrote that I had to admit that I liked the first album better. Whether it's because I first encountered Iron Savior through their debut or because the first is catchier or something else entirely, the rest of the Iron Savior catalogue (even this album) never has me singing along to every song or immersing myself completely in the music. However, part of me objectively quantifies this album as their "best" despite my love of the self titled album.

I think everyone nailed the basic character of this album; an absolutely astounding first 11 tracks followed by what is a uniformly terrible ending. I truly wonder why so many bands insist on marring what could be a perfect or near perfect album by including noticeably sub par material. Iron Savior could have dropped the end of the album and still had a very respectable running length. At least they did the listener a favor by shoving all the refuse to the back end. The rest of this review only covers the first 11 songs

Unification shows Kai Hansen’s hand most emphatically of any Iron Savior album. The opener could have opened any Gamma Ray album and “Deadly Sleep” with Hansen on vocals ably displays his reverence of Iron Maiden. Every track carries some of the buoyancy that Hansen brings to of all his projects, a vibrancy missing from Iron Savior after he left.

Yet, this is undeniably an Iron Savior album, because you will headbang endlessly, something I can’t say for most Gamma Ray albums. This is Iron Savior’s finest moment where they perfect the formula they will repeat for all of their future albums—much to their detriment. Unlike the rest of Iron Savior’s catalogue, despite strong similarities each song distinguishes itself because every song is of superlative quality.

Not much else to say other than if you wish to crack into Iron Savior, this album represents, perhaps, the best entry point.

Unifillercation - 70%

L_H, September 20th, 2006

So here we have Iron Savior coming as close as they ever would to reaching perfection. This album features easily their best tracks - the most memorable, the most catchy, the most well-written, the most varied, the culmination of Priest-worship Power Metal, combining very heavy and constantly eminent speed metal riffage with a fair shair of harmonies, well-conceived solos, insanely catchy chorusses, one of the most ballsy and, powerful and downright Metal vocal deliveries ever, and just the right amount of atmospheric touches.

That is, for the first four and the last two songs.

This album showcases, basically, a band that has written all the material to release a grade-A Power Metal EP, but insists on making an album out of it instead. So, they decide to pull a few bonus tracks out of the hat. And hey, you know, Neon Knights kicks ass and so does the cover, and hell, Gorgar may have been the most stupid and least interesting song on Walls of Jericho but still is pretty good, and why not grant some unknown decent-but-forgettable band a song on your well-distributed and -selling album? But dammit, this won't cut it, now one third of the album consists of bonus material. So, why not take the fourth song, and make something similar to it again. And again. And again. And yes, then, AGAIN.

The thing is, on it's own, none of these songs really overtly yells "Look at me, I suck!". There's usually that little harmony here, this catchy chorus or that nice atmospheric bridge there, that manages to keep each of them slightly above average, regarded individually. The thing is, by the time you're past "Brothers", the strikingly similar structure and pace of the songs gets really old and quite frankly boring. The fact that this barrage of fillers is followed by the one song on the album that does suck doesn't help much either. "The Battle" is a poor attempt at completely forsaking speed and instead going for a slow atmospheric song a la, say, Metal Church's "Gods of Second Chance", but fails utterly by virtue of completely generic, forgettable riffing, lack of any sort of hook during the verses and an insanely boring chorus. The fact that this snoozefest is supposed to portray the grand battle between the forces of mankind and their new-found formerly-Atlantan allies against the seemingly undefeatable Iron Savior makes it all the worse. Where's the aggression? Where's the power? Where's the heaviness? It's possible to put it all into a slow, menacing and atmospheric crusher (again, "Gods of Second Chance" is a perfect example), but this one fails on every level.

A true pity, because as you would have guessed from the introduction, when Iron Savior get it right, they really mean business. Each of the first four and last two songs (of the band's own material, excluding the bonus tracks) manages to be great in its own right. They are packed with an amount of and variety in riffs that is not the norm for Power Metal - in fact, there is always riffage underneath. Never does the band rely on the vocals alone to carry the song forward, but rather, the drive behind the vocals lines perfectly compliments the drive delivered by the guitars (Iron Savior would get a lot of problems in this department on their later releases, sadly). There's also constantly new harmonies thrown in out of nowhere, and the leads are just as great as you'd expect from the Hansen/Sielck duo. The drumming manages to be varied and driving whilst also accentuating the musing in just the right places rather than battering the listener senseless with constant double-bass, and the bass is actually quite audible and neither simple nor too close to the guitars.

The variety between the non-filler stuff and the order also manages to be perfect. "Coming Home" starts the album off in an atmopsheric rather than speedy fashion, "Starborn" is the obligatory uber-catchy, uber-riffy speed metal onslaught, "Deadly Sleep" the token Kai Hansen-styled melodic Speed-Power number (and also one of Kai Hansen's obligatory obvious tributes to his idols, musically and lyrically - this time, it's Iron Maiden/Bruce Dickinson he's alluding to). "Forces of Rage" is a slightly-above-mid-paced crusher, "Unchained" manages to epitomize the album as a whole with its fluent combination of ballad, mid-paced heavy and speedy melodic sections, and "Forevermore" is one of Kai Hansen's best ballads, actually managing to be a glorious, soft and slow sing-along, a worthy finish to the album.

This album definitely has more than a few moments and could have been one of the finest examples of contemporary Power Metal if only there would have been less of it. As it stands, there's just way too many way too similar fillers in one straight row. Iron Savior could certainly put out an amazing album if they really gave 100% songwriting effort for 100% of the time, but sadly, this is the closest they ever came, and judging by their past releases, the closest they ever will come. Certainly recommended for fans of the genre, but be prepared to cut down on the filler manually.

I Stand Corrected - 93%

MetalMinion, April 16th, 2006

I originally stated that Dark Assualt was my favorite Savior album and then I went back listen to this one a bit and realised I was wrong. This is Iron Savior finest moment to date but Dark isn't far behind. For you people that haven't heard this band your in for a real treat because Iron Savior are one of the best bands in metal today. Lke to describe Savior's sound is very much in the vein of Painkiller era Priest.

Most fans would agree and I personally see nothing wrong with it. Don't rip off Priest perse but they make that style their own. It really works and I would dare to say it ever better than most bands that do the same style of speed metal. Amazing solo's and aggressive riffing is what you'll find on Unifacation.
The album has many great tracks but the sons tend slow down a bit at the end of the record.

But nothing to worry about but anyways my favorite song "Coming Home" which is the opener and also which is kinda a intro song but a damn good one. Piet is a great vocals and his siniging here is just amazing. The chorus is catchy and catchy is means you know how to write interesting music, which is always a plus.

"Starborn" is a nice follow up song similar Savior sound and make excellent song to play to someone who's never heard Iron Savior. I love riffing through this album and this song is got great guitar work. I would also like to mention the cover song of "Neonknights" this is how to cover a classic. It's a little faster, more tempo and Piet makes it his own. Very well done indeed.

I personally like all the songs here not really a bad moment even for the slower ones. This band also great for cruisin music I always enjoy popping this cd in and going out on the road, I don't maybe it's just me. So if you need some good crusin speed metal pick this up. This would be well suited for fans of Gamma Ray, Running Wild, Paragon, and Judas Priest. One best speed metal albums I own, highly recommended.

Great variety of thrashy Power Metal - 92%

OSheaman, July 14th, 2003

In the continuing adventures of Kai Hansen, we now turn to Iron Savior, a Power Metal band from Germany with a very thrashy core.

This band has got it going on. The riffs are pure and original, the voices are soaring and strong, the keyboards are tastefully done, and the bass is a real presence in the album, though it always complements the other instruments and never overshadows the main melody. The drums can be a little bit overwhelming at times, but in general they are quite solid and steady.

Coming Home has a beat and riff set that are very reminiscent of Gamma Ray's stuff, but the vocals are stronger than Kai Hansen's usually solo endeavors in Gamma Ray. Starborn has a very catchy chorus, while Deadly Sleep will leave you too busy headbanging to sing, although Kai Hansen's signature vocal style can be heard loud and clear here. Brothers of the Past has a guitar solo around the 3 minute mark that is nothing short of extraordinary . . . like a kind of thrashed up Yngwie Malmsteen.

There's lots of good stuff here, and nothing really sticks out as crappy. Prisoner of the Void sounds like the love child of Gamma Ray and Iron Maiden, which is not really a bad thing, but there's not a lot of original sound in it. The last few songs are kind of weak, although that last song, Dragonslayer, is not too shabby.

This is more amazing Iron Savior here. I liked Condition Red a little better than this, but there's still a lot of good stuff on here that's worth the purchase.

Nice fucking speed metal - 90%

UltraBoris, November 27th, 2002

This is Iron Savior's finest moment, by far - they totally got their shit together, and Kai Hansen put out some of his greatest work.

The album starts with a bit of an intro, Coming Home, before launching into Starborn - this is total Gamma Ray styled speed metal. If you've heard Powerplant, you know the drill. The guitar tone is a bit more vicious sounding, though, and generally very unique - some great riff work, very very heavy, and of course Kai's awesome leads... can't miss. Deadly Sleep is more of the same, as is Forces of Rage. Some nice choruses to be found here - you'll be singing along with this one in no time. It's Powerplant meets Painkiller up to this point. Captain's Log is another interlude, there tend to be a few in here... then Brothers of the Past is very cool, and then we have Eye to Eye, probably the greatest song on here.

Mind over Matter and Prisoner of the Void are quite nice too, so is The Battle. This album just does not let up at all for the first few songs. Unchained is the last heavy song, and by this time you're probably dead from headbanging. Then the rest of the album is a bit of a mishmash, it could've been completely omitted with no real loss. Forevermore is a ballad, and Gorgar '98 is a Helloween cover (well, sort of a cover, since it's a Hansen work!), and not as good as the original. Neon Knights is done competently as well.

The last track is by the band Excelsis, and is decent but unspectacular - they won some kind of contest and got to be on an Iron Savior album. Weird, but okay.

Anyway, just forget that the last 4 songs really exist (I won't take any points off for them - I just turn the CD off early and get my fill anyway), and what you are left with is 52 minutes of total Painkiller worship, with a heavy dose of Gamma Ray and that insane guitar work too... very highly recommended.