Friday 8 March 2019

Iron Savior - Kill or Get Killed (2019)

Country: Germany
Style: Heavy Power Metal
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 8 Mar 2019
Sites: Facebook | Metal Archives | Official Website | Wikipedia

A couple of readers have asked for more power metal here at Apocalypse Later and I hope this, following The Three Tremors and Avantasia, will do the trick for now. When I think power metal, I think Germany and Iron Savior are one of the more prolific bands over there nowadays.

This makes a dozen albums for them (if we include Megatropolis 2.0) and their heritage goes back to that man Kai Hansen, who was everywhere for a while. A number of the songs they wrote when they were named Second Hell made it into the early Helloween repertoire and saw release on the first EP and Walls of Jericho. They became Iron Savior in 1996 with Hansen on guitar for their first five years and, having lost some of the speed they had at the beginning (but not all of it), they're quintessential power metal.

Piet Sielck, one of the power trio back then, is still working vocal duty and playing guitar. Jan-Sören Eckert joined in 1998 and has contributed to every album except the first. More recent additions are Joachim Küstner on guitar and new fish Patrick Klose on drums. Even though the latter has only been with the band since 2017, they sound like they've been playing together forever.

This is accomplished stuff, but musicianship aside, the question that always comes into play with power metal is whether it's memorable enough to rise and be seen above all the other albums by all the other bands out there, most of which are also populated by very capable musicians.

My answer right now is that I'm not entirely sure. What I'll say is that it's certainly a very good album but I'm enough out of touch with the competition at the moment that I'm not sure how high the bar they need to reach has been raised of late.

There's plenty of good news. The album kicks off in excellent fashion with the title track, which has all the bombast and blister that you might expect from the genre (along with a bit of narration in the middle that's shot with a good deal of humour on the official video). It also finishes just as capably with Legends of Glory, perhaps my favourite song on the album, not only because of that old school chug.

In between are another eight tracks, all but one being of consistent length and style, each of them filling its four to five minutes with driving drums, melodic guitar runs and smooth, emotional vocals with catchy hooks. That one exception is Until We Meet Again, which at almost eight minutes has a couple of minutes on everything else here, but those couple of minutes don't really add much. It starts out softer and there's a progressive section in there but it doesn't work as a longer, epic version of everything else.

If there's a problem with the album, it's that consistency, as these tracks start to blur together somewhat, especially around the middle where the most memorable tracks can be found. To suggest which one of them is the catchiest would warrant some sort of battle royale between From Dust and Rubble, Sinner or Saint and Heroes Ascending. All of them have solid shots at that title!

While they're all highlights, the tracks in and amongst them suffer a little for being similar but lesser versions of the same sort of thing. I've taken a couple of runs through this album and the tracks do distinguish a little on a second listen but, while plenty stand out, a few fade away.

I like Kill or Get Killed and I especially appreciate its quality given that it's the band's fifth album in six years. Kudos to Iron Savior both for doing an impressive job and for doing it so often.

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