One of the most divisive genres, Power Metal really provokes heated debate and sides drawn. With origins as far back as Rainbow’s early albums, it’s a style of Metal that has stayed the course for well over five decades in some shape or form.
Iron Savior – Firestar (AFM Records)
Release Date: 6 October 2023
Words: Paul Hutchings
For me, it’s music that brings a huge smile to my face, draws admiration about the quality of the musicianship, and takes me back to those early Speed Metal days of Helloween, Gamma Ray and Running Wild.
If you’ve noted those three bands, you’ll find that they all hail from Germany. If ever a country had a representative style, then the Germans would be flying the Power Metal flag for sure. The list of bands who still bring their big, bombastic sound is endless, but the titans of the genre remain Helloween and Blind Guardian, who have most recently put out some of their best all-time work.
So, we turn to another of those behemoths of the German scene, the mighty Iron Savior. They may not get mentioned in the same hushed reverence as their big brothers, but Iron Savior are also veterans of the scene.
With Kai Hansen at the helm for their first five years, there is a certain pedigree that is only sometimes around for some bands. Now well towards almost 30 years together, the band who formed in 1996 have a discography to rival most. Firestar is album number 14 for the band from Hamburg, and it’s scintillating from start to finish.
For me, Power Metal is always the sum of the parts, and Iron Savior are a fantastic example of my theory. Vocalist Piet Sielck, a multi-instrumentalist and producer, possesses a voice that rivals Hansi Kürsch. Rich tones combined with enunciation that many native English speakers can only dream about and backed by the classic multiple harmonies throughout the songs, this is uplifting, soaring stuff.
Alongside the singing and guitar work of Sielck, Iron Savior is one tight unit. Drummer Patrick Klose has been with the band since 2017, but his artillery-style battery that powers each song is so comfortably ensconced within the band’s sound that you would be forgiven for thinking he had been with the band for at least twice as long. Klose locks in tight with Jan-Soren Ecker on bass (and vocals), whilst the guitar work of Joachim “Piesel” Küstner is simply phenomenal.
Over 50 minutes, Firestar is one huge treat. The intro, The Titan whets the appetite, despite the slightly twee opening. You just know that once the folk-style start is concluded, Iron Savior are going to come out of the blocks with all guns blazing.
And they do just that, Curse Of The Machinery pushing the pedal to the floor as the band accelerates with a franticness that few can match. It’s a blistering opening, with the band’s ability to carve anthemic stories from their music massively impressive.
As you journey through the 11 songs, the band weaves tales of sorcery, mystery, and magic in the most bombastic, over-the-top manner. Mask, Cloak, and Sword is a fantastical Metal journey, with some of the best playing I’ve heard all year, whilst we get the soaring fist in the air drive of In The Realm Of Heavy Metal.
The title track is as relentless as those that precede it. In fact, there isn’t a track on here that is anything other than a constant aural assault. Rising From The Ashes allows Sielck to paint his mystical pictures through his descriptive lyrics. There’s no let up until you get to the majestic finale of Together As One, another fine, expansive track which brings Firestar to a close in magnificent style.
There’s so much to unpack in this album that it’s almost pointless for me to write more. My best option can only be to recommend you get a copy on order or pre-save on your usual sites, for there will not be a finer Power Metal release in 2023.