Reviewed: December, 2020
Released: December 4, 2020 AFM Records
Reviewer: The Elitist Metalhead
Next year will be a Iron Savior’s silver anniversary and in that twenty five years, they have failed to release a bad album. I’d even go as far as to say they have not even released a “meh” album. I’ve mentioned a bunch of times that you can put their entire catalog on shuffle and let it go. There will be hours of quality metal to grace your ears. Founder, guitarist, vocalist, composer, producer, and engineer Piet Sielck made a name for himself in the nineties as the producer and engineer of the German power metal scene. I remember the first time I heard Iron Savior was a video clip from their 1999 EP, INTERLUDE. I remember seeing Kai Hansen on the stage with a guitarist/front man I had never seen or heard before. Once I saw the name Piet Sielck, I immediately recognized the name from liner notes of albums as noteworthy as IMAGINATIONS FROM THE OTHER SIDE and HEADING FOR TOMORROW. I was immediately a fan and was on a quest to acquire all things Iron Savior.
To my luck, there was only two albums to catch up on at that time; but one thing was apparently clear, Piet Sielck was not only an accomplished producer and engineer, he was a great songwriter. After digging deeper, I discovered that his roots with Kai Hansen extend back a long time, to pre Helloween band called Gentry. It was during that time that some of the early Helloween songs like “Gorgar,” “Muderer,” and “Victim of Fate,” were formed. Fast forward to 1996, Piet, with the help of Kai and Thomen “The Omen” Stauch, decided to step out from behind the scenes and Iron Savior was born. The early albums were a concept involving Atlanteans and a giant AI Spaceship sent to the future to save humankind. Although Thomen and eventually Kai would leave the fold over the years and the albums may not be complete concept albums involving the Iron Savior, the story continues on certain songs from time to time.
So in 2020, with everything going on in the world with political upheaval and a pandemic that caused the entertainment industry to seriously look at their business model, tragedy hit home as bassist and long time member Jan-Sören Eckert was diagnosed with cancer. Thankfully he was treated quickly and not only was he on the mend, the band decided to turn all of this negative energy into a positive creative force to create their tenth full length collection of heavy metal anthems, SKYCREST. The two singles released, “Our Time Has Come” and “Souleater” gave us a taste of what was to come. Both songs were huge and it was apparent that Iron Savior had created something special. All the ingredients for a killer metal album seemed to be there. It was when I heard the whole album that I realized that this album is huge and could be the best album Mr. Sielck and company have released in a long time.
All Iron Savior albums have that signature Piet Sielck sound when it comes to production, especially that crunch of the guitars. SKYCREST is no different. After a brief intro, “The Guardian,” we jump right into the title track and you know that Iron Savior mean business this time around. Galloping into your ears with it’s huge choruses, infectious melodies, riffs, and godly solos you can’t help but throw the horns. It is these high energy songs that Iron Savior are known for and this album has no shortage of them. Piet has stated that he believes this album can stand up there with the debut, THE LANDING, and CONDITION RED and if this song is any indication then he may be spot on. This is how you open a metal album! The first single released, “Our Time Has Come” follows it and for some reason rocks a little harder just because of it’s place on the album. Following that powerful opener and this melodic anthem is just the song. Funny how hearing a song alone and then with the songs around it and that could actually change your perspective of that song. Yeah, it’s a great single but place it anywhere else on the album and it may not have worked.
Another thing about this album is the overall theme. With everything going on in the world and with the band personally, Iron Savior decide to address the issues; not with doom and gloom but as we see on “Welcome to the New World,” that we need to be cautious or the “new world” will not be so pretty. Then you have “Raise The Flag” which is the metal anthem for these times. The only flag that has always been true is the flag of heavy metal. This song sounds like a modern Accept song in a lot ways. I could hear Mark Tornillo singing that verse, for sure. Then you have the huge songs like “Hellbreaker.” This song is mid paced with cool riffs and a huge melodic chorus where Piet uses those choirs to take those choruses to the next level. There’s also a faint use of keyboards that adds more melody. Before the chorus it sounds like we have a galactic battle before a shredding solo before going back to that huge chorus. If speed is what your after, try “Silver Bullet” on for size. Another song with the signature huge layered chorus that Iron Savior are known for, this song borders on the epic being over the six minute mark. This song just slays from beginning to end.
I always get excited about an Iron Savior release because I know it’s going to be special. I listen to Iron Savior at least once a day. Their signature sound is always welcome with me because I know I’m getting quality metal. The riffs, the melodies, the choruses, and those godly solos. Those are the things that have always made Iron Savior such a special band. It is apparent that this is a very personal album for the band. We even see Mr. Eckert perform a seriously personal ballad on this release, “Ease Your Pain.” Sometimes, it’s times like these that bring these creative juices to the surface because Piet and company had a lot to say this time around….and I’m liking what they had to say.