AFM Records [Release date 04.12.20]
Installed like a figurehead at the prow of European heavy metal, Piet Sielck’s Iron Savior proudly trail the story of this classic musical movement behind them. You could argue that along with Kai Hansen, Sielck kick started the entire Power Metal genre when the duo left Helloween to form Iron Saviour, at the turn of the millenium.
When Hansen departed in 2000 to focus on his own band, Gamma Ray, Sielck ploughed on. Skycrest is his band’s twelfth album in a litle over 20 years, and his enduring skill as a songwriter/arranger/producer is never more evident than on the Wagner meets Maiden title track that opens the album proper (assuming that Wagner wrote operatic, rock’n'roll arias for growling German metalheads).
It’s useful to be reminded that that second guitarist, Joachim Kustner’s playing fits Sielck’s like a velvet glove. Their dazzling, twinned axework on ‘Welcome To The New World’ and ‘Silver Bullet’ is breathtaking. Similarly, the anthemic ‘End Of The Rainbow’, a blazing, streamlined slice of heavy metal, is ignited by the duo’s fiery, eminently melodic axework.
The lyrics across this new album reveal a more mature narrative, reflecting on an alienated world and personal demons. In his interpretation of these themes on ‘Souleater’ and ‘Ease Your Pain’, Sierck’s growl disguises some subtle phrasing that marks him out as a cut above the rest of the balls-to-the-wall competition. But you probably already knew that.
Elsewhere, the tribute ‘There Can Be Only One’ and the slower paced ‘Raise The Flag’ sound like Teutonic twists on stadium sized hard rock anthems. They are as if the band is celebrating the moment it found a unique voice in European Heavy Metal, and in doing so, a unique identity. ****
Review by Brian McGowan
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09:00-12:00 DANNY DANZI tribulations (Escape Music)
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