|Review: Iron Savior - The Landing|
Label: AFM Records
Year released: 2011
Genre: Power Metal
Review online: November 30, 2011
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Rated 4.2/5 (84%) (35 Votes)
Seventh album in Iron Savior's long history. Truth be told, I was thinking we'd probably seen the last of the Savior, what with Piet Sielck spending all his time with Savage Circus and showing no sign of wanting to return to his old band. So I was surprised to see this album, and I would be even more surprised if it were as good as their old ones, but alas. Piet seems to have spent way too much time in Savage Circus, and has produced a supposed Iron Savior album that instead sounds like some recycled Blind Guardian crap.
First, here is my theory of metal: metal must contain guitars with some kind of distortion, and those guitars must play actual riffs, as in music, as in something that sounds like music and would sound like music no matter what you played it on. Metal has to be about and led by guitars, not vocals, not fucking keyboards, GUITARS. Iron Savior used to be all about the guitars, big, tasty, powerful riffs that were so kinetic and hooky they almost ran away with the songs. Something has obviously happened to that songwriting ethic for this album to exist.
Now The Landing is not complete crap. It has some good songs and some good vocal hooks, even on dogs like "Heavy Metal Never Dies". "The Savior" is a decent song, and "Starlight" flashes some real riffs, despite having a pretty lame chorus. You do get some crap songs, like "R U Ready" and "Before The Pain" – songs that are not just dull, but embarrassing. But every Iron Savior album has some filler on it, it's practically tradition.
But the songwriting approach has fundamentally shifted from guitars to vocals and keys. There are unnecessary keys all the fuck over this album - or rather, they would not be necessary if the guitars were worth a shit. The guitar tone is smoothed-out and the instrument is firmly mixed in the background to subordinate them to the vocals. Now Piet's vocals are still excellent, and there is probably nobody in metal who knows how to record and arrange backing vocals better than he does, so the vocals sound good, even if they are a bit smooth and overly glossy - Piet has lost a lot of his old grit.
And the riffs are a sad, sad joke. Even songs like "Hall of the Heroes" that start with a good riff do not compare to old Savior songs. These songs waste the guitars by having them mostly serve as a rhythm and background instrument, just chugging along to keep tempo and make the songs sound more 'metal' or hitting a chord to add emphasis to a vocal que. Seriously, go back and listen to "Tales of the Bold", "Wings of Deliverance", or "Tyranny of Steel" side by side with any song of this album, and you will see what I mean. Old Savior songs were driven by guitars, guitars, guitars, while the new songs are all keys and vocals with the guitars as an afterthought.
In summary: a well-produced album with a professional gloss, but lacking in the guitar-driven energy of old albums and sadly dependent on vocal overdubs and pumped-up synths to carry the inferior songs. Not unlistenable, but easily the lamest album in Iron Savior's discography.
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