Iron Savior: Firestar

AFM Records 2023
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Label / Založba: AFM Records
Release date / Datum izida: 6. 10. 2023
Production / Produkcija: Piet Sielck
Running time / Dolžina albuma: 50.14 min.
Genre / Žanr: Power Metal
9.0/10


“Firestar” is the twelfth studio album in total by Hamburg-based power metal legends Iron Savior. The band released their eponymous debut studio album in 1997. When comes to debate about power metal purism you don’t need to look further. Iron Savior are one of those primal bands with all esencial trademarks of the Hamburg school of power metal (I assume you’ve already guessed about other two – Helloween and Gamma Ray). Even after their newest album “Firestar”, Iron Savior remain faithful to their ‘winning poker of aces’ power metal recipe. There is no let-up and the legendary quartet, headed by their main visionary, i.e. composer, lyricist, producer, guitarist and vocalist Piet Sielck, delivers yet another top-notch studio achievement.

Iron Savior remains a force with firm musical vision not to deviate from their proven recipe. This is also followed by “Firestar”, which succeeded its excellent predecessor “Skycrest” (2020, RockLine review) after just under three years. This is slightly longer time gap than we are used to with Iron Savior albums. However, it should be added that in last August the band released a second compilation of newly refreshed and re-recorded classics from their career, entitled “Reforged – Ironbound” (2022, RockLine review). This means that Iron Savior have been keeping studio shape. And it paid off not only during the recording of the compilation, when they revived the memories of some of the classics from the earlier part of their career, but also later when they returned to record a new studio album. And? The new album delievers everything that is expected from Iron Savior. Exceptional production in favour of building a massive wall of sound (cemented in high detonation of razor-sharp guitar riffs), brilliant soloing in the mid-eight passages, soulfull and passionate vocal delivery (once again) by Sielck, and carefully added ornamental harmonies played in diatonic thirds over the riffs (mostly played with very fast picking). The lead vocal is skilfully equipped with strains of thunderous vocal harmonies. Sielck’s sense of escalating moods and atmospheres is remarkable, and the pieces reach their theatrical mood crescendo in the choruses, with the pre-chorus often sandwiched between the verse and chorus, which intensifies this contrasting gradation. Not to forget the omnipresent and relentless double bass drum pedal stampede without which true power metal cannot be imagined.

On the new album the band once again provided a series of instantly infectious power-metal bangers, competing with each other in taking album’s spotlight. Especially the closing track Together As One (with cleverly added orchestrations) is extremely convincing composition in achieving high level of infectiousness. And the world of heavy metal will surely unite once more when it hear three blazing anthems: In The Realms Of Heavy Metal, the album’s title track, and the closing Together As One. The mid-tempo and mystical Across The Wasteland draws inspiration in its lyrics from Steven King’s “Dark Tower” series, while the four tracks on the new album (led by the bombastic Curse Of The Machinery), once again refer to the story of Atlantis and the mighty spacecraft that protects it.

“Firestar” is an excellent album without weak moment. With a remarkable sense of placing a high degree of musicality, and it is not difficult to draw parallels with the influences of the evergreen pop classics of the seventies and eighties, while riffs undeniably demonstrate the eternal inspiration taken from Judas Priest, “Firestar” is therefore a classic power metal album by Iron Savior. Despite being released in the band’s 27th year, it speaks with youthful urgency and at the same time with unquenchable passion. Nothing more, nothing less. Just another flawless punch from Sielck and his three comerades.

Tracklist:
1. The Titan
2. Curse of the Machinery
3. In the Realm of Heavy Metal
4. Demise of the Tyrant
5. Firestar
6. Through the Fires of Hell
7. Mask, Cloak and Sword
8. Across the Wastelands
9. Rising from Ashes
10. Nothing Is Forever
11. Together as One

Iron Savior line up:
Piet Sielck – vocals, guitar
Joachim “Piesel” Küstner – guitar
Jan S. Eckert – bass guitar
Patrick Klose – drums

Author: Ales Podbreznik


»Firestar« je skupno dvanajsti studijski album dolgoživih legend power metala iz Hamburga Iron Savior. Skupina je leta 1997 izdala istoimenski studijski prvenec in velja v oziru purizma za pravoverni sinonim prvinskosti, ko nanese debata o tipskih zaščitnih znamkah hamburške šole power metala. Tudi po najnovejšem albumu »Firestar«, ostajajo Iron Savior zvesti svoji powermetalski recepturi, ki ji prinaša vselej zmagoviti poker asov. Popuščanja ni in legendarni kvartet na čelu z glavnim vizionarjem, to je komponistom, piscem besedil, producentom, kitaristom in vokalistom Pietom Sielckom, dostavlja še en vrhunski studijski dosežek.

Iron Savior ostajajo konstanta, ki v kakovosti izdelkov ne niha. Zahvaljujoč čvrsti odločitvi, da od svoje preverjene recepture ne odstopajo. Temu sledi tudi »Firestar«, ki je nasledil izvrstnega predhodnika »Skycrest« (2020, RockLine recenzija) po slabih treh letih, kar je nekoliko daljši časovni razkorak, kot smo sicer vajeni pri Iron Savior albumih. Vendar je treba k temu dodati, da je skupina v lanskem avgustu izdala še drugo kompilacijo novo osveženih in posnetih klasik svoje kariere z naslovom »Reforged – Ironbound« (2022, RockLine recenzija). To pomeni, da so Iron Savior ves čas vzdrževali studijsko formo tudi v času snemanje kompilacije, ko so obudili spomin na nekatere klasike iz starejšega dela svoje kariere, to formo pa so navdahnjeno prelili tudi v čas snemanja albuma “Firestar”. In? Novi album nosi ponovno vse kar se od Iron Savior pričakuje. Izjemno produkcijo, ki favorizira gradnjo nasršenega zvočnega zidu nabrušenih in kot britev ostrih kitarskih fraz, briljantno soliranje v mid-eight pasažah, bravurozno vokalno eksekucijo izkušenega in zimzelenega Sielcka, pretanjeno kombiniranje okrasnih harmonij v tercah znotraj pasaž  – veliko je (za nemški power metal tipskega) trzanja preko fraz. Vodilni vokal je spretno in vestno opremljen z napevi gromovitih vokalnih harmonij. Filigranska finomehanika loščenja aranžmajev na slehernem koraku. Sielckov občutek za stopnjevanje vzdušij in razpoloženj je izjemen in skladbe v refrenih dosegajo svoj teatralni razpoloženjski krešendo, pri čemer je med kitico in refren največkrat vpet tudi predrefren, ki to kontrastno gradacijo izdatno intenzivira. Tu je še en tipski element tovrstnega sloga. Imenuje se neusmiljeni marš stampeda dvojne bas boben stopalke in debelo rožljave ježe bolščavih linij bas kitare, brez česar si pravega powermetalskega albuma okostenele hamburške šole ni mogoče predstavljati.

Tudi na novem albumu je skupina zagotovila serijo hipoma nalezljivih powermetalskih jurišnic, ki kar tekmujejo med seboj katera prevzela na albumu primat oziroma središče pozornosti. Sklepna Together As One (s spretno dodano ‘pričesko’ dodanih orkestracij) velja glede nalezljivosti za izjemno prepričljivo kompozicijo, ki te pripravi do tega, da na svojem CD predvajalniku obvezno pritisneš na ukaz ‘ponovi’. To je tudi (bil) njen (tihi) namen.  

Vrhunsko ustoličene bombastike in kreacije drama teatra s čimer je obtežen novi album, smo pri Iron Savior vajeni. Je pričakovan in visoko zahtevan element recepture aranžiranja skupine. Tu so tri tipične himne, ki ponovno združujejo privržence heavy metala v eno: In The Realms Of Heavy Metal, naslovna skladba albuma ter sklepna Together As One. Srednje hitra in mistična Across The Wasteland črpa v besedilih navdih iz Steven Kingove serije »Dark Tower«, medtem ko se štiri skladbe (na čelu z nabrušeno Curse Of The Machinery), v skladu z likom in delom preteklih izdelkov skupine, ponovno navezujejo na zgodbo o Atlantidi ter mogočnem vesoljskem plovilu, ki jo varuje.

Album »Firestar« je torej še en sijoči manifest zagrizene nepopustljivosti, srčnosti, predanosti in osredotočenosti skupine, ki na zrela leta ne izgublja kreativnega zagona in dinamita. V vsem odličen izdelek, ki ne nosi šibkega momenta. Ob izjemnem občutku za plasiranje zvrhane mere muzikalnosti, pri čemer ni težko potegniti vzporednic z vplivi zimzelenih klasik popa sedemdesetih in osemdesetih, ter frazami, ki neizpodbitno izkazujejo večno navdahnjenost nad likom Judas Priest, je »Firestar« torej klasičen power metalski album zasedbe Iron Savior. Ne glede na to da je izšel v 27. letu delovanja skupine, nagovarja z mladostniško ihto in obenem silovito. Kot, da se znova piše leto 1996, to je leto ustanovitve Iron Savior.

Avtor: Aleš Podbrežnik


Iron Savior – “Firestar” (AFM Records, 2023)
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