Good old reliable Iron Savior. Steadily releasing new music and with every album you know what you’re going to get. Fist pumping, sci-fi power metal is what. And here the Germans are again with their twelfth full length Skycrest, coming just eighteen months after the previous effort Kill or get Killed (2019). That last album was a fairly anonymous addition to the band’s discography, but momentum seems to be back for Skycrest, which shows some growth to the band’s signature style and an even bigger turn for the melodic; though they’ve always had it in them they have with age veered slightly toward a more melodic sound, but without sacrificing weight or crunch to the meaty riffage, and this album continues that stretch as it opens up on a token intro and then straight into the fist pumping fray of the title song; big vocal lines, massive choruses and thick, melodic riffing blending with the signature speed metal origins.
So while there are some goodies to find in this mixed bag of, well… goodies, there are a few filler songs to pad the runtime as well, and the track list could do with a changeup. When End of the Rainbow fades out on that sweet, rollicking solo that would be the natural end of the album, but for whatever reason they’ve tossed in a pretty useless token ballad in Ease Your Pain to drag the album on. Admittedly closer Ode to the Brave is one of the heftier numbers on the album, with one of the most memorable choruses on the album and a speedy romp through fleshy riffage and soloing galore. Toss in fleshy Silver Bullet for a deeper, darker atmosphere and Welcome to the New World with its hyper catchiness and you get a more versatile Iron Savior album than in a long time, though of course at times it manages to fall into the “tried and true” pitfalls, leaning too heavy on the old formula to carry them through; Raise the Flag is utterly bland in its praise of heavy metal a couple songs like Hellbreaker and There Can be Only One drag on in a slow plod.
Skycrest presents a step up from the previous album, which was pretty much business as usual with few actual highlights. Sure, it might be business as usual this time too, but it sounds heaps more fun, the melodic flair and fun soloing blasting in full force from the moment the title track blasts off. It’s one of Iron Savior’s most fun and best albums since 2011’s The Landing, while still being ostensibly pretty much the same as every album they’ve made since about the same time as well. They’re not reinventing the wheel here - or even themselves for that matter - but they’re obviously having heaps of fun doing what they do, and every other album seems to toss that little special something into the mix. If you didn’t like the last album, you’re probably not going to like this one either, but if one is into the traditional Iron Savior formula, Skycrest will be a decent, if not great, album to meet that quirk, with a melodic twang to deviate ever so slightly from the speed metal formula. Good old reliable Iron Savior.
Standout tracks: Skycrest, Silver Bullet, Ode to the Brave