Iron Savior has long been one of those bands that just misses on their albums. Since they debuted in 1997, they've had a bunch of releases, and each release had a few really good songs, but overall, they just never put together a solid album from start to finish. They've also suffered from being a bit to "European" in style...at least for me. Just too much of the sweeping choruses for my taste.
Apparently, they've felt my pain, and came back with arguably the best "Judas Priest-styled" pure metal album of the year. BATTERING RAM, while still very european in style, is a fast, furious record complete with excellent vocals, ripping guitars and just an overall fast paced effort. This is old-school metal, plain and simple.
Easily, the best part of this band is the guitar work of Piesel Kustner. This guy is amazing - straight out of the Gus G. school of power chords and galloping metal lines. Songs like the blasting "Starchaser" showcase just how good this guy is at playing guitar. His playing not only stands above the rest of the band on this song, but brilliantly accompanies them throughout the bridges and choruses, before simply unleashing his thrashing best. He is countered nicely by the playing of Piet Sielek on guitar. The two may not be a KK/Tipton-like duo, but they play well together. Speaking of Sielek, this guy has an amazing voice for metal which shines brightly on BATTERING RAM. He's got a very clean vocal, but with enough of a snarl to keep it out of the operatic range and into a full-on metal blast. Songs like the stinging title track and "Tyranny Of Steel" really showcase this guys vocal ability. In fact, the entire band shines as brightly as they ever have on record.
If there is a drawback to this album, it's that it's just a bit too steeped in the cliches of old-school metal. Just look at the titles - "Wings Of Deliverance", "Stand Against The King", "Starchaser", "Battering Ram". Throw in a hammer, nail, blood and dragon and you've got a Dio album from 1982, not a power metal band from 2004. But I guess if that's the best I can do to find a drawback, I shouldn't complain too loudly.
PITRIFF RATING - 9/10 - In actuality, my rating would be 8.5 out of 10, but we don't do half numbers here, so I'll round up. Cool album, excellent production, great musical integrity from a band who's taken almost a decade to grow into being a great band. If BATTERING RAM is an indication, the maturation process is over.