Iron Savior are the cult favourite German Power Metal band named after a sentient spacecraft that initially spawned as a collaboration between Kai Hansen of Gamma Ray fame and former Gamma Ray producer Piet Sielck. Their third studio album, Dark Assault, was released on Noise Records in 2001 and was their final album with Kai in the band before they forged more of their own unique identity and step out of Gamma Ray’s shadow.
Of their three Kai-era albums, Dark Assault is in my opinion the finest and most accomplished, and has some of the most memorable material and definitely the best production job. I’d also argue it has the least filler and works the best as a single journey all the way through. The style of music on here is very much in the Melodic European Power Metal theme, but without as many tinges of neoclassical or folk or progressive or indeed symphonic influences as some of their peers. It has more of the sort of biker feel as say, the first two Running Wild records (before they went Pirate themed) rather than Symphony Of Enchanted Lands or something. The track ‘Solar Wings’ has Kai on lead vocals instead of Piet, which makes it feel a little bit like Gamma Ray (but in general the band sound distinct by the very different vocals when Piet sings and the Andreas Kück keyboards. Its also got less Queen influence and less Thrash influence. Its a bit more of a simple pounding NWOBHM influence).
Highlights include the very catchy ‘Never Say Die’ and the bad ass ‘Predators’ as the mid-paced ‘Made Of Metal.’ There’s also a neat Judas Priest cover at the end, which suits the style of the album very well.
When you consider their lower pitched vocal style, Sci-Fi themes, and less over-the-top style than some bands in the genre, Iron Savior may be a lot more palatable to new-comers of Power Metal than say a Rhapsody or Freedom Call and sit in that same sort of bold, pure Judas Priest meets Accept metal that Primal Fear deal in. If you are into Saxon and Priest and bands like that, but are slightly afraid of Power Metal’s reputation, this album would be a great dip-your-toe-in-the-water album. It also goes without saying that I’d recommend it to fans of Gamma Ray (as long as you understand that they aren’t just a carbon copy).