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Saturday, 23 February 2019

Reviews: Iron Savior, Syrence, Sydney Fate, Rock Goddess (Paul H)

Iron Savior: Kill Or Get Killed (AFM Records)

I’m sitting in the living room with the track Roaring Thunder blasting out of the stereo. Mrs H walks past. “That’s cheesy,” she commented. “Are they German?” And that, my friends, is how the tuned ear of a woman who can spot German power metal at 100 paces responds to album number ten from Hamburg’s power metal legends Iron Savior. Founded back in 1996 by Piet Sielck, the band has delivered consistently good power metal ever since. Kill Or Get Killed is a concept album inspired by the novel Pandora’s Star, a sci-fi story about the destruction of humanity by an alien civilization written by Peter F Hamilton. 

It follows the traditional pattern, with the duel guitars of Sielck and Joachim “Piesel” Küstner intertwining to impressive effect, the combined backing vocals typical fare for the soaring choruses. However, I can’t forgive the band for stealing the opening lines of Saxon’s Never Surrender on From Dust And Rubble so blatantly. -1 point. Characteristic hooks litter this album, harmonised choirs on each track and underneath it all Jan S. Eckert (bass) and Patrick Klose (drums) delivering a very tight rhythm section. Stand Up And Fight is almost Grand Magus in its delivery whilst it’s all pretty good stuff if you like this genre; perfectly delivered and well written and Sielck has the voice to carry this as well. Another German band who stick to their guns; they know what they like, and this is it. Better than many power metal outfits around today. 7/10

Syrence: Freedom In Fire (Fastball Records)

I’ve always admired the German approach to heavy metal. Thousands of bands, numerous styles and some classic outfits who are world class in quality and status. Think Kreator, Sodom, Helloween, Primal Fear, Accept, Blind Guardian and Rammstein. It starts to become an impressive list. Scratch below the surface and what the German metal fans really love is the classic heavy metal style of Priest, Saxon, Iced Earth and so on. Syrence spent their first few years as Epic Fail before changing their name in 2011. The band deliver heavy metal in the classic style, albeit without as much ‘classic’ as some bands. 

The title track opens the album in fine style, a raw NWOBHM style track which rampages all over. It drops a bit by the time Fozzy’s Song (an ode to Chris Jericho?) arrives, a more routine metal by numbers style. The inevitable ballad arrives on track six, Symphony, which really isn’t that impressive. There are several very average tracks on this debut release, and whilst it is solidly played the album slowly drops away. Evil Force is a plodding affair, an awful chorus reminiscent of the limp music Accept put out around the Metal Heart era whilst Kings Of Speed unfortunately isn’t a Hawkwind cover but another straight down the line heavy rock song. I admire the band’s determination; a debut album 11 years in the making shouldn’t be too knocked hard. It’s just all a bit run of the mill. 5/10

Sydney Fate: Sound Alive (Self Released)

South Wales metalcore outfit Sydney Fate are relatively new on the scene but popped out this neat little five track EP at the tail end of 2018. Most of the detail about the band can be found in their recent Metal To The Masses interview so check out the detail there. The acoustic intro of Violet Sky segues into the thumping opener Sweet Anticipation, a blistering track with the contrasting vocals styles of Bailey Edwards and Adam Rapado, who brings the Elmo to Cookie Monster delivery with full force. A calmer, more balanced track follows, Sound Alive switching between an almost ballad style delivery before seismic eruptions urge you to bang your head. With numerous influences evident throughout this EP, there is something for most metal fans here. It’s melodic, but with a bit more about it than many of the shouty metalcore style bands who have flooded the market in recent years. 

There is certainly the BFMV and Trivium sound in the mix but plenty more to search for as well. Falling Forward is a gutsy, riff melting song, with some sweet harmonies but plenty of opportunity for Rapado to let loose with his animalistic roars (this guy must need throat lozenges by the end of this track). And whilst I’ve mentioned the vocals, let’s not forget what underpins the whole band, and that’s a tight metal outfit; powerful riffs from Edwards and Owen Whittaker, whilst Scott Butterworth’s bass lines intrinsically link with the powerhouse drumming of Kristian Collins. Final track Home is a bit of an anthem, one that should get the crowd moving but with an underlying message which may bring a lump to the throat. I’m not the biggest fan of this genre by a mile but Sound Alive is a superbly produced and composed debut EP which deserves wide airplay and maximum exposure. 8/10

Rock Goddess: This Time (Bite You To Death Records)

I was less than impressed with 2017’s EP It’s More Than Rock And Roll, the first offering from the reformed London trio Rock Goddess. This Time sees the recording debut of new bassist Jenny Lane, who replaced long-time member Tracey Lamb in 2018. The band hold a cult status which I often consider is undeserved. Always seen as a weaker version of Girlschool, the band were often limper than a leaf of lettuce in the 1980s. Until 2017, they haven’t recorded anything under the Rock Goddess name since 1987’s Young And Free, which wasn’t particularly impressive at the time. Their eponymous debut album and follow up Hell Hath No Fury were welcomed at the time, partly because there were so few female hard rock outfits. This Time continues where the 2017 EP left off, with a nine-track 35-minute collection of reasonable heavy metal tracks. 

The band sound is composed and controlled, but there is little depth to the songs. Are You Ready? signals the band’s return, Obsession contains some neat hooks and Two Wrongs Don’t Make A Right allows Jody Turner to open her snarling delivery. By track four, Calling To Space, there is already repetition in the style and delivery. Lyrically average at best, This Time is tighter and more polished than previous releases and at times is enjoyable but overall those who are satisfied by this level of music are those who deserve your pity. I bet they go down a storm at HRH. The musical equivalent of a pint of Carling. 5/10

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