I have always had a serious soft spot for Germany’s Blind Guardian “inspired” power thrash outfit Iron Savior. They are just one of those bands that despite being very close to a parody of their more successful contemporaries, really just do it for me album after album. After their decent, if overall lukewarm 2007 release Megatropilis, the silence within the camp has been deafening, and I began to wonder whether we would ever hear from them again. To my great surprise and delight, the band’s seventh full length album The Landing has arrived, and for fans of Blind Guardian, Savage Circus, and German power thrash as a whole, this is essential listening, and quite possibly the band’s finest album to date.

After a throwaway introductory track used solely to build atmosphere, the band kicks off the proceedings with the absolutely killer “The Savior.” Upon first listen the band seems to be retreading the same ground as past releases, and this is a fair statement. With that said, repeated listening reveals an underlying maturity to the song writing that is new to the band. There are a myriad of minute details, guitar licks and interesting structural choices that make the songs feel fuller, more significant. “Starlight” really brings out the space opera, sci-fi theme the band has explored since their genesis. “March of Doom” grabs the listener by the neck and hurls them into the pit. This is blood surging, head banging monster that does the band’s heavier catalogue proud.

The hilariously titled “Heavy Metal Never Dies” is a fist thumping anthem that has been done a thousand times before, Manowar and Primal Fear coming immediately to mind. Maybe I am a sucker for these kinds if cheese wagon tracks, but the old school sound accompanied by delicious dual guitar solos make it the most memorable, if not necessarily the best song on the album.  “Moment In Time” gets the award for best track, as it really is just a gorgeous, triumphant slice of sing along melodic metal, highly reminiscent of early Blind Guardian. “Hall of the Heroes” comes in a very, very close second if only because of the incredible mid tempo intro accompanied by some juicy lead guitars. Also of note are the silliest lyrics of the entire album, with the usual words of mighty warriors, steeds, and burning fires. I just eat this stuff up!

“R.U. Ready” is a quick paced little number reminiscent of a modernized Judas Priest track, about playing guitar in the prime of the heavy metal movement. With the frenetic solos and simple, but effective use of the good old fashioned rock and roll structure, this one will have you, as the band says “rocking on until the night is gone, rocking hard into the morning sun!” The aptly titled “Faster Than All” is the thrashiest track, with a heavily punk influenced back beat that is again reminiscent of Battalions of Fear era Blind Guardian. A pretty forgettable song, but not bad by any stretch.

“Before the Pain” is another epic ballad, replete with emotive guitar solos, and a surprisingly bluesy feel. I like this track in particular as it allows vocalist/guitarist/main man Piet Sielck  really stretch his vocal capacity and toy with some interesting melodies.  The closing track “No Guts, No Glory” is another simple, balls out heavy metal song that, while overall unremarkable and certainly not as epic as some of the previous songs, is a solid end to a solid release. I can imagine a lot of fans wanting to hear it live. Production wise, this is heavy, loud, and pretty standard for the genre, with one small exception: You can really hear the bass. This is a common complaint for me across the entire modern heavy metal scene, and the band really nailed it this time around. The bottom line? A fantastic release by a consistently solid group, and a huge step above their last album. Shout it out and play it loud, because this is what it’s all about! Heavy metal never dies!