Album Review – Titanium / Atomic Number 22 (2016)

This prosperous five-piece act from Poland brings to us all the strongest element in the world in the form of beautiful Melodic Power Metal.

Rating4

titanium_atomic-number-22In case you didn’t already know, titanium is a chemical element with symbol Ti and atomic number 22, recognized mainly for its high strength. However, since 2010 this metallic element has also been a very important part of the Polish Metal scene, being represented by the skillful Melodic Heavy/Power Metal squad Titanium who released this September their second full-length album, cleverly entitled Atomic Number 22. After listening to this high-end album, you’ll realize titanium is not only very strong, but also extremely melodious, invigorating and brisk.

Formed in late 2010 by Pathfinder guitarist Karol Mania in Ostrów Wielkopolski, a city located in central Poland, Titanium have been on a constant rise since their inception, having released an EP entitled We Come to Rock! in 2012 and their self-titled full-length album the following year.  Now in 2016, Atomic Number 22 not only cements Titanium as one of the most promising bands from Poland, but also sets a new era for the band with Ukrainian singer Konstantin Naumenko (from Kiev’s Power Metal band Sunrise) taking the microphone and elevating the strength and epicness of the band’s already powerful musicality.

You better be ready for the Heavy Metal battle ignited by the title-track, Atomic Number 22, with the flawless connection between guitars and keyboards reminding me of Scandinavian Metal bands such as Stratovarius and Battle Beast, not to mention its superb backing vocals supporting Konstantin in this upbeat hymn. In addition, I have to admit I honestly can’t think of lyrics that sound more metal than this (“Atomic number 22 the father and the thunder / We’re coming right for you / Atomic number 22 no compromise just metal / Titanium comes for you”). And there’s no time to breathe as Titanium keep firing pure Melodic Power Metal for us in World of Contradictions, where drummer Filip Gruca dictates the rhythm with his fast beats and fills while the band’s guitar duo comprised of Karol Mania and Jaroslav Bona delivers those traditional riffs and solos we all love in Power Metal. Slower but more melodic and thrilling, Torn Reality brings forward heavy guitar riffs inspired by Hard Rock from the 80’s mixed with contemporary Melodic Metal, with another spot-on performance by Konstantin and an interesting ending with smooth piano notes and a melancholic vibe.

Defusive Skies is pure Stratovarius and Sonata Arctica, overflowing harmony and being probably one of Filip’s favorite songs due to its speed, with Karol and Jaroslav sounding simply amazing with their intricate solos; followed by Time Is Out, where we’re treated to a feast of sheer Melodic Metal. Once again, Konstantin keeps amusing us with his potent high-pitched vocals while Karol and Jaroslav set fire to the music through their unstoppable guitars. One Single Night, another track highly inspired by Melodic Metal from Finland, showcases a pleasant melody with the heavier punch of Power Metal enhancing its electricity, whereas the headbanging tune Guardians of Might, featuring  guest singer Piet Sielck (kicking some serious ass as he always does with his marvelous band Iron Savior), is a very traditional composition that couldn’t sound more metallic, in special due to its inspiring chorus (“In our realm We are one / Like the blazing stars will shine forever / We’re the saviors, guardians of might / We deny the fate”).

titanium-2016Future of Mankind, the longest of all tracks, is a Melodic Power Metal extravaganza with a cheerful vibe and a great balance between the main vocals by Konstantin and all backing vocals. Moreover, the musicality never slows down, keeping the level of energy always at its peak in this lesson in melodious music for fans of the genre. The last song of the regular version of Atomic Number 22, titled The Way of the White Flag, is another explosion of Melodic Metal thanks to its fast-paced drumming and truly harmonious vocal lines. Furthermore, bassist Szymon Szydłowski delivers some rumbling uppercuts while both guitarists are absolutely on fire with their fantastic riffs and solos. In case you go for the Japanese edition of the album, you’ll be nicely rewarded with Titanium’s cover version for Eagleheart, one of the biggest classics by Melodic Metal heroes Stratovarius. Very different from the original version, the band managed to switch the original base of this metal hymn to their own musicality without losing the song’s uplifting essence.

Titanium are waiting for you at their Facebook page and YouTube channel, and you can put your hands on the strongest and most melodic element in the world of heavy music at Amazon (exclusively at their Japanese store) or also at Discogs. This beautiful display of Melodic Power Metal will enliven your toughest days without a shadow of a doubt, proving one more time the sensational effect high-quality heavy music always has on our hearts and souls.

Best moments of the album: Atomic Number 22, Torn Reality and Guardians of Might.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Avalon/Marquee

Track listing
1. Atomic Number 22 5:50
2. World of Contradictions 4:45
3. Torn Reality 5:57
4. Defusive Skies 5:13
5. Time Is Out 4:00
6. One Single Night 5:37
7. Guardians of Might (feat. Piet Sielck) 4:50
8. Future of Mankind 8:52
9. The Way of the White Flag 4:01

Japanese Edition bonus track
10. Eagleheart (Stratovarius cover) 5:30

Band members
Konstantin Naumenko – vocals
Karol Mania – guitars
Jaroslav Bona – guitars
Szymon Szydłowski – bass
Filip Gruca – drums

Guest musician
Piet Sielck – additional vocals on “Guardians of Might”

Advertisements

Album Review – Iron Savior / Titancraft (2016)

One of the most underrated bands from the heavy music scene in Germany returns with another solid lesson in Power Metal, perfect for banging our heads nonstop and raising our fists in the air.

Rating4

CoverMeine Damen und Herren, it’s my pleasure to inform you German Power Metal warriors Iron Savior have just released a brand new album, entitled Titancraft, the ninth in their underrated career and another extremely well-crafted collection of old school Heavy Metal hymns. Spearheaded by the skillful Piet Sielck on vocals and guitar, Iron Savior have managed to maintain the same lineup from their 2011 album The Landing and their 2014 kick-ass album Rise of the Hero, and we all know how good and productive it is to music whenever a band doesn’t suffer too many changes in regards to its members.

Instead of changes in their lineup, Iron Savior invested into increasing the reach of their music by simply adding the abilities of several guest musicians to the album. In Titancraft, fans will be able to enjoy the contributions by guitarist Jan Bertram (Paragon), singer Frank Beck (Gamma Ray), keyboardist and pianist Daniel “Danny Danger” Galmarini (Mercury Falling), and Philippa “Pippa” Sielck  on backing vocals. Add to that the once again classic cover art by Colombian musician and illustrator Felipe Machado Franco, the same artist responsible for the artwork in The Landing and Rise of the Hero, and there you have an album that transpires Heavy Metal in all possible senses.

Rumbling bass lines, electronic effects and an eerie voice constitute the futuristic intro Under Siege, setting the tone for the title-track, Titancraft, an explosion of the purest form of Power Metal similar to what their countrymen from Gamma Ray usually do. I love when a band like Iron Savior can craft honest and exciting music even after so many years on the road, and although the vocals by Piet sound less aggressive than in their previous albums, that doesn’t mean they’re not awesome. After that solid start, we have the even more powerful Way of the Blade, a superb composition that lives up to the history of true Power Metal showcasing piercing guitar lines by Piet and Joachim “Piesel” Küstner and the thunderous bass by Jan-Sören Eckert, as well as Piet getting back to his beastly mode on vocals.

Seize the Day sounds happier than usual, which doesn’t mean the music is soft or bland despite being slightly below the rest of the album in terms of quality (let’s say that excessive happiness is also a bit tiring after a while); whereas Gunsmoke, with its lyrics inspired by the dangerous lives of gunmen in the Wild West (“And when all hope was gone / Judgement came to town / Seven guns / To shoot the outlaws down / Shoot ‘em down”), has that headbanging rhythm perfect for some air guitar. Furthermore, Thomas Nack is not only a fast drummer, but in this song he also shows his skills in a groovier form closer to classic Hard Rock. And in Beyond the Horizon, a classic Power Metal composition where backing vocals help Piet sound more powerful and epic, Danny Danger embellishes the musicality with his keyboard notes, working really well together with all guitar solos by Piet and Piesel.

BandThe fantastic The Sun Won’t Rise in Hell is an ode to Heavy and Power Metal, blending the best elements from Gamma Ray, Manowar, Judas Priest and so on, with Piet and his crew delivering a potent and metallic hymn where all guitar riffs and solos sound cutting, which is always a good thing in heavy music; and if you love high-octane Power Metal, Strike Down the Tyranny is perfect for you. It’s quite similar to many old classics by Iron Savior, with highlights to the always competent Thomas behind his drums.

Although the average Brother in Arms brings the adrenaline down a bit due to its not-so-exciting rhythm, despite its decent lyrics (“Alone on the journey / Like so often before / My circuits are gleaming / In overload / And now I’m coming ashore”) and good guitar solo, everything gets back on track in I Surrender, an outstanding power ballad where you’ll start singing its catchy lyrics instantly, all enhanced by a beautiful guitar solo and the passionate vocal performance by Piet, making the overall result even more touching. In other words, this is an amazing example of how a band can sound mighty even when not playing at full speed. Finally, if you were born to be rebellious, you’ll have a good time listening to the straightforward Power Metal tune Rebellious and its electrified guitar passages and classic beats.

In summary, Iron Savior never disappoint, always displaying their profound passion for Power Metal through their classic tunes, and it couldn’t be different in Titancraft. By the way, If you’re a diehard fan of the band, you certainly need to purchase the limited edition of the album, containing a stamped tinplate (20×30 cm) with cover artwork, an Iron Savior metalpin, a personal sketch and notes from Piet Sielck himself, a handsigned autograph card and a certificate of authenticity. As you already know, this is true Power Metal crafted by another brilliant band from Germany, a country that has metal music running through its veins, and that’s all we need to bang our heads and raise our fists with a huge smile on our faces.

Best moments of the album: Titancraft, Way of the Blade, The Sun Won’t Rise in Hell and I Surrender.

Worst moments of the album: Seize the Day and Brother in Arms.

Released in 2016 AFM Records

Track listing
1. Under Siege (Intro) 0:58
2. Titancraft 5:21
3. Way of the Blade 3:57
4. Seize the Day 4:57
5. Gunsmoke 5:07
6. Beyond the Horizon 5:58
7. The Sun Won’t Rise in Hell 5:02
8. Strike Down the Tyranny 5:10
9. Brother in Arms 5:23
11. I Surrender 4:04
12. Rebellious 4:49

Limited/Japanese Edition bonus tracks
10. R&R Addiction 5:10
13. Protector 2016 4:36

Japanese Edition bonus track
14. Assailant 2016 4:20

Band members
Piet Sielck – vocals, guitar
Joachim “Piesel” Küstner – guitar
Jan-Sören Eckert – bass guitar
Thomas Nack – drums

Guest musicians
Jan Bertram – lead guitars on “R&R Addiction”
Philippa “Pippa” Sielck – backing vocals
Frank Beck – backing vocals, additional lead vocals on “Assailant 2016”
Daniel “Danny Danger” Galmarini – keyboards on “Beyond The Horizon”, “I Surrender” and “Brother In Arms”, piano on “I Surrender”

Album Review – Iron Savior / Rise of the Hero (2014)

If you’re addicted to traditional Power Metal, you’ll definitely love the new Iron Savior album.

Rating4

CoverNo one knows if Germany is going to win the 2104 World Cup in Brazil in a few months. However, if they play only half as amazing as the new releases from many Teutonic Heavy Metal bands, I’m pretty sure they’ll make it at least to the final four. After the sonic extravaganza we’ve already had the pleasure to enjoy this year from bands like Primal Fear, Axel Rudi Pell, Vanden Plas, Van Canto, and even Caliban (and there are many others, but I just can’t list all of them here), here come Piet Sielck and his mates from German Power Metal band Iron Savior with another damn good traditional Power Metal album, Rise of the Hero, the eighth full-length studio album in their solid career.

I must admit it’s hard to find any signs of innovation in the whole album, but remember we’re talking about POWER METAL here, a genre where basically no creativity is necessary in the making of a great album, and besides, it’s not an item requested by the diehard fans at all: we just want some heavy riffs, fast solos and sing-along chorus while we enjoy a beer and bang our heads with our friends at a concert or festival anywhere in the world.

In order to warm up their fans for some pure Power Metal, the band offers us the good intro Ascendence, full of “spaceship” effects and other interesting elements. Then it’s time for the real party to start with Last Hero, a song that couldn’t sound more traditional with its double bass and addictive chorus, which simply means it’s awesome, and Revenge of the Bride, a very Gamma Ray-like track (maybe as a tribute to his friend Kai Hansen, who was with the band from 1996 to 2001?) with direct riffs and drums.

The electricity continues with From Far Beyond Time, which starts with a nice riff before turning into another traditional fast Power Metal tune the likes of Blind Guardian, especially the singing and backing vocals, and Burning Heart, with its astounding rhythm, awesome raw bass lines, and a chorus that is perfect for those famous “Oh-oh-oh!” moments when played live. By the way, the video for this track is really funny: how did Piet find so much time to sing the whole song inside his car? Was the traffic so bad he couldn’t move for almost 5 minutes? Anyway, it’s for sure one of the best songs of the album, if not the best.

BandFor the ones that love that insanely fast Power Metal from the 80’s, Thunder from the Mountains is absolutely mandatory in your playlist: it has the same kind of punch found on Helloween’s classic Ride the Sky. But if you prefer those songs that are made for banging your head and playing some air guitar, you’ll love the great Iron Warrior and the following track, the not so amazing Dragon King, with its 100% Manowar-ish lyrics.

The next song was supposed to be just a bonus track, but the band liked the final result so much they decided to make it a regular album track, according to Piet himself: Dance with Somebody is a cover to Swedish Rock band Mando Diao’s hit, and I guess I don’t need to say which version is better, right? The following track, Firestorm, is a good song, but it lacks the same energy as the rest of the album and it falls flat after a while; the same happens with The Demon, a semi-ballad that doesn’t exactly match with Iron Savior’s style. The last track of the album, Fistraiser, puts things back where they belong, and if you don’t see yourself in the lyrics, I’m sorry, but you’re not a true Heavy Metal fan. Finally, if you purchase the special edition or the Japanese edition of the album, you’ll also get the 2014 version for Iron Savior’s old tracks I’ve Been To Hell or Mind Over Matter, respectively.

The beautiful album art by Colombian artist Felipe Machado Franco, who has worked with many other Heavy Metal icons such as Blind Guardian, Rage and Iced Earth, couldn’t represent better the music in Rise of the Hero. In other words (and I may sound repetitive here), it’s pure Power Metal, something the talented Piet and his band have managed to do extremely well since the formation of Iron Savior, and we can happily rest assured it’s something they will keep doing in the years to come.

Best moments of the album: Last Hero, Burning Heart, Iron Warrior and Dance with Somebody.

Worst moments of the album: Dragon King, Firestorm and The Demon.

Released in 2014 AFM Records

Track listing
1. Ascendence (Intro) 1:28
2. Last Hero 5:00
3. Revenge of the Bride 4:35
4. From Far Beyond Time 5:17
5. Burning Heart 4:39
6. Thunder from the Mountains 5:08
7. Iron Warrior 4:41
8. Dragon King 5:43
9. Dance with Somebody (Mando Diao cover) 3:55
10. Firestorm 4:58
11. The Demon 5:02
12. Fistraiser 4:40 

Bonus tracks
13. I’ve Been To Hell 2014 (Limited Edition) 4:04
14. Mind Over Matter 2014 (Japanese Edition) 5:34

Band members
Piet Sielck – vocals, guitars
Joachim “Piesel” Küstner – guitars, backing vocals, additional lead vocals on “I’ve Been To Hell 2014” and “Mind Over Matter 2014”
Jan-Sören Eckert – bass, backing vocals
Thomas Nack – drums, backing vocals