Thoughts on 'The Landing'
31. December 2011 at 18:59 #4921
Hi there! I just rediscovered the board again and remembered the excitement around the release of Battering Ram in 2004, so I wanted to drop my thoughts on the latest album in.
First of all, I think I have to say a bit about the last album to describe why I’m quite so happy with this one – because looking back on it, I can see that Megatropolis was an album that was made in troubled times. While it had some good moments and is still a fairly decent album among my collection, I couldn’t shake off the feeling that it had been made… distractedly, rather less perfected than every other one of their albums with the usual huge chorus vocals all but completely missing. The dedication note on the back cover and the later troubles with Dockyard 1 now seem to indicate why that might have been.
But after a five year gap, I was absolutely ecstatic to hear "The Savior" when it appeared on Youtube – this was the band that I knew again, the massiveness of the sound and the unashamed catchiness were back. I put it on my list of potential Christmas presents from my wife, and it was a difficult task not to listen to the whole thing online before it arrived, but I pulled through 🙂 And the rest of the album certainly didn’t disappoint. I’ve learned, once again, that the second time you listen to an Iron Savior album is the really special one – when you realize that you’re singing along with it, to parts that you didn’t realize you’d learned the first time but have completely hooked into your mind.
A lot of the new songs sound like fresh updates and tributes to earlier ones – the most obvious being "The Savior", which sounds like an updated theme song for the band. Other references I picked up on were "Hall of the Heroes" sounding a lot like "Warrior" and name-dropping "Tales of the Bold", and "Starlight" being similar in mood to "Starborn". I’m glad that, after "Farewell and Goodbye", the Iron Savior itself hasn’t been written out entirely – but even though the first two songs of the album seem to be about it, this is the first album that doesn’t have a discernible storyline to it. I did love the plots attached to the first four albums (Condition Red had a plot twist that genuinely surprised me, which isn’t something that you say about metal albums often), but I remember it being said that it was being pushed back a little in ‘Battering Ram’ to allow more freedom of songwriting. And ‘Megatropolis’ was about a futuristic city with only vague ties to the rest of the story, but this time every song seems to just stand on its own.
On that subject, realizing "Faster than All" was based on a Clint Eastwood film was a bit of a surprise! I remember experimenting with this type of song in ‘The Omega Man’ on the last album, but this is an unusual step outside science fiction – is there a story behind how this song came about, or just something that you wanted to retell as a fan?
And I’m glad that I waited for the import version, as well – I think the album would feel a bit short if not for the inclusion of the opening tracks from the first two full-length albums. They have the power of the later releases with the nostalgia of the old ones (because it really has now been ten years since I first discovered the band – that’s slightly scary). It’s good to hear them entirely redone, rather than just re-played with a slight update to the style – the changed chorus of Atlantis Falling really surprised me, and while I think I still prefer the original melody, it was a nice surprise to have something new there.
I feel sort of strange putting so personal a message into an album review, but I know that Piet himself occasionally reads this forum – and one of the things I’ve always loved about Iron Savior is how ‘human’ they are, with the out-of-metal-character things like the silly liner note videos for Condition Red, and the wonderful audio commentaries on Battering Ram (I still can’t stop smiling at the discussion of ‘tyranny’ versus ‘TY-ranny’ with Piet and Yenz). And besides, with songs like Before the Pain – and even The Savior and Starlight, which could easily be metaphors for coming back from the void in a more metaphorical sense – it feels like a more personal album… of a triumphant return from a bad time in life that’s over but not forgotten (apparently, songwriters live in danger of becoming analogies of their songs 🙂 ). The positive tone throughout the album shows hope again, and I’m very glad to hear the band I knew come back after I feared they had disappeared.
So thanks and well done to Piet for his strength in getting through life’s obstacles and coming back to give us another spectacular album, and to everyone else involved with the band for making it happen. Thanks for showing us that… empires and entire civilizations may die, but life itself cannot be eliminated – it will find a way to rise again and again 🙂
Happy new year, everyone!
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