Iron Savior - Live at the Final Frontier

by Matt Hensch

What is required of a live album to earn a spot among "Live after Death," "Unleashed in the East," and Deep Purple's legendary "Made in Japan?" Strippers? Special guest appearances? Stage theatrics so bizarre and unorganized that the concert ends in a battle royal between musicians, actors, fans, and completely unrelated parties all captured on tape in a cacophonous storm of screams and thuds? If you answered yes to any of these questions, get the f*** out. Why not stick to putting on a killer show without tainting the sacred escape from reality that is the live performance? Why not ride on pure passion and energy instead of gimmicks? Why not make the live experience an experience that is as live as it gets?

Iron Savior, in its own way, has willingly been fixed in the philosophies of old in both style and integrity. As "Live at the Final Frontier" is the band's first official live offering, one would be wise to expect the raw passion of Iron Savior's excellent studio albums to transfer to the live environment seamlessly. This is the case of "Live at the Final Frontier," as the colossal performance is an impeccable snapshot of a group that understands how to make the stage a source of magic. The massive show-an eighty-five minute trek featuring fifteen originals, a melody, and a cover of Judas Priest's "Breaking the Law"-is a modern example of the quintessential live album. Iron Savior's raw tenacity and passion are almost tangible within the steel barrage of Piet Sielck and friends ruling the stage with, if you excuse the pun, an iron fist.

"Live at the Final Frontier" nails the requisites for a live recording to excel. The mix brings enough crunch to the guitars to give off the traditional Iron Savior bite without shoving the rhythm section out of the picture. Piet deserves a medal for sounding incredible; his performance is perfect. Obviously, all things considered, the dudes of Iron Savior nail every solo and section with the metallic might one would expect, not once tapping on the brake. Even the backing vocals, pivotal to the success of "The Savior" and others, are performed wonderfully and mixed into the performance with just the right amount of impact. Needless to say, Iron Savior was at the top of its game when this monster was recorded.

Iron Savior's relevance in the latter-day setting is reflected in the setlist, which is mostly based on material from "The Landing" and "Rise of the Hero." They yank out a few tracks from "Unification" and the self-titled debut with a select cut from every Iron Savior full-length, save for "Megatropolis," sprinkled in the mix of newer material. What is listed as "Iron Watcher" is a medley of the band's eponymous track and "Watcher in the Sky" cooked up in a nice blend. Having this combination at least makes sense because both tracks appear on the band's self-titled debut, not a bunch of random tunes stitched together without any cohesion whatsoever.

The Judas Priest cover ending "Live at the Final Frontier" is the splendid alley-oop finish to Iron Savior's flawless performance. Piet sounds awesome, the song is contorted enough to give it the Iron Savior twist without taking a dump on the original, and it's clear the band is having a total blast closing out the show with an all-time classic. Again, "Live at the Final Frontier" is a reflection of the reliability and urge of Iron Savior's studio work, translated to the stage without missing a beat, capped off by a majestic closer and prime performances. This might piss you off if you disliked "The Landing" and "Rise of the Hero," but Iron Savior is so musically compelling that "Live at the Final Frontier" should appease the fanatic and the wary alike.

Iron Savior - Live at the Final Frontier

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