I first heard of Firewind when they were supporting Dragonforce on the Inhuman Rampage tour. As usual with support bands I had never heard of I spent most of their set in the bar and only caught the last few songs, one being Breaking the Silence from the Allegiance album. Ok, probably not one of their best songs (although I loved it) but it was enough to get me hooked and want to find out more about them. Which is why, soon after the gig I went out and bought said album.
I became a huge fan but over the years, as my interest in power metal waned, they have fallen off my radar. So, when the new album dropped into the Ever Metal inbox, I knew I had to check them out and see what, if anything, had changed.
It’s been five years since the Greek melodic power metallers released their critically acclaimed album “Few Against Many” but main man Gus G hasn’t been taking a break. He has released not one, but two solo albums, toured worldwide in support of both and has hit the road once again with Ozzy Osbourne, whose band member he had been since 2009. The rest of the band have been just as busy, each releasing solo stuff too.
If this album could be summed up in one sentence that sentence would be…..”This is the grand re-birth of Firewind.”
Now with new frontman Henne Basse (ex-Metallium, ex-Brainstorm, Sons of Season) who replaces Apollo Papathanasio (Spiritual Beggars), he is no newcomer to the band having toured with them on the 2007 Allegiance tour. As has been said of the new vocalist: “this rich, classic rock referencing vocals are the perfect foil for the wealth of material the band have been working on and he brings a re-invigorated power to the fold”. He puts in a gritty performance with a tough, hard edge and seemingly makes the euro-power inspired (some call them cheesy) songs heavy and sincere and his voice in throatier, deeper, almost growling.
So what of the album? This is the first time the band have used an outside producer, Dennis Ward (Unisonic, Pink Cream 69), who not only engineered, mixed and mastered the album but also co-wrote it with Gus G and the album is a “return to the highly infectious, catchy and anthemic origins of the band.” Which, in my opinion, is a very good thing.
Their first concept album it “has to do with ancient Greek history and more specifically the Battles of Thermopylae and Salamis in 480BC during the second Persian invasion of Greece. In Thermopylae the vastly outnumbered Greeks held off the Persians for seven days (three of which were days of battle) before the rear-guard was annihilated in one of history’s most famous last stands,” says Gus G.
It is unrelenting, inescapable, powerful, intense, straightforward, colossal and energetic…..everything a good power metal album should be, with just enough cheese that most people will be able to stomach.
One thing that does stand out on this album is the high level of individual instrumental skills. The guitars and keyboard duel fantastically with each other and the guitarwork of Gus G is simply outstanding as he rips into one solo after another. He always impresses with his guitar prowess and it is clear he is one of the best shredders around.
The album is a rollercoaster which energetically transports you between the realms of traditional heavy metal, epic hard rock and melodic power/speed metal, a journey full of pulsating keyboards, thumping riffs and euphoric choruses.
The album is solidly written and shows Gus at the peak of his writing form. He says, “the songs were written in a much slower pace this time, as it’s the longest break we ever took between albums. So we took our time writing this and concentrated on keeping ideas that were really strong.”
And it shows. Opening with the recently released single “Hands of Time”, a stonker of a track, there is not a bad song on this album. “Lady of 1,000 Sorrows” is the albums power ballad and is followed by the instrumental, title-track “Immortals” but one of the stand out tracks for me was “Ode to Leonidis.” With its spoken word intro that reeks of Manowar, it is magnificently pompous and heavy but able to catch the listener’s attention. It really is a true power metal track.
Some people are describing this as a comeback album and if that is what it is meant to be, then it’s an awesome one and the more I listen to it the better it becomes.
This is an immense return to form of a band that, for me, had probably the greatest contribution to the power metal genre, and really is a must for ANY power metal fan.
1. Hands of Time
2. We Defy
3. Ode to Leonidas
4. Back On the Throne
5. Live and Die By the Sword
6. Wars of Ages
7. Lady of 1000 Sorrows
9. Warriors and Saints
10. Rise from the Ashes
Gus G. – Guitars
Petros Christo – Bass
Bob Katsionis – Keyboards
Jo Nunez – Drums
Henning Basse – Vocals
Originally posted to Ever Metal
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