May 14, 2020 Firewind – Firewind (Album Review)
Guitar maven Gus G and his band Firewind return with their ninth album, a self-titled storm of Power Metal due out Friday, May 15th through new home AFM Records.
Taking a look back, Firewind was originally formed by Mr. Gus G in the late ’90s as as passion project. Releasing their debut album Between Heaven and Hell in 2002, amidst Gus G’s stint with others including the Prince of Darkness, Ozzy Obsourne, Firewind has been surprisingly quite consistent through the years with album after album.
That in mind, where the legendary Ozzy Osbourne is known for nurturing young or relatively unknown guitarists for his solo work, Gus G has applied that technique by recruiting top voices to add vigor to his Firewind records. The latest in this distinguished line of voices is Herbie Langfors, replacing Henning Basse, who in turn filled the role solidified by Apollo Papathanasio, Chitral Somapala, and Stephen Fredrick. For this brand new album, Langfors is joined by stalwarts Petros “Petros Christo” Christodoulidis on bass and Johan Nunez on drums. With Gus G and Christo hailing from Greece, Nunez from Belgium, and newcomer Langfors calling Germany home, this Firewind lineup keeps the international flair of Metal alive.
As fans would expect, the refulgent guitar wizardry of Gus G provides ample fuel to the Firewind sound. However, the album is structured so tightly that almost any of the shredding Gus G does is folded snugly within the overall song. For example, a track like “All My Life” moves from the simple confines of Heavy Metal, full stop, before jumping to Progressive Metal, to Neoclassical, to… just an absolute shred show. This said, the slight instrumental detour is bookended so well by Langfors and the band that listeners may not even notice. At this point early returns on Langfors have fans reaching back to the original work done by Fredrick on the band’s first two albums.
Elsewhere, on “Overdrive,” one of the requisite ballads, the solos are almost buried in the mix, to be plucked out or ignored depending on the listener’s prerogative. Sure, there are a few self-indulgent moment, such as “Break Away,” but those cases correct themselves quickly, and are evened out by bare moments like “Longing to Know You.” Then the raucous “Kill the Pain” brings the it all to a poignant close with the chorus of vocals sounding strongest here.
It should be noted that Firewind released a video for “Rising Fire” in March, followed by “Welcome To The Empire” in April, both shot by Filmmaker Panagiotis Kountouras. The first is an excellent introduction to this fresh lineup, as its basic shots of the band moving about a burning garage actually captures the spirit of album beautifully. The second video adds some CGI magic of a dystopian cityscape, but again, the band is rightly the main focus, and with their musical flare, it is easy to miss some of the background action in the video.
With strong, standout tracks like “Rising Fire” and “Orbital Sunrise,” as well as dense departures such as “Longing to Know You” and “All My Life,” Firewind has delivered an eponymous ninth album that contains everything fans come to expect. Gus G has never sounded stronger on guitar, and his rhythm section of Petros Christo and Johan Nunez do well to form a strong support for Herbie Langfors. Overall, Firewind is a fun listen from start to finish, and that is Cryptic Rock give it 4 out of 5 stars.