It’s been 5 years since their last studio album, “Few Against Many,” came out, but now FIREWIND are back with their newest creation, “Immortals.” The band around Gus G., who has made himself a name also as the guitarist of Ozzy Osbourne’s band, has been more or less on my radar since their excellent album, “The Premonition,” from 2008. Since then there has been a major change in their lineup though: vocalist Apollo Papathanasio parted ways with the band and was replaced in 2015 by Henning Basse, who is quite well-known in power metal circles. I really liked Papathanasio’s voice, so personally speaking, Basse had quite big boots to fill.
This time around, FIREWIND aims to conquer the hearts of heavy metal fans with a concept album focusing on the battles of Thermopylae and Salamis. It goes without saying that these historical events, including the battle of King Leonidas and his Spartan warriors against their Persian invaders, requires some pretty bombastic music as their soundtrack – and FIREWIND delivers.
FIREWIND clearly hasn’t abandoned their roots in power metal, as songs like the opener (“Hands of Time”) impressively demonstrates, with its grandiose refrain that manages to get the listener pumped up for the upcoming album. “Immortals” offers its listener a wide variety of different song types, from classic riff-based headbangers such as “Back on the Throne” to the obligatory power ballad, “Lady of 1000 Sorrows.” While the former pays homage to the old-school heavyweights in the scene, the latter sits well in the big picture of the album by letting the listener take a breath before the closer.
The three-piece finale consists of the album’s title song as an intro to “Warriors and Saints” and “Rise from the Ashes,” both of which come with tight riffs and strong melodies. The band is not remotely afraid to experiment moderately with more modern musical influences, so they don’t by any means to stick out in a negative sense from the rather traditional heavy metal. In particular, the keyboards that start off “War of Ages” sound fresh in the album context, although the refrain falls unfortunately a little bit short in comparison to others on “Immortals.” The only weaker song on the album is the follow-up to the opener, “We Defy,” mostly because it sounds somewhat bland when compared to its competition on the album. It’s the epic war anthems “Ode to Leonidas” and “Live and Die by the Sword” though, which grasped me by the balls since the very first listen-through. Equipped with mini-intros and heavy-hitting riffs, they form the spearhead of the album’s phalanx.
Henning Basse’s voice differs heavily from Papathanasio’s style, but it actually better fits the heavier sound of “Immortals” compared to its last few predecessors. One could say that FIREWIND have taken a step back to their older sound and differentiate themselves from the hard rock-ish influences of, for example, “The Premonition.” Alongside Basse’s voice, this also suits the war stories featured on the album. However, what truly makes FIREWIND stand out as a band is guitarist Gus G. His work on the guitar is magnificent from start to finish. And I am not talking about over the top DRAGONFORCE-like solos or that sort of thing, because his exceptional talent serves first and foremost the songs as a whole.
All-in-all, FIREWIND manages once again to bring a thoroughly solid album to the table, which should satisfy heavy and power metal fans alike. “Immortals” is versatile, marked by professional musicianship and filled mostly with very solid songs. FIREWIND has made a strong comeback and surely will find new fans with “Immortals.”
Written by Hiski Hakamies
- Hands of Time
- We Defy
- Ode to Leonidas
- Back on the Throne
- Live and Die by the Sword
- War of Ages
- Lady of 1000 Sorrows
- Warriors and Saints
- Rise from the Ashes
- Vision of Tomorrow
Henning Basse – vocals
Gus G. – guitars
Petros Christodoulidis – bass
Bob Kastionis – keyboards, guitars
Johan Nunez – drums
Century Media Records
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