Firewind - Immortals

Firewind - Immortals

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(CD, AFM Records, 2017)

At last, FIREWIND decided to break the almost five years long hiatus and are ready to drop “Immortals” which I think will be the first concept album in the band’s back catalogue. I am sure the band’s die-hard Power Metal fans will rejoice because according to Gus’ sayings (check the interview HERE), this album marks the return to the Power Metal norms that FIREWIND introduced with the first three albums. However, hearing him explaining this decision made me feel a bit sad, since an artist is by default meant to be free and not be confined inside boxes that we, the fans, are very willing to create. So, I was extremely cautious and a bit skeptical before clicking on the 'play' button to see how “Immortals would break this five-year studio silence, having Mr. Henning Basse behind the mic.

The short keyboard intro, the double bass drumming and the anthemic riff are enough evidence pointing that FIREWIND are back to the European Power Metal sound. Henning sounds amazing and I strongly believe that he is an excellent fit for this band, and after all, he has won his wings long time ago, having shared the stage with FIREWIND quite a few times. This song passes all the quality checks for the sound you should have been looking for, especially if you consider Gus’ solo albums alien to your listening preferences. For me, this is ok and even though it is well-written, it fails to captivate my interest aside from some singing-along action close to the end where Henning is hitting the high-pitches. “We Defy” is heavier and bit faster but is still walking on safe grounds with too much double bass for my taste. In case you’re wondering (shame, if you do), Gus is delivering the guitar shredding goods at ease with a killer solo and lots of fret-melting action. Having such a start, I was about to throw the towel and accept FIREWIND’s decision to return to the sound that created their solid fanbase. Fortunately (I am that easy to accept my defeat), the nice clean guitar arpeggios and the spoken words were enough to listen close to “Ode To Leonidas” after getting goosebumps hearing the historic “molon lave”. Yeah, the hard hittin’ riff-driven groove carries some of the Hard Rock quality that is always present in Gus’ musical doings. Henning really shines here as his singing timbre fits perfectly the keyboards melodies. Of course, the chorus is made for live shows and, on top of this, if you listen closely, you’ll find some JUDAS PRIEST in the rhythm guitars (almost like a “Hellion” flavor). So, there is still a Hard Rock pulse in FIREWIND’s heart as you will also discover in “Back On Throne” where I could easily image Jeff Scott Soto delivering the singing in a TALISMAN way. Ok, I may have gone overboard for this but I think (hope) you’d get what I am saying. By the way, the nice guitar leads and Henning’s vocals just during the bridge, just before the solo, are super tasty. The best song of the album is “Live And Die By The Sword” that starts with some more clean guitar arpeggios (serving the Ancient Greek atmosphere) before laying down a killer groove driven by another fantastic riff, being topped off by the “hey, hey” backing vocals. I can see fists pumping in the air during this one which happens to be the perfect balance between the old and the new FIREWIND eras.

The album is wrapped with a nice production that to my unprofessional ears does not come as over-compressed and, in fact, I totally enjoy the basslines which occasionally take a step forward as it happens during the power ballad “Lady Of 1000 Sorrows”. If by now you have not been convinced how well Henning fits FIREWIND, then this one will blow away every cloud of doubt you have in your mind. If I were to choose a song that represents the entire album that would be “Rise From The Ashes”; even though this is not my album favorite, it showcases where FIREWIND musically stand with the return to the early Euro Power Metal being a solid fact but this was done with grace and quality without discarding everything that Gus was trying to do with the previous LPs. So, what you will get is a taste of both worlds with the scale leaning more towards the Power Metal norms, with the usual high quality songwriting by FIREWIND.

8/10


Links:

www.Firewind.Gr
www.MySpace.Com/Firewind
www.FaceBook.Com/FirewindOfficial
www.Twitter.Com/FirewindMusic


Tracklist:

01. Hands Of Time
02. We Defy
03. Ode To Leonidas
04. Back On The Throne
05. Live And Die By The Sword
06. Wars Of Ages
07. Lady Of 1000 Sorrows
08. Immortals
09. Warriors And Saints
10. Rise From The Ashes


Lineup:

Gus G. - Guitar
Petros Christo - Bass
Bob Katsionis - Keyboards
Johan Nunez - Drums
Henning Basse - Vocals