FIREWIND – Firewind

FIREWIND – Firewind

Gus G. has made a name for himself over the past 20 years with his superior skill on guitar and songwriting second to none. He’s spent time in Dream Evil, Arch Enemy, and most notably in Ozzy Osbourne’s band, but his primary project and focus has always been Firewind, an act that has truly come into its own over the past two decades.

With a style that he refers to as "melodic metal" (a heady mix of classic hard rock and power metal), they have released album after album of solid and exciting albums, with a rotating cast of vocalists that have all had their own specific strengths. With this new self-titled album, he recruited Herbie Langhans of Sinbreed fame to take over from Henning Basse, and the results speak for themselves.

Of all the Firewind records, this one feels the most confident and comfortable in its own skin. The stellar production by Tobias Lindell (whose work with Europe gives you an idea of the high level of quality) is clear and heavy with an open epicness that makes for a really tasty listen. The power metal aspect is still part of the magic, but overall this sounds like classic heavy metal of the highest order, from power balladry to mid-paced chuggery to all-out speed metal. The choruses are all infectiously earwormy, which is a Firewind staple, but never have I heard the band produce such perfect fist-bangers – this is one for the books.

The first three songs are prime Firewind, with pumping bass, furious drums, beefy riffs, epic solos, and almost an Udo-style vocal from Langhans (Gus has mentioned that he has a voice similar to their earthy-throated first singer, Stephen Fredrick, hence continuing the band’s legacy). There’s a mini cosmic trilogy weaved throughout the album – "Orbitual Sunrise", "Longing To Know You", and "Space Cowboy" tell a cautionary tale for modern times, in Gus’ own words: "It’s kind of a Sci-Fi story about the overexploitation of nature seen through the eyes of a lonely astronaut, orbiting earth in his space capsule". All three songs have very different styles, but add up to a fantastic story. For me though, "Perfect Stranger" is the true highlight of the album, with its impressively heavy riff, soaring chorus, and moving solo, it is the ultimate Firewind song, a blaster that has ‘classic’ written all over it.

With ‘Firewind’, the band have made the record that I always knew they were capable of with its astounding consistency, flawless playing, and downright enjoyability. I do hope that they keep Langhans in the fold, as his voice has a quality that transcends trends or styles, and it suits the group perfectly. Some albums come and go with little fanfare, but Firewind hasn’t left my playlist since I received it, and it will certainly do the same for you. Heavy metal is alive and well in 2020, people – embrace it and bang that head!