Published on February 11th, 2017 | by Justin G.
It’s been nearly five years since we’ve seen a new studio album from Greek power metal veterans Firewind. I mean, what exactly has been keeping Gus G.? Oh right, he released a pair of solo albums and has been touring as the new guitarist for someone named Ozzy Osbourne. I guess we can give him a pass. Beyond Gus’s other activities, we’ve seen some other changes in the Firewind camp. They have a new label in AFM (a perfect fit for this caliber of power metal band) and a new singer in former Metalium frontman Henning Basse.
Immortals is the band’s eighth studio album, and is the Firewind’s first-ever concept album, focusing on ancient Greek history and epic battles. Now, the last two Firewind albums felt a bit like “business as usual,” but Immortals feels more like a rebirth for the band. Part of that is the conceptual focus, which gives the album a powerful, memorable theme that runs through all of the songs. And part of that is the addition of Basse, who has such a massive voice. Replacing Apollo Papathanasio is no easy feat, but I can’t think of anyone better suited to belting out power metal anthems of Leonidas and his 300. As huge as the vocals are on Immortals (and they are huge), they’re matched (and then some) by Gus G’s guitar heroics. He delivers ridiculously intricate solos, but perhaps more importantly keeps the melodic focus throughout the album. You can tell the band didn’t just hammer out a dozen new songs in a hurry to meet a label deadline. Immortals feels like a labor of love. And metal. Mostly metal.
Immortals may be a concept album and work best as a larger whole, but it does have its share of standout songs. The anthemic “Ode to Leonidas” is an obvious highlight, and “Live and Die By the Sword” and “Wars of Ages” have a similar epic feel. “Lady of 1000 Sorrows” is something of a surprise favorite, sounding almost like a melodic rock love song you’d find on a Hardline album. The pounding rhythms of “Immortals” and “Warriors and Saints” put the album back on a sword-wielding power metal path though.
It’s really great to have Firewind back, especially sounding so energized again. Immortals is the best thing they’ve done since Premonition (my favorite Firewind album) and an early contender for power metal album of the year. Needless to say, it’s a must-have for Firewind fans, especially those who may have drifted away from the band in the past few years. It’s also an album that any fan of hard-hitting yet melodic power metal (especially bands like Iron Savior, Brainstorm and Sabaton) should love.
Summary: Firewind returns to glory!