AFM Records [Release date 15.05.20]
Although the main attraction of Firewind is their frontman Gus G, maybe their Achilles heel over the years has been the regularly changing line-up. This time round, the band have another new singer – Herbie Langhans – and there is no keyboards player after Bob Katsionis left the band. Only bass player Petros Christo remains from the 2003 second album line-up with current drummer Johan Nunez joining for 2012′s Few Against Many.
This constant change doesn’t allow any real team playing or consistency. It is very much frontman and sidemen. But the use of the band’s name as the album title is an indication that Gus G see this version of the band as something of a re-generation and a return to the earliest four piece format.
The self-titled ninth studio album is, though, very much business as usual. ‘Welcome To The Empire’ is an adequate scene setter offering up Gus G’s fluid pomposity before the song breaks into the characteristic double bass drum driven power metal. Langhan’s vocal has an almost Biff Byford metal gruffness and provides a suitable counter to Gus G’s trilling.
There is some good riffage on the album, as displayed on ‘Rising Fire’ , ‘Perfect Stranger’ and Dio-esque ‘Overdrive’ but songs like ‘Kill The Pain’ and ‘Break Away’ are somewhat ordinary even with the latter’s florid neo-classical bridge section and ‘All My Life’ is really a reimagining of Dio’s ‘We Rock.’. Langhans sang with Avantasia and lends a symphonic metal slant to ‘Orbital Sunrise’.
Firewind albums usually include at least one “killer” track and this time round the mid-tempo ‘Longing To Know You’ hits the button (on ‘Immortals’ it was ‘Lady Of 1000 Sorrows’ ). Rather than a love song, this is part of a loosely connected sci-fi theme on several songs.
My own reservation, as with the previous album, is that a lot of this sounds a bit dated. Superior power metal, maybe, but that genre is well worn and maybe a little tired-sounding in 2020.
As ever, though, supremely lifted by Gus G who remains one of the more appealing guitarists of his generation. And the splattered vinyl version only available direct from the label is pretty cool too. ***1/2
Review by David Randall
In his show broadcast on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio on 10 May David Randall played a further selection of artists and albums included in the new Features series, “2020 Vision”.
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Featured Albums w/c 25 May (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 FM Synchronized (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 THE ROCKET DOLLS The Art Of Disconnect (indie)
14:00-16:00 BEN KUNDER Searching For The Stranger (indie)
Power Plays w/c 11 May (Mon-Fri)
THE MERCY KILLS Alone (Golden Robot Records)
DEAD REYNOLDS By Your Side (indie)
THE JAILBIRDS Watery Grave (Golden Robot Records)
ALI MASS & MICKY MOODY These Times (Last Man Music)
MASSIVE WAGONS Bangin In Your Stereo (Earache)
UDO We Are One (AFM Records)
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