Firewind - Immortals - (8/10)
Published on January 24, 2017
The first anticipated major release of 2017 for me happens to be the first Firewind album in almost 5 years. I confess to having lost track of them since their excellent 2008 album The Premonition – and since then, the microphone has been handed to the capable hands of ex-Brainstorm man Henning Basse. I certainly felt Apollo’s absence, as he was a unique yet familiar identity for the Greek metallers. But Basse powers out every note with utter conviction – and we all know the inimitable style of Gus G. on the guitars is the true identity of Firewind. So consider Immortals both a rebirth and a reminder.
This 2017 release is a semi-concept album based around ancient Greek legends. Nice to see a band apart from Winterfylleth truly return to their roots and heritage! This concept gives the album a world in which to belong, and it all feels cohesive within that world. Unfortunately it also birthed the hideously cringeworthy narration at the start of “Ode To Leonidas”. Another slight setback is that the guitars are surprisingly low in the mix for a band whose mainman is one of the greatest guitarists on the planet. Immortals is lacking a little in the truly heavy riffs that put Firewind one step above the power metal crowd. You know what I mean, the kind like “Life Foreclosed” or “Dreamchaser”. They’re still present, but saved for special moments near the album’s close.
Gus and co. chose to kick off proceedings in classic fashion. “Hands of Time” is an up-tempo, galloping power metal anthem with a chorus that demands a live setting. Other tracks like “Warriors & Saints” and “Rise From The Ashes” follow suit, firmly reminding us that Firewind never lost the magic from whence they came. These tracks show off the solid performance by Jo Nunez behind the kit, as well as Bob Katsionis’ skills on the keys. The slightly stronger keyboard presence on this album adds an extra dimension to some tracks that may have otherwise become predictable (the harpsichord on “Vision of Tomorrow” especially).
Structurally, this album thrives. After a reliably ‘metal’ first half, the half-ballad “Lady of 1000 Sorrows” eases the pressure beautifully with its soaring melodies. This sense of calm is only created to be completely annihilated by the vicious riff of the instrumental title-track. THAT’S the kind of riff I want to hear from Firewind. Reminiscent of “The Fire And The Fury” – it’s a total face-melter! The album only carries on gathering momentum until the very last epic chorus of “Vision of Tomorrow” (which should not be a bonus track, if we’re honest!).
Our favourite Greeks have proved to all fans that a 5-year absence did absolutely no harm. If you enjoyed Firewind before – you still enjoy them now. Pick up a copy of Immortals because, for what faults it has, it’s another worthy addition to the world of power metal. 2017 is a go!