FIREWIND remains a mystery to me. The band is insanely talented. Even with the relatively quick turnover rate in it’s members and relatively small fan base overall, long time guitarist and head hauncho Gus G has created some of the best Power Metal over the years. Without massive support and basically on his own. “Few Against Many” looks to be no exception to this. With a playing gig over at the OZZY camp now for Gus G, the focus and drive behind FIREWIND has not detoured away from what has always made them a solid listen on this seventh full length release.
“Few Against Many” continues where the previous “Days Of Defiance” left off. The pounding modern riffs and flourishing soulful melodies remain a staple on the record and a true highlight of Gus G’s talented shredding and riffing chops. The modern crunching guitars and sinful synth licks (the latter of which does not show up nearly enough) power out the first single “Wall Of Sound” to give the album a decidedly sleek and fresh spin, but when the band hits their standard Power Metal stride is where the album succeeds most. Tracks like the aggressively paced “Few Against Many” or the soaring choruses on “The Undying Fire” remind us why FIREWIND are able to churn out catchy Power Metal melodies with the guitars and croons of vocalist Apollo Papathanasio. Even when the band wanders off from their foundational sound with the southern swag for the opening of “Losing My Mind” (I wonder if playing Zakk Wylde material has worn off on Gus G?) or the stripped down ballad “Edge Of A Dream” that features a very subtle APOCALYPTICA, they are pumping out some strong performances that will have any Power Metal fan fist pumping in no time.
The one flaw about “Few Against Many”, which has been a plague of sorts on most FIREWIND records, is the filler. “Days Of Defiance” was heavily hindered by it and while this seventh album doesn’t collapse quite as much under the weight, the filer material in the middle portion of the album does hinder the fighting spirit. The lackluster memorability of “Another Dimension” or “Glorious” for example pulls away from the slightly more aggressive and sharpened sound that this record had been doing so well. It’s not near as detrimental as it has been to FIREWIND in the past, but it is something not to be overlooked either.
Even with the amount of filler moments that pitfalls “Few Against Many”, it’s still a strong record from the very, very talented Power Metal act. In a time when Power Metal has been running proverbial circles on itself clinging to operatic and Death Metal elements to stay original, it is a pleasant surprise to know that Gus G and company repeatedly offer up strong execution with straight up Power Metal album to album.
Songs to check out: “Wall Of Sound”, “The Undying Fire”, “Few Against Many”.
(Online May 28, 2012)