Friday, March 21, 2014

Gus G. - I Am The Fire (2014)

Most of you probably know Kostas "Gus G." Karamitroudis as the guitarist and founder of the power metal band Firewind and also as the current guitarist for the Prince of Darkness Ozzy Osbourne. So that he would take his skills and try to make it with a solo album was to me far from surprising. The only question was what kind of a tactic he would take when going in to this album. Was he going to make an instrumental album? Would he invite a bunch of guests to help him? Would the music be the same as in Firewind or completely different?

Most of the questions were answered almost instantly. Gus G. has invited several guests to this album (Mats Levén, David Ellefson, Jeff Scott Soto, and more) and the album is a mix of both normal and instrumental songs. However, I am not sure about what musical direction this album wants to take. It has a serious issue with split personalities, just like with Slash's self titled debut (although it isn't as bad as it was on "Slash"). It mixes between pure rock ("My Will Be Done", "Just Can't Let Go"), some metal core ("I Am The Fire", "Long Way Down") and some technical instrumentals ("Vengeance", "Terrified"). There is no red line that connects the tracks together, which makes "I Am The Fire" to a sprawling album. The only thing that was really missing is a power metal track, which surprised me that there were none on this album.

There aren't many tracks that impresses me, but the ones that does also shows Gus's qualities with the guitar. The opener (and first single) "My Will Be Done" has a good memorable rock riff and the two part solo is both technical and flows good with the song. The two instrumental tracks ("Vengeance" and "Terrified") are both nice songs that feels well composed and does not contain too much of the good stuff. I also enjoy "Just Can't Let Go" that shows that Gus also know how to play a slower song were the riffing does not take over.

It is when the album goes to more modern metal where Gus G. loses the edge. The title track, who also includes the entire band Devour The Day, is just a generic modern rock song that could as well have been performed by any American wannabe metal band. We also have "Long Way Down" in this category, but it is not as bad as "I Am The Fire", but it is not good either. Alexia Rodriguez may have a decent voice, but listening to this track is an overall boring experience. You have heard this song before, and you damn sure will hear it again soon enough.

If Gus G. ought to be making more solo records, I feel that it would be wise for him to do what Slash did, assemble a permanent crew to help him with the song, not just invite a bunch of guest artists here and there. Because stability is the one thing that "I Am The Fire" is missing, and a stable line-up would solve that problem. Even if the album shows Gus G.'s versatility as a song writer and guitar player, it is not enough to make it lift up to the higher altitudes. So "I Am The Fire" is a decent start for a possible solo career for the virtuoso from Greece, but it makes me longing for a new Firewind record rather than its follow up.

Songs worthy of recognition: My Will Be Done, Vengeance, Just Can't Let Go

Rating: 5/10 Dreamkeepers

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