Thursday, February 2, 2017

Firewind - Immortals (2017)

It has been a while since we heard something new from the Greek power house known as Firewind, and there are several reasons to why. First off, the leader of the group, guitarist Gus G., has been on other musical adventures, like releasing two solo records (both fairly mediocre), and touring with Ozzy Osbourne. A second reason is that the band has searched for a new singer since Apollo Papathanasio left in 2013 to focus more on Spiritual Beggars and his newly started solo project Apollo. So after five long years, Firewind is finally here to unveil "Immortals", the band's 8th full length album.

Let us start with the new singer Henning Basse, the former Brainstorm and current MaYaN singer is a man I have not too much of a relation with, not knowing his previous work all too well, but he is doing a killer job here. It still feels weird to not hear Apollo's epic voice accompany the rest of Firewind, but Henning's more rugged style is a good fit for the band, holding up on every classic Firewind sound angle. A good acquisition that will hopefully remain with the band for a long time.

The album itself is no shy guy in the corner either, it is a concept record about the classic battle between the gigantic Persian army and the smaller, but fiercer, army from Sparta. Yes, this is basically "300" in musical form, only without any slow motion or yellow tinted shimmer on the lens, but I do like the fact that Firewind is taking their history and brings it to life through metal. Only thing missing is that the album would be written in ancient Greek.

There are no changes though when it comes to the music, "Immortals" is jam packed with classic Firewind power that old fans will love. All the ingredients are there, including the fierce guitar playing of Gus G. that leads the charge like Leonidas led those 300 men to war, even if he does not steal as much of the spotlight as he usually does. It might be a little heavier than usual, but it could also be because of Henning's voice that it seems that way, but it still does not take away too much from the regular Firewind experience.

Without intending a pun, but there is a fire to this album that is really refreshing. The band is giving their all,delivering some passionate performances all across the board. Several songs in here have a good chance to becoming future classics, like the emotional "Live And Die By The Sword", the heavy "Back On The Throne", the speedy "Wars of Ages", or the epic "Ode To Leonidas", a song that is truly worthy of a Spartan king. While the second half have a hard time on withstanding the standard that the first half sets, "Immortals" still holds up very well throughout its length of 44 minutes, making it one of the more consistent Firewind record in some time.

The mini hiatus seems to have done Firewind good, because "Immortals" is a fierce power metal album that honors the history of the band's native country in an exciting way. The new singer fits well into the band, and also adds a rougher edge that will most certainly come in handy in future albums. It might be too early to say if this is my favourite Firewind record to date, but it is amongst the top, that is for sure. It may not be madness, but we all know that THIS IS FIREWIND!!!

Songs worthy of recognition: Ode To Leonidas,  Live And Die By The Sword, Wars of Ages

Rating: 8/10 Warriors and Saints

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