Firewind – “Firewind” (AFM Records)
Battle Helm Rating
Wow, talk about totally stoked – if you want to hear virtuoso guitar shredding within stirring melodic metal passion, then this 9th release from Firewind can only be for your heart!!! Formed by Greek guitar prodigy Gus G, who’s of course played with Ozzy and Dream Evil along with a string of guest appearances with Nightwish, Kamelot, Doro and Arch Enemy (to name but a few!), Firewind’s exciting mix of classic hard rock influenced by Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow and guitar power dexterity derived from fretboard luminaries like Uli Jon Roth can only be described as jaw dropping as well as soul captivating. After 2017’s concept work in “Immortals”, this self titled album takes it right back to the beginning, which is no coincidence given that new vocalist Herbie Langhans (Avantasia, Sinbreed, Radiant, Seventh Avenue etc) bears a certain resemblance in his singing style to that of Firewind’s first vocalist, Stephen Fredrick. That aside though, the main focus of the 11 tracks here is to maintain the sterling high standards in the quality of the compositions – and there is no disappointment whatsoever! Blazing in with fire and finesse on ‘Devour’, Johan Nunez’s double bass drums explode the overflowing melodies abundantly amid ballsy power riffing as the stirring vocals of Langhans proves why he’s been worth every penny in this stratospheric performance, while Gus G.’s solo is to rival any contender in the guitar god league – yes folks, it really is that awesome! On ‘Overdrive’ the moving melodic mix of crunching guitars and flowing keyboards exudes a definite Dio sound, especially when the soaring vocals of Langhans comes into play, taking this superb number to the magnificent singalong chorus, and once again graced by a blissful solo from the axe master himself on a song that despite its title, isn’t fast but certainly possesses abundant emotional depth. Keeping to the Blackmore / Dio style on ‘All My Life’, the heart breaking guitar flows in smoothly along to Langhans’s rock passion, building the red blooded crunching rock to its stirring climatic chorus before the neoclassical solo shredding par excellence simply blows your mind, as indeed does the rest of this top notch album that isn’t just a testimony to technicality, but also unbridled beauty worthy of Olympus itself.