UG Team, on january 31, 2007 3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Sound: Ah, the sweet sounds of symphonic guitar shredding. Gus G., the acclaimed 26-year-old guitarist from such bands like Nightrage and Mystic Prophecy, has finally decided to go full-time with the band Firewind and his decision was a wise one. While the band's US debut Allegiance could have been easily one long guitar solo with not much musicality underneath, it is surprisingly melodic and memorable.
Granted, from the content of the title track you might get the impression that Gus G. will be padding each song to the gills with solos, it's actually a fitting opener. The guitarist said that he intended for Allegiance to be a song that pretty much hits you in the face, and it succeeds in making most guitarists wish they had spent at least 5 to 6 more hours practicing each day. It's easily one of the most impressive tracks technically speaking. But even with the high technical quality, it still doesn't necessarily represent the most rock anthem-worthy cut. It's when the guitarist takes a step back a bit more that the best songwriting comes through.
The first single Falling To Pieces is more subtle with the guitars, and Firewind allows listeners the opportunity to hear its songwriting chops without any extra adornment. With vocalist Apollo Papathanasio's charismatic delivery and extreme range, the song will instantly have you humming along. There's a bridge-type section leading up to the chorus that is just incredible, featuring layered vocals (in a wide assortment of octave ranges) from Papathanasio that is just sends chills -- of the good kind.
It's hard to say if Firewind will appeal to the general rock crowd with its dramatic flavor, but the band shouldn't be pigeonholed into the epic metal genre. At least a few of the tracks could easily be rock radio tracks and recall a lot of the best metal hits from back in the '80s. There is definitely an 80s theme that flows throughout Allegiance, from the lightening fast guitar solos to the emotional, yet manly vocal delivery. There are some also killer keyboard lines from Bob Katsionis, who could one day be up there with the likes of Jordan Rudess of Dream Theater. // 9
Lyrics: Firewind takes another cue from the '80s with its lyrics, which have a flair for the dramatic. This is not to say that they are melodramatic (no songs about dragons or cauldrons of fire), but they definitely have more emotionally driven lyrics that recall bands like MSG or even Stratovarius.
In Till The End Of Time, you get a good sense of the themes throughout most of the tracks. Papathanasio sings, How can we make it through the night? This demon we must fight; Visions of hell within my mind; But we must carry on, carry on. There are a few tracks that do like to use those standard favorite images of demons and beasts, but the band never overdoes it and it doesn't ever get to be a distraction.
The lyrics are not the most original ones in most of the tracks, but it's actually kind of fun to hear words that are reminiscent of some of the classic '80s bands. It feels almost like an homage to the big hair metal days at times, and that should appeal to a lot of old school metal fans. // 8
Overall Impression: Firewind is a nice balance between various genres -- you've got a bit of epic metal, a little sprinkle of hair metal, and the talent of prog rockers. While many of the most talented guitarists on today's scene play metal that's a bit too heavy for radio, Firewind could actually be accessible for a wide range of audiences. There are moments when it almost feels too radio friendly if that is possible, but there are enough tracks that are unique and inspired that Firewind should be respected by fellow songwriters as well.
With the regular audio CD you'll also get a bonus video for the single Falling To Pieces, as well as a 17-minute documentary of the band. That's a big plus, particularly considering Firewind is a name that a lot of Americans aren't familiar with yet. While the documentary doesn't go extremely in-depth in terms of the band's songwriting style, it's still a great addition for fans.
Allegiance is a powerful introduction for Firewind and Gus G.'s ability as a guitarist if you're not familiar with any of the band's work in the past Considering the limitless number of solos that Gus could have laid down (he's the only remaining original member and has free reign), the man showed excellent restraint. There's plenty of incredible axe-grinding going on, but it's not just The Gus G. Show by any means. // 9
leeprechaun, on march 01, 2007 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: I ordered this CD over the internet after seeing Firewind open for Dragonforce, and it completly blew me away. They are one of the view modern bands to appear on the scene and stand out to me. They don't sound like a copy of another band, like you get nowadays; and they don't sound the same in all their songs. On this CD you get a big range of different styles mixed in: a nice in-your-face thrash-style opener (Allegiance), the epic Deliverance, a Satriani/Vai/Gary Moore style instrumental (Before the Storm), some classic rock (Ready to Strike), and so on. And the band sounds fantastic. Catchy medlodies on the guitar ond keyboards. All the sound quality is up to date - I particularly like the guitar sound, Gus G has a very nice tone (not to mention some excellent technique in all his playing). For all the people who like music to be impressive, all these musicians are very talented in their fields. Of all Gus G's bands, his chosen one to progress with is Firewind and a good decision, and the latest Firewind lineup is undoubtedly the best. // 10
Lyrics: The new singer Appollo is a very good singer with a unique voice and a stunning range. When I them playing live, he makes a dam good frontman too; he reminds of Bruce Dickinson from Iron Maiden. The songs on this album ALL have big choruses that will have the words stuck in your head, and that is what you listen to a song for. These are all sing-along tunes. As for lyrics, I believe most of the band had a crack at this so there is a good mix of different styles of words. Their songs are not all about the same thing either which is common in some bands. // 10
Overall Impression: I love this album from start to finish, one of the most flawless albums I have heard in a while. I can't pick out any favourite songs, but there are some standout tracks, see above in the SOUND. I would buy this album again if lost or stolen. If you like guitar-based music or anything like that but you dislike the screaming and growling that you get in some new metal, you won't find it here. I would say this album is a must for everyone who looks on this site, but particularly for fans of: Iron Maiden, Dragonforce, Dream Theatre, Alter Bridge, Joe Satriani, etc. An excellent album that's bound to be a classic if Firewind get big. // 10
aenimafist, on april 21, 2008 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: Firewind is an intriguing band in that they are described as being power metal but hey don't really have a really prominent keyboard sound all the time. This is not a complaint, merely an observation. Gus G. is an amazing guitarist and he come up with the coolest licks ever. He does these tiny little solos after certain sections of songs and it adds color to the music. Allegiance is a good opening track because people like songs written in 12/8. Falling to Pieces was the very first song I tabbed and submitted to UG. I still need to add the solo though. // 10
Lyrics: Gus wrote the lyrics for most of the songs and usually when guitarists write the lyrics, they aren't the best in the world. Gus holds his own though while Apollo deals out the words, writing some of them himself. The drummer wrote all of the song Dreamchaser and I thought that was a standout track. I think Apollo's best moment on the album is Till the End of Time. But he really shines on Ready to Strike as well. // 9
Overall Impression: This is a good place to start for the person who is new to metal. Firewind are fast, agressive, and still have a soft spot. The acoustic intro to Deliverence verifies that. Gus really shows off his skills on te six-string thing but personally I don't think skill is what makes a guitarist good as much as it is what a guitarist can write. The best songs on here are Allegience, Falling To Pieces, Ready To Strike, Till The End Of Time, and Deliverence. // 9