Sound — 8
When you gather together a group of extremely competent musicians like the ones in Firewind, you can pretty much guarantee polished, technically impressive results. So not surprisingly, the band's 5th studio album The Premonition rarely disappoints on the production value. While none of the songs will sound that out of the ordinary in terms of the power metal scene, they are also never disappointing thanks to some insanely good solos from guitarist Gus G. and keyboardist Bob Katsionis. The Premonition features the same lineup featured in the band's previous release Allegiance, and it was a wise decision on their part. The addition of drummer Mark Cross and vocalist Apollo Papathanasio has definitely enhanced what some people might call the main attraction, Gus G. It's true that Gus delivers some incredibly skilled solos, but the supporting members don't ever get hidden in the background. Papathanasio has a commanding presence, sounding a bit like David Coverdale fused with a touch of DragonForce's ZP Theart. The rhythm section is solid as well, tackling some tempos that at times approach speed metal, although there aren't too many moments where things are taken to that extreme on The Premonition. The album is chock full of hum-worthy songs, particularly the first single Mercenary Man. That particular track has the same type of big, epic chorus like Dragon force's Through The Fire And Flames, and it's easy to understand why Firewind selected it. Out of the 10 tracks, the most impressive song is actually the opener, Into The Fire, which delivers a variety of different musical sections and moods. It begins with some fantastic low guitar tones on the acoustic, eventually introduces building electric sounds, and then just explodes with high-tempo beats. Gus G. impresses right off the bat, with his solo work having a classical feel at times. One of the more interesting selections is the band's cover of Maniac, a song originally performed by Michael Sembello on the Flashdance soundtrack. It's surprisingly rather true to the '80s version (except for the solo), with the guitar element never overtaking the song. Keyboards deliver the intro line just as the original did, and the guitars don't ever really veer from the original in terms of the chorus and verse. Gus G's solo does get creative on the solo, which feels like a caffeinated version of the original. It was definitely a gutsy, interesting choice by Firewind, and it works well as a metal or pop song.
Lyrics — 8
There are some rather dramatic lyrical moments within The Premonition, and they bounce between being extremely positive and uplifting to dark and melancholy. Head Up High is a perfect example of the lighter side with lyrics such as, This is the time to change and make things right; This is the time to make it on your own; You'll never be yourself; Don't ever lose your pride. The Silent Code takes on a more depressing vibe with such lines as, We just obey the silent code; I'm sick and tired; We're floating in an endless flood. Firewind does take it to extremes, but Apollo's vocal delivery can sell most of the themes.
Overall Impression — 8
While The Premonition isn't too far of a departure from Firewind's last album, Gus G. and the boys have written some solid melodies to adorn the solo work. That's hugely refreshing, particularly considering that a lot of people might expect Gus G. and keyboardist Katsionis to just go off on 10-minute soloing tangents all the time. Don't worry, there are still plenty of solos, with one of the best being the scale-themed work in The Silent Code. But for the most part Firewind absolutely knows what's appropriate for a song and when to hold back, and that's a hugely respectable aspect to the band.