Sound — 9
Firewind's return to the music scene with their 6th studio release The Premonition is anything if not aptly named. The Premonition means a vision of things to come, and as far as Firewind's progression as a band, they are getting truly close to a mainstream metal breakthrough. The Premonition comes just over a year after the bands US debut album Allegiance and keeps to Firewind's sound while adding twists and turns that create a very enjoyable and memorable album. But where does The Premonition really take the listener? The albums opening track Into the Fire begins with a slow acoustic build into a much harder driving riff provided by Gus G. Gus G's playing on The Premonition is nothing sort of inspiring, each song is full of driving leads and solo's that will make even the most hardened shredders take notice. Gus's guitar is just as uniquely complimented by Bob Katsionis's incredible keyboard leads and solo sections. Surprisingly Bob's solo sections are some of the most impressive aspects when they are really put into practice, songs such as Maniac and Head Up High show just the talent within Firewind. However unlikely it may seem the bands first single off The Premonition is a song called Mercenary Man, which feels like an unlikely winner as it doesn't truly showcase the power of Firewind's members. However it is the most catchy song on the CD and thusly is a good choice as it is the most radio friendly of the albums songs. The song's intro in itself is quite memorable with a quick drum lead into impressive leads by Gus G. The song is just as well brought together by Apollo Papathansio's lyrical flare and delivery, the slow palm muted riffs put together compliment Apollo as he leads the listener into a truly strong chorus build. Overall the song is very well put together if you don't mind missing out on blistering guitar and keyboard leads. The Premonition keeps Firewind in there own category of music, not quite rock, not quite metal, but has the best of both worlds. Truly powerful leads mixed with strong lyrical delivery will make The Premonition stay in your stereos for months to come, if only to attempt some of Gus G's guitar acrobatics a few times.
Lyrics — 8
Apollo Papathansio's voice has a quality to it that is unmistakable within each song on The Premonition. Some songs do have rather lack luster lyrics, but Apollo has such a way with letting you hear the words that it makes them seem much more like they belong to the song. In the debut single Mercenary Man the lead chorus lyrics All I see is death outside my window, all I need is in my broken mind, I will catch my own wounded shadow, just before we leave it all behind the lyrics themselves paint an image in the listeners mind of a man so consumed by the horrors he has been through that all he is trying to do is find a little piece of sanity, before it is too late. Show just the depth that can go into Firewind's lyrical fury.
Overall Impression — 8
The Premonition as stated earlier is a vision of things to come, what will we see out of Firewind over the coming years? I would expect much more of the same passion and fury that they deliver on this album. With strong tracks such as Remembered with one of the most furious lead riffs on the album assaulting the listener from word go. To the soft and somber feelings evoked by My Loneliness pulling you into one of the most emotionally charged solos by Gus G on the album. Every track on The Premonition has a good quality about it. However there is one song that is both a hit and a miss. Firewind picked a very unlikely song to cover on The Premonition comes from the 1980s movie Flashdance the band selected the track Maniac and as interesting of a choice it does have some solid aspects to it. Though I don't believe that the song itself could be done in this fashion it doesn't fall flat. Apollo's lyrical delivery however could not truly save this song, and felt downright out of place at times. What does the song do well however? Two of the most impressive solos on the album as strange as that may seem. The first solo comes from Bob on the keyboard and leads into an inspired bit of shredding from Gus G to cap the song at a very climatic place. Gus even throws in an outro solo complete with some classic 1980s whammy bar action. Overall, Firewind has reached new grounds on The Premonition taking on their classic sound with driving guitar solos and leads while still having mainstream friendly qualities that may allow Firewind to truly hit home with an American audience.