Sound — 8
Bone crushing, heavy, yet melodic riffs are ever present in Firewind's brand of heavy metal. It's worked for them in the past, so well in fact they decided to stick with the line-up of "Allegiance", their previous album. However, there isn't really any sort of "innovation" going on musically though. It's seems as the though Firewind has developed a "sonic formula" of sorts. However, history teaches us that if a band becomes too attached to a formula, they eventually become boring. All hope is far from lost though, Firewind seems to be drifting from their power/thrash combo of the past. The band seems to be including elements of "modern hard rock" as Gus G. once described the album.
Lyrics — 6
Lyrics have never been Firewind's area of expertise. They are not terrible at all tough. But the lyrics are often predictable and feel like you've heard them a thousand times before. They don't make you really think about their meaning very hard. The lyrics do fit the music well though. But if it weren't for lead singer "Apollo" the lyrics would be useless. Apollo gives the lyrics the power and emotion they need to succeed in compliance to the music. While his style may not fit the aggression of many firewind tunes all that well, he is possibly the most skilled singer firewind has ever had.
Overall Impression — 7
Comparing it to the band's past efforts, I would not consider this a great improvement. However, it is far from a failure. Those new to firewind will be blown away, but those who have been fans of the band since the times of "Burning Earth" and "Forged by Fire" would probably agree that Gus and his crew are capable of better. I think the reasoning for this is Apollo, he is just to different in vocal style from past vocalists such as Stephen and Chitral. Because of this, I have a "premonition" that Firewind's style will gradually transform into a sound much more like Germany's "Edguy"'s recent albums. My top 3. of the album: 01.Angel's Forgive Me: awesome keyboard work and vocals, best song on the album to my ears. 02.Mercenary Man: catchy chorus and great solo, This is song is also a possible sign of change in firewind's musical direction. Which is good or bad, depending on opinion. 03.Maniac: cover song from the movie "flashdance", who knew it would make such a killer metal song? Guitars, Melody and overall songwriting are good but not fantastic. It's going to take more getting used to Apollo and the lyrics could improve. But if you're a melodic metal fan, I totally recommend it. If I lost it though, I'd buy better CDs before I got this one again.