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Album Reviews : Firewind – Immortals

By on February 16, 2017

firewindimmportalscdFive years ago Firewind released Few Against Many and while this was an album I was internally hoping that it was going to be an album that could give Firewind the fame and fortune that they deserve. That unfortunately wasn’t to be, and while Few Against Many was a solid album, it failed to catch the same expectations that I, and many other fans had for it. It wasn’t a bad album by any stretch of the imagination, but just seemed to be missing that final component to make it an instant classic. Fast forward five years and Firewind have finally returned with Immortals, a concept album with lyrical themes based on Greek mythology that finally delivers that knockout punch to any of the band’s naysayers.

I do want to preface this by saying that I didn’t know that this was a concept album when I started listening to it. I just dived straight in, ears pricked at the ready to listen to a guitar masterclass, but the more that I listened to each song, the more it became apparent that this was a concept album. In that regard Firewind have done a kick-ass job because not only does each song tell its own story, but it is part of a building block that goes into the overall Immortals story. While other band’s try to overtly reinforce their concept, I never found the underlying themes that Firewind used to be overbearing.

From the onset of the first riff you instantly feel drawn into the energy of this album. Where Few Against Many took some time to ease listeners into the album, Immortals starts off with the tremendous Hands of Time which holistically set the tone for the album by bounding out the gates like the flames from hades. This was everything I could have wanted with the first track and it acted as the perfect precursor for what was to come on the album. Followed deftly by We Defy, another rocketing track gives the listener little time to catch themselves as the chase of the guitar riff continues.

Ode to Leonidas is a rousing battle anthem that begins quite subtly with a spoken word introduction, and instantly invokes images of the Spartan’s efforts to hold the hot gates at the battle of Thermopylae in the movie 300. About the only thing this track is missing is Gerard Butler screaming ‘THIS IS SPARTAAAAA’, but it’s such a complete piece of music that it becomes a stand out as an addictive track on the album.

While these are only the first three tracks they really set up the pace for the album which is littered with neck-breakers, battle anthems and brilliant compositions that form together to provide a very definitive flow on the album. Where this album really set itself apart from being just another guitar shredfest is in the interplay between the keys/samples and guitar sections. While Firewind has always been exceptional at capturing this trading duel, there seems like a more comprehensive connection between the two instruments in this instance – almost like a synchronicity which has the key sections bleed effortlessly into the opening of the guitar passages on almost every single song that give each track a fluidity. This is a difficult thing to balance with very few bands treading this path with as much success as you would find on Immortals.

It would be a crime to review a Firewind album without discussing Gus G’s guitar work, so I’ll keep this brief – Gus G is an amazing guitarist, and even if you have been following his work for some time you will still find things to be impressed about on Immortals. Yes there is still the relative degree of showmanship that you have come to expect, but there is also a level of depth and growth which I felt had been left behind on the band’s last album. While Gus G is as incredible as always, it’s also worth noting that the vocal performance on this record feels significantly stronger than the band has had before. Utilising Henning Basse for the first time, each word sung across all the songs has an importance and energy behind it that is delivered impeccably by Basse. This performance helps round out the musicianship perfectly and feels like the first release for Firewind in a significantly long time where all components of the band seem to work well together and fit.

Immortals is a rollercoaster that you need to try at least once if for nothing other than the initial rush. This album is a definitive Firewind album through and through and is a marked improvement over their previous efforts. With a sound that borders some pretty classic Stratovarius tracks this is definitely an album that power metal fans or guitar nuts are going to absolutely love getting their hands on and is an incredible example of what a few years of growth can do to a band.

Band: Firewind
Album: Immortals
Year: 2017
Genre: Power Metal
Label: Century Media Records
Origin: Greece