DECEMBER 23rd 2016

Review by Darin Wall

Gus G’s Firewind have been a mainstay on the international heavy metal circuit for years now, having been a band since 1998, having released 7 full length studio albums and one demo album.  Early 2017 will see the release of the band’s 8th full length studio effort titled Immortals, on which we hear the band walking the line between traditional classic old school heavy metal, power metal, and some symphonic metal elements at times.  When listening to this album, I was often reminded of many of the European melodic and power metal bands I listened to in the late 1990’s, including Axel Rudi Pell, Helloween, and some hints of Manowar at times.  The production of this album is big and bold.  It’s loud, polished, and all the instruments sit well together and are clearly audible and sounding good.  

The album kicks off with Hands of Time, which is a very classic sounding European power metal song.  Bombastic keyboard and guitar leads are all over the place, and the vocal hooks are super catchy, reminding me of Axel Rudi Pell’s singer Joey Gioelli.  We Defy follows up with a heavier, more modern sounding riff which leads into more big power metal style choruses.  The third track Ode To Leonidas starts off with a clean ballad like intro, and some narration reminiscent of Manowar songs like Defender.  The main riff to this song is classic old school ‘80s heavy metal, and the guitar solo here is particularly blistering.  Track 4 Back On The Throne is my favorite song on the album.  It’s a pure old school ripper in every way, with some cool keyboard parts, and a very memorable bridge that will be sure to get stadium and festival crowds chanting.  Live And Die By The Sword starts off with an acoustic guitar intro that’s accompanied by some really cool bass work.  This one has really catchy vocals throughout and huge gang vocal chants.  It was definitely engineered to go over well live.  War Of Ages is next, and it starts with some big punches, accents and keyboard melodies, and some lyrics that are about training to prepare for battle.  This song should be set to some sort of medieval Rocky Balboa type training montage.  This song didn't really do much for me personally.  Next up we have the always polarizing heavy metal ballad in Lady Of 1000 Sorrows. You either love em or you hate em.  Me personally, I love them when they are well executed, and this one is done fairly well.  It reminds me of Scorpions, Skid Row and Dio with the note selection and the way the vocals are sung.  It has just enough cheese to make it endearing but not enough to make it stink, so it works.  The title track Immortals is a quick 2 minute instrumental, which is an interesting choice for the title track but it’s kinda different so I dig it.  It’s two minute of scorching fret work and some bombastic rhythms.  A good point in the album to place it too. Warriors and Saints leans more towards the power metal side of things, with lots of dynamic switches between heavy and fast, and slow and mellow.  It’s not a bad song but it didn't really hold my attention.  Rise From The Ashes closes things out.  Again, it has big dynamic switches between verses and choruses, and some pretty cool drum and bass work on this track.  I was kinda hoping for a stronger track to finish things off but it’s still a solid tune.  There is also a bonus track called Visions Of Sorrow which is much more symphonic sounding than the other songs.  Chunky start/stop riffs and big epic keyboard parts.  I wasn't really digging this song, mostly because I don’t care for that style as much, but also to me it doesn't really flow with this album, but that’s probably why they offered it up as a bonus track, and as such it’s not a bad little extra thrown in there.

Overall this album is exactly what you expect from Firewind.  Classic metal riffs, crazy shredding from Gus G all over the place and some pretty intense keyboard playing, big epic vocals, all with a big polished production.  It doesn't change the game but it doesn’t disappoint either.  The songs are well written and recorded, the production is well laid out and fits the music, the songs flow fairly nicely together.  I felt the album started stronger than it finished, but there’s good consistency in the songs and they all stand up on their own.  Fans of the band and of the genre won't be disappointed by this album at all.