Gus G. is the hardest working man in metal. Not only has he been the lead guitar player in Ozzy Osbourne’s solo band since 2009, he has also established a successful solo career. His primary focus though is Firewind. They have been a key player in the heavy/power metal community since the release of their debut back in 2002.
The latest release Immortals is their eighth full-length album and once again finds a new vocalist fronting the band. Henning Basse, the ex lead singer from Metalium and the current touring singer for Gus G.’s solo outfit, is now handling the vocal duties for Firewind. Incredibly, Basse is now the fifth singer that has fronted Firewind in the studio.
Immortals is a concept album and Firewind’s first attempt at composing this style. The concept is based on Greek mythology and the Battle of Thermeopylae and Salamis in 480 BC during the second Persian invasion of Greece. This is also the plot of the movie 300 that was released in 2007.
Basse’s melodic powerful vocals fit along perfectly with Gus’ uptempo riffs. Basse sounds like ex-Black Sabbath singer Tony Martin in spots, as his melodies are soaring and incredibly melodic.
They hit their stride on the dynamic “Ode to Leonidas.” It builds with a spoken word intro before exploding into Judas Priest territory. The chorus will be stuck in your head and have you raising your fist and singing along in no time.
Opener “Hand Of Time,” “Back On The Throne” and “War Of Ages” all move along with quick tempos and feature the best the band has to offer. Gus G. is a phenomenal guitar player, as shown as he shreds throughout the release. The title track is an instrumental where Gus perfectly executes classically inspired guitar leads blended with a slower emotional feel.
Immortals was engineered, mixed and mastered by Dennis Ward of Unisonic and Pink Cream 69 fame. He has captured the band effectively as the production is spot on. In addition, Ward also co-wrote the album with Gus.
Immortals is another solid offering from Firewind. On par with their previous releases, the material is centered on memorable melodies and Gus’ blazing guitar work. Firewind do a nice job of blending heavy metal sensibilities into their power metal framework for some added diversity.
I can’t help hearing some riffs and wishing they were held back for a new Ozzy solo album. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be in the cards for him as he isn’t stockpiling riffs with the multitude of releases he has been a part of since taking over the Ozzy job.
(Released January 20th, 2017 on AFM Records)