Guitarist Gus G.’s solo debut I Am The Fire is an album that any hard rock and rock purist must hear at least once in 2014. This record exhibits elements of the award-winning guitarist’s entire career over the course of its dozen total tracks. From more modern sounding material similar to the likes of Three Days Grace to older classic Iron Maiden style shredding to anything in between, G. (a.k.a. Kostas Karamitroudis) offers his listeners a musical melting pot on this record. Add in guest appearances from fellow greats such as Billy Sheehan and David Ellefson among many others, and audiences get a record that more than deserves a spot on any critic’s year-end lists of the best new rock and/or hard rock records.
I Am The Fire wastes no time grabbing the attention of its audiences. That is exhibited in the album’s opener, ‘My Will Be Done.’ The song’s first few bars hint at what’s about to come before it really launches with its full, driving energy. And the vocals of singer Mats Leven (Therion, Krux, Candlemass) add even more of a punch to the song. Leven sings against G.’s full throttle guitar work, “I hit the gas out on the road/And I don’t care about tomorrow/I see the places that you don’t/I will command and you will follow.” Those first few lines are classic rock anthem in every sense of the term. And they perfectly complement the song’s energy. They exude the attitude and energy of so many classic anthems that have come before. Leven goes on in the song’s chorus singing, “Why not get on it/Life depends on it/I’m gonna survive /I felt your disgust/In myself I trust/I am right/You are wrong/My will be done.” That presents even more of that defiant, self-assured attitude exhibited in so many far more classic rock songs. And it doesn’t stop there, either as listeners will hear throughout the song’s remaining verses. Having that attitude and energy exhibited so expertly throughout this song makes ‘My Will Be Done’ the perfect choice with which to open I Am The Fire.
The classic rock and roll attitude and energy crafted and released in the opener of I Am The Fire made that song the perfect choice with which to open the album. Just as welcome an addition to this album is the first of the album’s two instrumental tracks, ‘Vengeance.’ Coming less than halfway through the album, Gus G. really gets the chance to shine in this track. Audiences can take their pick in terms of comparisons. The veteran guitarist shows why he is more than deserving of having his name next to any number of other guitar greats. He shows just as much why he was the obvious choice to take over guitar duties for Ozzy Osbourne on his 2010 album Scream. Audiences will especially enjoy this song because it bridges so well, the classic shredding style of so many veteran guitarists and that of more modern rock. It is one more well-chosen addition to the record as a whole.
For all of the intense energy contained throughout the songs on I Am The Fire, Gus G. does give listeners some more pulled back moments, too. Case in point: ‘Long Way Down.’ Eyes Set To Kill vocalist Alexia Rodriguez handles vocal duties on this far deeper and emotional song. If one were to hear this song without knowing Rodriguez was handling vocal duties, one would almost swear it was Evanesence singer Amy Lee with Gus G. and the rest of the musicians on hand for the song sounding like the rest of Evanesence. She does quite the job of capturing the song’s emotion as she sings, “Nobody’s perfect/Is it really worth it/To let this go to waste/Just let me break away/Break away/Release my tension/Nothing left between the ledge and the ground/Take away/Take away/My regression/I’m on the edge/Another step/It’s a long way down.” Obviously, these lyrics are meant in an entirely metaphorical sense. She’s not actually singing about a subject jumping to one’s own death. Most people likely would already know this. But sadly, there are those that take things far too seriously even today. So it necessitates that being pointed out. The lyrics, it would seem, are meant to illustrate one’s own personal inner turmoil and how that turmoil is ripping said subject apart inside. Yes, it’s a standard lyrical topic. But the manner in which Rodriguez and Karamitroudis capture the song’s emotion is what makes it well worth the listen. It is of course just one more of so many songs on I Am The Fire that makes this album one that every rock and hard rock purist should experience at least once before 2014 ends. Gus G.’s European fans will get to hear his new music live as he kicks off his “”Unity 1” tour tomorrow, March 7th with Uli Jon Roth, Jorn Lande and Mats Leven. The six-date tour begins in Kerkyra, Greece tomorrow and winds down in Athens next Wednesday, March 12th in Athens, Greece.
The “Unity 1” tour winds down a little less than a week before the release of I Am The Fire. Fans don’t have to wait to get the album, though. It can be pre-ordered online now via Century Media’s online store at http://www.centurymedia.com/artist.aspx?IdArtist=715. Fans can get more information on I Am The Fire, tour dates and more online at http://www.gusgofficial.com and http://www.facebook.com/officialgusg. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.