Veteran hard rock band Firewind has been entertaining audiences for more than two decades with its own brand of hard rock and power metal. The band, founded by famed guitarist Gus G. has released eight albums, all of which have helped to earn the band legions of fans the world over. That is even with what seems like constant lineup changes throughout the course of its nearly 25 year life. Now with the forthcoming release of its ninth album Friday, the band’s success will continue even longer. The self-titled release is a work that will appeal to the band’s longtime fans just as much as old school hard rock and metal fans in general. That is proven in part through the record’s musical arrangements, which will be addressed more at length shortly. The sequencing of the arrangements adds even more impact to this record. It will be discussed a little later. The record’s production rounds out its most important elements, and will be discussed later, too. Each item noted here is important in its own right to the whole of the album. All things considered, they make Firewind without argument, one of the best of this year’s new hard rock and metal albums.
Firewind’s new forthcoming elf-titled album – its ninth album to date – is a powerful new offering from the veteran hard rock/power metal outfit. It is one of those rare records that would make it so easy for audiences to take in from start to finish without skipping even one song. From beginning to end, audiences are taken back to Firewind’s early days while also giving audiences plenty of hints of more modern work and mixing in influences from the likes of Judas Priest and others along the way. Gus G. puts his full range of talent on display throughout the album, putting out riffs that are precise and cutting from one song to the next, and solos that few other guitarists could rival. New front man Herbie Langhans’ vocal delivery is so full of its own fire (pardon the pun), adding even more to the impact of the album’s arrangements. Johan Nunez’s time keeping is solid in its own right throughout the record, while also adding in just the right number and kind of flares with the cymbal crashes and fills. Bassist Petros Christodoulidis’ work couples with Gus G’s melodies to create some very rich harmonies in each song. Even as the album reaches the ballad that makes up its midpoint – ‘Longing To Know You’ — each musician’s talent is just as much on display as ever, proving the group can do more than just play fast and loud. The string arrangement incorporated into the overall work adds to that song’s impact in the bigger picture of the album. Between that “reserved” moment and the record’s higher-energy moments, the record in whole is to be applauded if only for the musical arrangements that display so much talent from the band members and that offer so much engagement and entertainment. Luckily, the arrangements are just one part of what makes this record such a hard-hitting new presentation from Firewind. The record’s sequencing strengthens the band’s new record even more.
Firewind’s sequencing is important to address because of its own ability to keep listeners engaged and entertained. Over the course of the 47-minute record, audiences will note that it is comprised of three very distinct segments. The first segment runs from the opener up until the aforementioned ballad that serves as a break point of sorts for the album. That break point is the album’s second segment. It immediately gives way to the song’s third segment, whose energy is just as powerful as that in the album’s first segment. What is so interesting to note in examining all three of the record’s segments is that in the first and third segments, the energies remain extremely high. It doesn’t lift at any point in either segment. From the album’s opener – ‘Welcome to the Empire’ – right up to ‘Orbitual Sunrise,’ the energy never lets up at all. What does change is the stylistic approach and lyrical content within each song. So it’s not like the album gradually decreases its energy as it reaches its midpoint. Rather, that midpoint is just a brief moment that allows listeners to catch their breath, and it is just brief enough, as the record’s energy picks right back up in ‘Perfect Strangers.’ The band keeps listeners pumping their fists and putting their horns up high from that point right to the album’s end. Simply put, the album’s sequencing shows it has two settings – high and low. There is no middle ground. The closest that the album comes to that middle ground even begins to come is in ‘Overdrive,’ which comes immediately after ‘Perfect Strangers.’ Even as the energy in the song is slightly pulled back, the song is still heavy in its own right, providing just the briefest break in the album’s energy while keeping things moving forward. Again, the short and simple here is that the album’s sequencing of the songs does just as much as the songs themselves to keep listeners engaged and entertained. Those responsible for the sequencing are to be commended in their own right for their work. Between the constantly changing of stylistic approaches in the songs to the stable energy throughout, the sequencing clearly plays its own crucial role to the whole of the album. It still is not the last of the record’s most important elements. He record’s overall production and mixing puts the finishing touch to its presentation.
The production and mixing are key to the record’s presentation because if not for that work, the songs would have been little more than a bunch of masses of metal noise. Instead, audiences get such clear balance between each musician’s part in each song. The result is 11 songs that each stand on their own musical merits. The rapid fire work that is ‘Devour’ is a prime example of the payoff of that attention to detail. Gus G.’s machine gun-fast shredding is a powerhouse to say the absolute least. Had that been allowed to take center stage, none of his band mates would have had the opportunity to shine. Luckily, that didn’t happen. Nunez gets the chance to display his expert ability behind the kit. Langhans’ powerhouse operatic vocal ability also gets to shine, thanks to the production here, while Christodoulidis’ low end is added just subtly enough, fleshing out the arrangement even more. ‘Longing To Know You’ is another example of the importance of the record’s production and mixing. The keyboard line in here serves as the song’s center point, ad shines so well against the drums, bass and even the guitar, which get their own attention, but keep their place as “supporting lines” here. Everything is handled so well here that the overall impact is a deeply moving work. ‘Space Cowboy’ is another example of the importance of the record’s production and mixing. There is a lot going on here, between the drums, the vocals, the guitars and vocals. It’s not the full on fist pumper that much of the record’s other work is, but there is still much happening. Gus G and Langhans seem like they are competing for the limelight, but in reality, the two work together so well. He gets his moment in the solos while Christodoulidis provides the primary support in the verses. For everything that is going on here, the whole comes together quite well to make this a mainstream style work that audiences will enjoy just as much as the other noted songs and the rest of the album’s works. Keeping all of this in mind, the album’s production and mixing and its impact on the album’s general effect plays its own crucial role to the whole of Firewind. When it is considered along with the record’s songs and their sequencing, the whole of these elements makes Firewind a presentation that every hard rock and metal purist will agree is deserving of being called one of this year’s top new titles in said categories.
Firewind’s ninth new album is a work that shows this band still has quite a fire under its collective backside. That is proven in part through the songs that make up the album’s body. They will keep listeners engaged and entertained in their own right. The sequencing of those songs adds even more power to the record, as they keep the record’s energy stable while switching up the songs’ stylistic approaches from one to the next. The production and mixing that went into the record rounds out its most important elements, as it ensures each of the band members gets his own moment in the limelight throughout the record’s body. All three noted items are important in their own way to the whole of this album. All things considered, they make Firewind one of the year’s top new hard rock and metal albums. It will be available Friday. More information on the album is available online along with the album’s latest news at:
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