I’m sure older readers remember the quote, “You had me at hello” from the romantic drama Jerry Maguire. I don’t like the movie, but that’s the phrase I first thought I got when I started listening to the latest self-titled album by Firewind. I knew this entire record was gold the moment I finished the opening track. “Firewind” is the band’s ninth studio album and a solid followup to 2017’s concept album, “Immortals.” “Firewind” will be released on May 15 through AFM records.
The band has undergone some major changes in the last year; they parted ways with guitarist/keyboardist Bob Katsionis and vocalist Henning Basse. Fans have gotten used to seeing new vocalists fairly regularly, but their new singer is not just any replacement. Firewind has joined with Herbie Langhans (Sinbreed, Avantasia, Radiant, Seventh Avenue, amongst others). Gus G, the mastermind behind the band has recently said, “With Herbie, I feel like we’re doing a relaunch of the original Firewind cast, because his singing style bears a certain resemblance to that of Stephen Fredrick, our first vocalist.” You can expect to hear Herbie’s vocals range from aggressive growls to his powerful tenor and everything in between. The band couldn’t have chosen a better frontman.
As I mentioned already, the opening track, “Welcome to the Empire” is pure delight. It starts out with a low ambiance, some fingerpicking, and a guitar solo that ascends the fretboard until it unleashes a brutal riff that never lets up. The first single, “Rising Fire” is a strong example of what a perfect metal song should be: heavy riffs, crazy solos, thundering drums, and vocals that give you goosebumps. The official music video premiered on March 20th and has received a positive response from fans. The first several tracks will bring a familiarity to past records while simultaneously showcasing newfound energy in the band.
The band explored different writing styles as is evident on songs like “Overdrive,” and “Longing to Know You” Both songs are harnessed with a slightly slower tempo and experiment with the band’s diverse creativity. “Overdrive” brings back the nostalgic feel of heavy metal’s origins and “Longing to Know You” is the perfect ballad to show off Herbie’s compelling vocals.
I absolutely love the style of Firewind’s drummer Johan Nunez. He uses a killer beat to intro “Kill the Pain,” brands impressive footwork on “Devour” and his use of the offbeat crash cymbal in “Space Cowboy,” and “Perfect Strangers” is something rarely heard in metal songs. Petros Christodoulidis’s bass gallops along in “Orbitual Sunrise” and “All My Life,” and I love his slide in the intro to the previously mentioned, “Space Cowboy.” “Firewind” is chock full of heavy tones and groovy riffs and guitarist Gus G is the force behind it all. His solos on every song are second to none.
This Greek band has traveled the world charming listeners for the last twenty-two years. Despite constant lineup changes, fans can always expect incredible music from this highly underrated metal band and this self-titled album is no exception. “Firewind” is a must-have for your collection.