Long running Greek power metal warriors Firewind have always been a reliable second-string act thanks to the capable stewardship of axe God, Gus G. When news broke in 2009 that he was to be Ozzy‘s new guitar wiz, I wondered if he’d be able to keep his first love alive on the side. Immortals marks the third Firewind platter since he joined with metal’s original maniac, so it seems the man can multi-task just fine. It also marks the first album with new singer Henning Basse on board (ex-Metalium, ex-Brainstorm). Henning replaces the very capable Apollo Papathanasio (Spiritual Beggars) and I’ll admit I was a bit leery when I heard of the switch. Though I enjoyed his work on Metalium, I found him to be a very generic power metal vocalist and I worried he might be the wrong choice to replace the highly versatile Apollo. After two weeks with Immortals, I’m happy to report there is nothing to fear except power metal itself.

Opener “Hands of Time” gets the party started right with a very Stratovarius-like zip and punch. The energy is high, melody is king and Henning gives the music a fist-in-the-air bravado that really completes the package well. Gus G’s impressive noodling and soloing is gamely challenged by key whiz Bob Katsionis (Serious Black) and the whole thing is like a fresh cheese enchilada. The band sticks to this winning blueprint with rousing chest thumpers like “We Defy” and “Live and Die by the Sword” and the fun level is kept high while the music remains speedy and exuberant.

The big guilty pleasure is the over-sized and bombastic “Ode to Leonidas,” which I suppose almost has to be larger-than-life when done by a Greek band. It’s the classic Euro-power song with silly lyrics and overblown theatrics, but it works and the chorus is undeniably catchy. Gus G. immolates everything with his furious fret-work and things just screams METAL! They switch things up nicely for “Back on the Throne” which almost feels like a Jorn number, full of hard rock bluster and bluesy swagger. “War of Ages” has a strong Kamelot vibe running through it’s pirate shirt and satin trousers and there’s more than a whiff of Dragonforce in the guitar overkill on “Warriors and Saints,” but the writing keeps things immediate, catchy and testosterone-filled.

There isn’t a bad cut to bog down the flow and even the semi-ballad “Lady of 1,000 Sorrows” works well. The 44 minute length is perfect and the mix is fine, allowing the guitar and keyboards to duel lustily with each other.

Gus G. always impresses with his guitar prowess and it’s made abundantly clear the man is a unholy shred monster. More impressive however is his increasingly solid writing chops. While I’ve enjoyed all the Firewind albums to some extent, his writing was at times inconsistent. Immortals shows him in peak writing form, crafting 9 rock solid cuts of power metal glory. Henning Basse also impresses with an impassioned and gritty performance. He gives the material a tough, hard-boiled edge that really packs a punch and this may be the best he’s sounded on an album. He keeps the Euro-power inspired songs from sounding too Helloweenie and light, and even though he’s singing about swords, sandals and serpents, he makes it feel heavy and sincere.

I wasn’t really expecting all that much from Immortals, but I’ve been spinning it a whole lot and really enjoying it. In fact, this might be my favorite Firewind record of all. If you want some catchy power with high-level chops and a commitment to guitar excess, this is Sparta! Now bask in the glory of the below video as you braid your back hair into freedom knots.


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Century Media
Websites: firewind.gr/2013/home | facebook.com/firewindofficial
Releases Worldwide: January 20th, 2017

 

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  • a glass o’ milk

    I have just noticed, that the title says “Immortdls”!

    • It’s all Greek to us.

      • a glass o’ milk

        just like the latest VADER-album, “The SmrirS”

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      D’s are the new A’s. Metal needs to innovate beyond the old, worn out use of V’s for U’s

  • Treble Yell

    You just couldn’t help including a Jorn mention, Steel.

    • It’s in my contract.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        With Satan?

        • krisdaschwab912

          Doesn’t matter who.

  • Maksym Nikitin

    Henning Basse also sang for Sons of Seasons, which I like quite a bit.

    • CarvedInStone

      He is a great singer. Looking back he should’ve taken the spot in Brainstorm when he had the chance. But I suppose nobody could’ve known that Metalium would fizzle out as fast as it did. I hope that he will have more success with Firewind than he had with his old band.

  • antitayyip

    their instrumentals are awesome.

  • New vocalist fits in nicely, cheesy “300” ripoff video, and an album with a Sparta concept.

    Damn, Can’t remember the last time I was so hype for a Firewind release, but this sounds like a win

  • Oscar Albretsen

    I could totally get into these guys. That video rules!

  • Dead1

    Surprise, surprise it’s another Helloween clone. At least some of it harkens to mid-late 1990s Helloween but it’s still derivative and extremely predictable and I’d rather the mid-late 1990s Helloween.

  • ArtifeX

    Haven’t heard anything from Firewind since they hired Shitty Somapala for their third album. Never gave a chance to the material with Apollo, I suppose I just lost interest in this band. When I wanted to listen to some FW I just spinned the first two albums with Stephen Fredrick. That said, the embed sounds GREAT, I’m gonna give this one a chance.

    Good review as always Steel D, I just don’t get the “and the whole thing is like a fresh cheese enchilada” metaphor. I’m from Mexico and enchiladas are very relevant to us. It’s quite a sensitive topic.

    • I mean it’s cheesy but delicious.

      • ArtifeX

        I’m relieved, the enchilada mafia was already targeting you. If you ever come to Morelia (central Mexico) I’ll invite you the best enchiladas you’ll ever have.

      • AnnieK13

        I like cheese!

  • BernBern17

    Liking the sound of this. Everything is better drenched in cheese.

  • I can’t love or hate this as it’s just so nothing. Plus yet another awful metal music video.

  • André Snyde Lopes

    Man, Few Against Many was one of the worst power metal records I have ever heard… Not sure I’m down for this one.

  • herrschobel

    that video ! jajajaja you are greek … we get it… gotta play god of war now..

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Good to hear about Gus G’s increasingly solid writing chops. Maybe he has a good Ozzy album on him.

  • Jason

    That video is kinda like watching a low budget remake of 300.

  • CarvedInStone

    Nice to hear that they are doing well again. Wasn’t a fan of “Few Against Many” and “Days Of Defiance”. Seems like the break he took to focus on his solo career really did him some good. That and having Dennis Ward as a co-writer for the entire album. Let’s hope they can keep the good work up.

  • VikingSchism

    I’ve just found my next power metal album to check out. I need to listen to way more power metal, so far only got around to Gloryhammer, Blind Guardian, and some others like Sabaton (how I found this site), Hammerfall, and Dragonforce

    • [not a Dr]

      Try Iron Maiden.
      And Manowar.

      • VikingSchism

        Oh, I do love a bit of Maiden. The Trooper is probably the first metal song I ever heard

    • BernBern17

      Definitely check out some Iced Earth. Either Night of the Stormrider or Something Wicked This Way Comes.

    • Captain Intenso

      Primal Fear would be my top recommend, Kamelot if you like it a bit more melodic/experimental, Stratovarious and Nostrodameus are great Hammerfall-era contemporaries, Persuader & Savage Circus (singer is spitting vocal twin of Blind Guardian), Steel Attack, Iron Savior and if you want to go classic Manowar’s 70s/80s output and Riot. Hope that helps! I fucking love power metal, I don’t give a damn how cliche it is…

  • Wilhelm

    I might like it better with better mastering – the guitars don’t sound bad but the drums are weak and cardboard-y. It still sounds too typical, they are just following the euro power metal formula. We sorely need another mid-90’s Iced Earth or Blind Guardian, this shit doesn’t cut it.

    • Dead1

      Totally agree.
      Of all of metal’s subgenres power metal is in the darkest place. It’s completely stuck in it’s own clichés and completely unable to do anything different.
      And Firewind is great proof of that.

  • defjam

    To all the embedded video haters: we Greeks can present our history the way we like it. Plus, Gus G still remains a cool, down to earth guy.

  • Weirwolfe

    Ummm…anyone else hear Electric Eye? Pretty darn close.

    • Tofu muncher

      I know right? I want to check out the rest of the album, but should I be wary of more Priest-inspired riff and/or harmonies?

      • Weirwolfe

        Probably. That one is pretty blatant.

  • PLB

    I think I have would have liked it more if I had not seen the video. Looked like some college student end of semester project. With that being said, I’ll check the record at some point when I need a power metal fix as I have always liked firewind

  • Aguy

    Not my favorite, but I heartily approve of their using a vocalist who doesn’t have vice grips on his nuts. Even power metal shouldn’t double as a dogwhistle.

  • James Utvandraren

    Much better than expected from a mediocre run-of-the mill power metal outfit with the industry standard revolving door of generic vocalists.

    On a side-note; the video editor didn’t really do a very good job syncing the guitar solo to the actual playing. If it wasn’t Gus G, I probably wouldn’t even have pointed it out, but with his guitar playing being the focal point of the group and all that…

    All in all, I just bought the “Leonidas” track from iTunes, but probably won’t listen to it again. That about sums it up for me.

  • jersey devil

    That totally rocked, I admit it.