Firewind – Firewind Review

Holdeneye approaches Steel Druhm apprehensively.

Holdeneye: Sir, might I possibly listen to that Firewind promo you have?

Steel Druhm: It is not right to take the family’s bread and toss it to the dogs.

Holdeneye: Yes it is, Lord. Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.

Steel Druhm: N00b, you have great faith! Your request is granted!

And the promo was dropped at that moment…

While I’m not intimately familiar with the vast majority of Firewind’s discography, entries like debut Between Heaven and Hell, 2010’s Days of Defiance, and 2017’s Immortals have all impressed me in one way or another. When I first got my guitar, Gus G. was the darling of the guitar magazine world after being selected for the prestigious role of being Ozzy’s solo axeman. But it’s his work on Dream Evil’s debut Dragonslayer — a record that happens to be one of my favorite heavy/power releases of all time — that cements him upon a nostalgic throne in my metal heart. Needless to say, when the promo for Firewind’s latest release rolled off of Lord Protector Steel Druhm‘s crowded review table, I couldn’t help but snatch it up.

It’s always curious when a band releases a self-titled album later into their career. It generally signifies a change of direction or a newfound commitment to the band’s established sound. While certainly not a great departure from records past, this one finds Firewind returning to a simpler formula — where Immortals leaned towards epic power metal, Firewind dials down the speed a bit and dials up the classic heavy metal to such an extent that I imagine Uncle Ronnie Dio is smiling down upon Gus G. from his place upon the thrones of heaven and hell. Focused on pleasing their fans that happen to be on the carnivore diet, this version of Firewind brings the beef through crunchy riffs and the gravelly-throated vocals of new addition Herbie Langhans of Sinbreed fame. Langhans’ performance makes me Jørny, baby, and complements the music extremely well, often reminding me of the gritty heft of the post-Udo-era Accept records.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Firewind is that it doesn’t sound like a platform meant to display the skill of a virtuoso. The songs come first, and Gus G.’s playing serves to simply enhance their strength. Take single “Rising Fire” for example. While containing oodles of nifty licks and a classic shred solo, it comes across first and foremost as a simple rocker — the kind of track you blast while driving with the windows down on a sunny day. While all eleven tracks fall into what I’d call “anthem” territory, there’s a satisfying amount of variety. “Space Cowboy” and “Perfect Strangers” follow the hard rock example of “Rising Fire,” while “Devour,” “All My Life,” and “Orbitual Sunrise” put the power in power metal and “Longing to Know You” and “Break Away” — the latter featuring some chill-inducing shredding — land with epic and emotional payloads.

The sound on Firewind falls in line with another former Gus G. project release from this year. Über loud and crunchy guitars lead the way, but this should not surprise anyone who has even casually followed this shredder’s career. A solid collection of songs is bolstered by Langhans voice, becoming a thoroughly enjoyable record that is easy to leave on repeat throughout the day. If you’re lactose intolerant, you might find yourself tempted to skip the saccharin ballad “Longing to Know You” (I happen to enjoy it immensely) but other than that, I can heartily recommend everything here to fans of music that blurs the lines between heavy metal and hard rock. Check out “Devour,” “Rising Fire,” “Orbitual Sunrise,” “Break Away,” and “Perfect Strangers” to see if this newly invigorated and streamlined version of Firewind might be for you.

Firewind doesn’t suffer from a lack of editing like some other Firewind releases and might be the first album from the band that I’ve loved front to back. These are the sort of uplifting anthems we need at a time when the world seems to be on the expressway to Hell, and we can safely add this to the heap of quality traditional heavy metal albums released thus far in 2020.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: AFM Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: May 15th, 2020

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