1. Welcome To The Empire
3. Rising Fire
4. Break Away
5. Orbitual Sunrise
6. Longing To Know You
7. Perfect Stranger
9. All My Life
10. Space Cowboy
11. Kill The Pain
'Firewind' is an album that really knows what it’s doing from the moment it starts. This Greek Power Metal band have been around for more than twenty years and I can easily see why, as this album sets forth with such vigour and excitement that it is extremely clear that the band are confident, technically brilliant and determined.
“Welcome To The Empire” is a good opener, and “Devour” (the second track) definitely ups the momentum of the album, but for me it is track three that really gets things going properly. That track, “Rising Fire”, is the first track on the album that gets my head banging from the moment it starts. Such a simple yet satisfying way to open a song, this song is an absolute banger with the riff pumping throughout and some spectacularly satisfying guitar fills going on alongside it.
The high-energy portion of the album continues with “Break Away”, a song that I may like even more than “Rising Fire”. It’s got a little variety, with the start of the verse being different to the rest of the song that surrounds it, and consequentially it feels like it is taking you on a journey rather than just a pedal to the metal speed through from beginning to end, which is a perfectly timed change after the first three tracks.
While the rest of the album definitely has lots of good points, it never quite reaches the heights of the “Rising Fire” / “Break Away” one-two punch again. That’s not to say that the rest of the album isn’t worth a listen, not at all. “Orbitual Sunrise” is a well-crafted, slower track and highlights from the second half of the album include “All My Life”, “Kill The Pain” and the anthemic “Overdrive”, which has definitely been written to be easy to sing-along with at gigs.
One thing I really do want to point out is the superb musicianship shown across this album. All of the musicians are exceedingly good and what they do – and you can tell this band was founded by a guitarist, because some of this lead guitar work is up there with the greats, as even songs I enjoyed less have solos and fills that are out of this world. Having said that, it is also a great pleasure to discover that only two songs on this album are over five minutes – normally with a Power Metal band who have such an emphasis on technically brilliant guitar work you may expect over-long songs, and the band very wisely avoid this to ensure everything is tight and well-crafted.
It’s just a shame that some of the songs aren’t quite up to the standard of the best of the album. Not that there’s anything wrong with most of them, but they don’t quite have the “grab you by the collar and shake you” excitement of tracks three and four. However, for me, the weakest song (by far) is the ballad. Metal Ballads are incredibly hard to get right (I don’t know if everyone else feels like that, or if I’m just fussy), but they often run the risk of being boring, and “Longing To Know You” just doesn’t work for me at all.
The only other issue I have with this album is a very personal one – it feels over-produced. I know there is a fine line and that this is one of those areas where different people have different tastes, but I like a little edginess in my music, some emotion throughout the band, and it does just feel as if this album has been polished so much that the edges have been completely removed.
But these are minor quibbles. Three songs from this (Rising Fire, Break Away and Kill The Pain) have made it into my annual “Songs of the year” playlist, and I will be returning to the full album in the future I’m sure. Firewind have created an album that will keep you excited, energised and (most importantly) keep your head banging for the majority of it’s 47 minute runtime. This album is beautifully made, beautifully played and it comes with a recommendation from me that it is definitely worth your time.
Website - www.firewind.gr
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/firewindofficial/
Review - Michael Braunton