A few twists that help keep the flame alive
With Ozzy Osbourne taking a leave of absence from his solo career to work again with the reunited Black Sabbath in the studio, guitarist Gus G. has seized the opportunity to revisit his own project, Firewind, who return with their seventh full-length effort, Few Against Many.
Given the direction Firewind have taken over the course of their six former studio efforts, you could be forgiven for assuming that the Greek outfit would again deliver exactly what the fans want, and nothing more but the truth is that even though the band’s sound is still primarily founded in the tried and true heavy/power metal mould, Few Against Many does reveal a few differences from anything the band have offered up in the past - all of which help give Firewind’s latest release that something special that was missing on their last full-length release Days of Defiance (2010).
Firewind (who aside from G. comprise Spiritual Beggars vocalist Apollo Papathanasio, bassist Petros Christodoylidis, keyboardist/guitarist Babis Bob Katsionis and new drummer Jo Nunez of Nightrage fame) open up the album in a typically speedy fashion with the first single Wall of Sound, which boasts some great keyboards and drums mixed in perfectly with G.’s melodic lead runs. But while there’s a definite heavy metal/power metal template underpinning the whole track, there’s also a touch of classic rock running through Papathanasio’s vocal melodies, which give the song a sound that’s a little different from the standard Firewind fare.
G.’s introductory guitar work on the slower paced follow up track Losing My Mind has a slight Zakk Wylde/Alice In Chains feel to it, but soon picks up and charges ahead with a powerful classic rock effort with huge choruses, while the title track Few Against Many, the slowed down The Undying Fire and the anthem like/neo-classical tinged Another Dimension are fast paced blasts of pure power metal with huge soaring choruses - and the kind of songs that we’ve come to expect from the band.
Glorious is a catchy hard rocking effort that definitely stands out as a favourite, while the guest appearance from Finnish act Apocalyptica on the ballad Edge of a Dream is a daring experiment that will no doubt divide some fans. But for this critic, the collaboration works exceedingly well, with the songs darker vibe and Papathanasio’s performance coming across as a perfectly inspired match.
Getting back to familiar territory is the mid-paced power metal anthem Destiny and the classic rock/Spiritual Beggars like Long Gone Tomorrow, before finishing up the album with No Heroes, No Sinners, which not unlike the track that proceeded it, is solid 70’s inspired hard rock based.
Few Against Many has a bit of an adventurous sound for Firewind, and is the kind of album that will have some fans claiming that the band has strayed too far from the sound that brought them into prominence in the first place. But for those who are looking for something a little different from Firewind, check out this album. There may be a few tracks that don’t quite hit the mark, but overall, Firewind have enough on Few Against Many that proves the band aren’t interested in rehashing the past purely in the hope of maintaining their established fan base.
(Firewind Ltd./Century Media Records/E.M.I. Music Australia)