Guitarist shows why he split other high profile metal acts
After years of playing a part in groups such as Dream Evil, Mystic Prophecy, Nightrage and Arch Enemy (As a touring guitarist only), Greek guitarist Gus G. (Who's real name is Kostas Karamitroudis) decided to step aside from his previous gigs and devote his full attention on his own group Firewind. In his effort to ensure Firewind become a solidified band rather than just another side project; Gus G. relocated the entire group to Athens (Greece), which again saw another slight change of line-up.
Aside from Gus G., bassist Petros Christo and keyboardist Bob Katsionis remain from the line-up on 2005's Forged By Fire album, with new vocalist Apollo Papathanasio (Ex-Time Requiem, Gardenian, Meduza and Gardenian) stepping in to take over from Chitral 'Chity' Somapala, and drummer Mark Cross (Ex-Helloween, Metalium, Winters Bane, At Vance and Nightfall) taking over from Stian Kristoffersen. Much like the changes that occurred prior to their last album, the latest shuffled in members has had a profound effect on Firewind's fourth album Allegiance, with the band incorporating a greater hard rock sound into their traditional power metal sound of old.
Opening up with the title track Allegiance, Gus G. is quick to dazzle with some quick shredding before settling into a huge catchy riff, while Papathanasio proves to be the perfect replacement for Somapala with a voice that adds a little more character to Gus G.'s power metal vision with his wide ranging ability and his slightly gruffer style. Insanity keeps up the energy of the opening track with some incredible moments of flash from Gus G. on the six strings and Papathanasio's twist of pace in the pre-choruses, while the album's lead off single (And first promotional video clip) Falling To Pieces shows off the band's move into the hard rock realm with its huge melodic/anthem like choruses and Papathanasio's lush layered vocal performance.
The hard rock sound continues through to the Whitesnake (Still Of The Night) sounding Ready To Strike and The Essence, while Breaking The Silence (Featuring a guest appearance from Swedish singer/songwriter Tara Ullaeus) and the slower/acoustic guitar enhanced Deliverance show a slight departure from what you would normally expect from the band, but only in a good way. For more tradition fare, tracks such as the fast paced Till The End Of Time, Dreamchaser, the slow instrumental Before The Storm (Which reminds me of Gary Moore's Parisienne Walkways) and the powerful closing track Where Do We Go From Here? are offered up from the group.
Overall, Allegiance is another stunning effort from Firewind, and an album that doesn't follow the same clichéd path most within the power metal scene tread down. Gus G. may have left a few questioning his decision to devote his time to Firewind exclusively, but with one listen to Allegiance, the answer is rather obvious.
(Century Media Records/Stomp Records Distribution)