Firewind – Immortals
Label: AFM Records
Release Date: January 20, 2017
After a near five-year wait, Greece’s Firewind returns with its eighth studio album Immortals, which marks the band’s first thematic album. The concept for Immortals focuses on the battles of Thermopylae and Salamis during the second Persian invasion of Greece in 480 B.C. The album marks the Firewind debut for vocalist Henning Basse (Mayan, Orpheus Blade). Immortals finds guitarist Gus G. working with co-writer Dennis Ward (Pink Cream 69, Unisonic) on the album’s music. Ward also co-produces the album.
Immortals opens with “Hands of Time,” a track that sweeps in on a whirlwind of sonic elements fans expect of power metal and Firewind: Driving riffs from Gus G., freight-train stick and footwork from drummer Johan Nunez, and cinematic keyboard embellishments from Bob Katsionis. Petros Christo’s bass reverberates beneath it all keeping the song chugging along. Basse makes his vocal debut, adding a huge anthemic feel to it all with his gritty delivery. This is followed by the relentless tempo and battle born assault of “We Defy,” a track where Gus. G. highlights some of his dazzling fretwork.
The pace slows for the album’s second single “Ode to Leonidis,” speaks to the album’s classic concept, lending a spoken word intro to the storytelling. There is a bit of a nod, intended or otherwise, to Judas Priest’s “Electric Eye” on the main riff. Layered vocals and a hooky chorus set the table here. The song provides a moodier vibe after the speedy momentum of the album’s opening tracks.
“Back on the Throne” picks the tempo up again and finds Gus G. channeling vintage Jake E. Lee on the song’s primary riff. The track could easily have worked on Gus’s next album with Ozzy Osbourne, and resonates with an edgy swagger.
Acoustic guitar work blend’s with Basse’s emotive vocals to set the dramatic tone of the mid-paced rocker, “Live and Die by the Sword.” The song’s galloping breakdown recalls vintage Iron Maiden, and Gus once again shines on the track’s melodic solo.
Katsionis lends a bit of an electronic feel to the intro of “War of Ages,” which gives way to muscular riffing and another memorable chorus. Basse amps up the vocal attitude on this one, and the rhythm section of Christo and Nunez add some groove to the effort.
The only noticeable crack in the album’s foundation comes at the hands of the balladesque “Lady of 1000 Sorrows.” Basse’s vocal conviction is lacking on a song that reeks of filler. The song is not horrible, but it doesn’t have the power of the preceding tracks, and almost feels forced.
Nunez powers the band up again for the atmospheric and instrumental title track. This leads into the anthemic sweep of “Warriors and Saints,” a track that is forged from the same armor as the album opener, “Hands of Time.”
Christo steps into the foreground on the album closer “Rise from the Ashes,” which showcases some of the album’s loftier vocal harmonies. The song offers a more progressive feel than the rest of the record, but still maintains its power metal foundation.
For those with the deluxe or limited edition version of Immortals, the album also includes the titan-like “Vision of Tomorrow.” The track fits the continuity of the record perfectly and does not feel like a bonus track at all, so much so that it feels almost sinful to call it such.
Firewind’s long overdue return is at once cinematic, bruising, dynamic, and undeniably melodic. Immortals is a worthy successor to any of the band’s previous efforts and finds the band in its glorious element. Every member of Firewind delivers expertly, each ascending to the talents of the others without overstepping into the realms of overindulgence. Firewind rises to the occasion and leaves it all on the bloody battlefield with Immortals.