MGF Reviews Firewind – The Premonition

Firewind – The Premonition
Century Media (4/8/08)

Just when you thought power metal was dead and gone…

Led by guitarist Gus G. (Nightrage, Arch Enemy, Dream Evil)—who is slowly proving himself a worthy addition to the shortlist of guitar gods—Firewind offers up a heaping helping of power metal in all its epic glory.

Hailing from Greece, the band’s method of attack focuses around the driving force of Gus G.’s guitar work, offering up classic power metal with a European twist (there’s plenty of keyboard work to accompany the solos). The band offers a nice change of pace in a scene where the lines between subgenres—death metal, industrial and hardcore, most notably—are becoming increasingly blurred, it sticks to its guns and shines as a result. While a bulk of the attention goes to U.S.-based outfits for the most part, at least stateside, there’s this huge metal scene in Europe with exceptional bands cranking out album after album of killer material. Add Firewind to that list… and probably place the group somewhere near the top.

The band explodes out of the gate on The Premonition with “Into the Fire”, the longest song on the album. Talk about epic. There are soaring vocals, riffs galore, breakneck keyboarding and 100mph drumming and bass work. The band sound like Europe (yes, “The Final Countdown”) on steroids, mixed with newer In Flames, ’80s-era Queensrÿche and hints of older Anthrax and Megadeth thrown in for good measure. Actually… no, that really doesn’t do Firewind justice. Just crank “Into the Fire” and wait for around the four-minute mark—there’s this insane bridge of guitars and drums that gives way to a blistering solo; the keyboards enter the picture and then everything grinds to a bludgeoning halt of crushing bass and drums before the chorus kicks in again. It’s stuff like this that reminds long-time metal fans why they got into the scene to begin with.

It’d be hard for any band to follow-up after that opener, so they shift gears for a while and go with a more modern-rock approach, most notably on “Mercenary Man”, which sounded completely out of place on the first spin. But after a couple of listens, the song really starts to grow on you. (It seems a little subdued, the vocals much more straightforward for the most part, though Apollo Papathanasio does let loose toward the end.) The rest of the album sort of blends the two approaches.

While not quite as epic as some of its previous outings, Firewind still manages to put out a strong release. Basically, this is a classic power-metal album—soaring vocals, nothing too loud with plenty of melody, and enough riffs, solos and other various guitar mastery to satiate any metal lover’s appetite. The band’s done better, but that’s like saying Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night was good, but… well, you get the point.