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Firewind | ‘Immortals’

Back after a five year hiatus from their last effort, the Greek power metal stalwarts Firewind return with their eighth full length.

It’s a concept album about Greek history, specifically The Battle of Thermopylae, Spartans and all that subject matter that the Greek metal bands just love recycling to us.

For me, Firewind always kind of sat on the fringes of power metal greatness, never quite reaching it, but coming close with ‘Burning Earth’.

For the majority of their discography they seemed to suffer from playing it far too safe and being all too predictable, with actual solid songwriting often being eschewed to make room for Gus G’s flamboyant roller-coaster of guitar playing.

Fair enough I get that it is solely his band, he can do whatever the fuck he likes, but still, technical wizardry and flashy arpeggios do not always a good song make.

So how does ‘Immortals’ hold up then? Considering how busy the band have been in the last few years with other projects, Gus jet-setting across the globe with Ozzy Osbourne, and long time singer Apollo being replaced by ex-Metalium vocalist Henning Base, it’s pretty much like they never went away – and exactly what you’d expect from Firewind.

‘Hands of Time’ is a brilliant opener, your typical power metal ‘anthem’. Really steely, crunching guitar riffs, a kicking rhythm and catchy, sugary as fuck chorus, it’s basically all of what you want from them.

I actually get a significant Lost Horizon vibe from them on this album (only nowhere near as good) – vocalist Henning at times sounds very similar to the more aggressive side of Daniel Heiman.

Yet ‘Immortals’ suffers from the same problem many power metal albums do: they just completely blow their load on one song and kind of just seize up on auto-pilot for rest of the album.

‘Ode to Leonidas’ starts off with so much promise but kind of just fizzles out after the intro leaving you thinking ‘Is this it’? While ‘Back on the Throne’ and ‘Lady of 1000 Sorrows ‘ are just kind of awkward and exemplify my main grievance with the album – it threatens so much but never quite crosses that threshold, playing it safe and by the book.

The last two tracks ‘Warriors and Saints’ and ‘Rise from the Ashes’ do pick up the pace again and are certainly decent, again standard fare cascading Stratovarius-esque neo-classical guitar leads, breakneck drumming and sing along vocal lines.

Fans of the band should definitely check this out, but for those on the fence or those who aren’t fans it’s not going to change opinions. They’ve cemented their formula and they’re sticking to it.

It’s Firewind by numbers for the most part and aside from a few shining highlights here there it’s just restricted by its inconsistency and average songwriting.

3.1/5 – Chris Cowgill ::: 13/02/17

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