Greek (mostly) Power Metallers Firewind are back with album number 7, Few Against Many on Century Media. Firewind is led, of course, by guitar wizard Gus G., his name being Americanized since we couldn’t be bothered to learn his real name, Kostas Karamitroudis. He is probably best known as being selected by Ozzy in 2009 to be his guitarist. A ringing endorsement for sure, but his work with Ozzy doesn’t touch what he does with his own band, as Gus is the primary songwriter (though not the only one) for Firewind and can better showcase his playing talents as well as demonstrate his ability to compose really good Power Metal tunes – and that is what we get here on Few Against Many.
On this album, Firewind once again deliver the goods, kicking off with Wall of Sound, (a term I certainly associate more with Devin Townsend), a nice, speedy, straight-forward Power Metal song. Gus G. is in full force with meaty riffs and blistering solos. The performer that really caught my ear on this album, though, is vocalist Apollo Papathanasio. His work with Firewind has been consistent since he joined them in 2005, but I think his vocals have never been stronger nor as passionate as on this album. Losing My Mind follows, starting off reminding me of Alice in Chains (then again during the chorus). The song, though, is a mid-paced strong Power Metal tune with a guitar/keyboard duel (guitar wins!). The title track is next, a good PM song, along with the next, The Undying Fire.
Another Dimension is an uptempo rocker with some Deep Purple-ish keyboards and a sort-of out of place chorus. It’s just a bit mellow and doesn’t fit the song for me. Of course, more guitar/keyboard dueling, with superior guitar work and nearly blast-beat speed drumming. Next they give us Glorious, a straight-ahead hard rock tune with nicely executed verses, a very melodic chorus, more 70s keyboard, and more wizardry from Gus (but nothing I would call noodling). Edge of a Dream is the ballad. Guest musicians Apocalyptica add a nice atmosphere here. By the way, if you have a chance to see Apocalyptica – go see them as they are much better live than their recordings. It’s a nice enough song, but not very metal.
Firewind come back with the hard rock sound on Destiny, including a speedy sing-along chorus. They bring back the metal on Long Gone Tomorrow, a mid-paced tune with excellent riffing and vocal work by Apollo. There is a bit of a Middle Eastern feel during the guitar solo, a nicely executed touch. No Heroes, No Sinners slows things down, but the riffing reminds me a bit of Dream Theater. It isn’t necessarily complicated, it just comes off as having Train of Thought era riffs. They keep it slow on Battleborn – not a bad song, just seems to drag on a bit, especially after another slower paced song. The closing track is an acoustic rehash of No Heroes, No Sinners. Well done, but sort of unneeded – I would have been content with one version or the other.
Here is Losing My Mind:
Firewind have given us a great Power Metal album in Few Against Many, but the first half is definitely stronger than the second. I think reordering the songs would have brought better balance to the album. I do enjoy Gus’ songwriting and Apollo gave an outstanding vocal performance making for an enjoyable experience. This album is a “should buy” for most metal fans and probably a must for those of us who enjoy Power Metal.
I hear the sound in a METAL way.