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FIREWIND Stand United

By Rob McNees, Vinyl Aficionado
Monday, April 1, 2024 @ 10:33 AM


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FIREWIND
Stand United

AFM Records




No matter what you think of Ozzy Osbourne (genius or burnout or something in between) you have to say without a shadow of a doubt that he has played with some of the legends of Heavy Metal guitar. Naturally that list starts with The Riff-Father himself, Tony Iommi. Of course there's Randy Rhoads, who, let's be honest, made Ozzy's solo career. Then there's Jake E. Lee, Zakk Wylde, NIGHT RANGER's Brad Gillis (who I thought did a kickass job on the BLACK SABBATH tribute album Ozzy put out after Randy's death), and Jerry Cantrell. And there's guitarists, like Joe Stump, who never appeared on any albums. And there's Greece's guitar god, Kostas Karamitroudis, who you might know as Gus G. He had the dubious honor of playing on Ozzy's 2010 album Scream. I say dubious because he replaced Zakk, who was let go and at the time it was a very unpopular decision. And that album itself didn't do very well sales-wise, but I don't think that has anything to do with Gus. While that might have been the claim to fame that put Gus on the map, he's been in several really amazing bands that well and truly deserve your attention if you've never heard them. They would include NIGHTRAGE, MYSTIC PROPHECY, DREAM EVIL, and of course his own band, FIREWIND. And a little trivia for you, the name of the band was named after the 2nd solo album from ex-SCORPIONS guitarist Uli John Roth, that being Fire Wind naturally. I have seen Gus live and I can tell you that the man is an exceptional guitar player, no doubt.

Let's briefly touch on the story of FIREWIND a bit, shall we? Formed in 1998, the first album, Between Heaven And Hell came out in 2002. They've released 13 albums, including three Live albums. And it has been a bit of a revolving door when it comes to members, the only constant being Gus himself. He's toured here in The Colonies multiple times with FIREWIN and as a solo artist as well. The latest slab of Power Metal histrionics is Stand United. And this go round, the band is Gus G, of course on guitar and keyboards to boot, Petros Christo on bass, Jo Nunez on drums, and Herbie Langhans on vocals. All solid players as you would expect.

The album itself is 10 tracks coming in at 44 minutes. Kicking off with "Salvation Day", one of the official videos, it has some 80's keys (when you hear it you'll get what I'm saying), uptempo and I air guitar extreme solo. You've got to know that the solos will be outstanding, The title track is a high octane pounder that also is an official video. Double kick drums by Jo, a real neckbreaker this is. My favorite tracks are usually the serious asskickers and this one pulls no punches. "Destiny Is Calling" has a driving riff and is also another official video, and another real favorite. This is one of those 'watch your speed if your driving' kinda tracks right there. "The Power Lies Within" slows things down with a solid riff and has a modern HELLOWEEN feel to it. Ripping solo by Gus as well.

"Come Undone" starts with those 80's keys but doesn't stay in that mode long as the song itself is a double bass pounder with an epic feeling chorus. Also a lyric video for this one out there. "Fallen Angel", which is another official video, is an uptempo banger and has a nice groove to it during the chorus. "Chains", which (surprise!) has a lyric video to go with it is a more subdued cut, and is probably the most commercial original track on the album. That's not to say it's some glam rock wimpout, but it shows the different layers that FIREWIND are capable of. "Land of Chaos" gets back to the riffing with a slower tempo but has a wicked groove midsong that reminds me a bit of the Legends OVERKILL. And that's always welcome in my world!!

There's one fun thing that Gus G has done occasionally throughout his career, and that's thrown a very Un-metal cover song on his solo or FIREWIND albums and took them to places the original artists would never have imagined. They've done "Maniac", from the movie Flashdance, Gus did "Money for Nothing" by DIRE STRAITS, and on Stand United we have "Talking In Your Sleep" by those color-coordinated 80's boppers THE ROMANTICS. A fairly faithful version although it's about a thousand times heavier than the original. If you've heard that version (and how could you not if you grew up in the 80's) then I think you'll smile and you might actually find yourself throwin' the horns while you sing it. A fun track! When album closer "Days of Grace" started I thought it was BLACK SABBATH's "Children Of The Sea". It was so similar for a brief moment. It has that same power ballad feel as well. Quite the epic track it should be said, and a powerful way to end the album.

If you've never heard FIREWIND before, but quality Euro Power Metal is your wheelhouse, give these cats a shot. I don't see how you wouldn't like great songs played by brilliant musicians. As mentioned above, FIREWIND have no less than 6 videos for this album, just like the good old days! Expand your musical palette a smidge. If you're already a FIREWIND fan, then you'll be stoked at the 2024 version. Play It Loud!

And for my Vinyl familia, there should be about 5 or 6 different color variations, depending on your continent and what website you order off of. So get crack-a-lackin'!!

4.0 Out Of 5 Skulls☠️☠️☠️☠️


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