Well it's been 5 yeas since we last saw Firewind on these shores as Gus G was telling us from the stage last night. To be honest I thought he'd sort of given up on Firewind what with being Ozzy's guitarist and doing two solo albums and actually losing Apollo. It looked grim for Firewind fans to say the least but Gus and co are back and then some.
This Euro tour featured Swedes Manimal and fellow Greeks Scar of the Sun. I hadn't really heard of the opening band but they were quite good. A little different than the other two bands in style but that's ok as it serves as a good contrast. They had big heavy brooding sections with groove and melody and then regular thrashing parts. Not bad at all.
Manimal were up next and I was looking forward to their set immensely and they didn't disappoint. Their latest album is a killer slab of melodic heavy metal with piercing true metal vocals ala Halford. The singer even adopts the same look as in the lead video with the cats eye blue contacts in his eyes giving him a deranged psycho look. Rather cool and funny whilst prowling the stage and acting very metal! Their songs are very cool too with mid paced head banging parts and then blistering sections where the guitarist blazes the riffs out like a maniac.
The band was having a lot of fun on stage and was going down very well with the reasonably healthy Sunday night crowd of 250. They played songs from both their albums but the latest is where most of the action is based around. The band was very tight and the sound was great too. Pounding fun heavy metal from Manimal! Huge "Manimal! Manimal!" chants by the crowd at the end as well. I think the band was surprised how well they went down considering this is their debut in the UK.
At 9.20 sharp the Firewind boys took their spots as the intro to Ode To Leonidas was played and soon Gus launches into that mammoth opening riff and we're under way for a night of shredding power metal at it's best. I'd been looking forward to see how Henning Basse would fit in with the band as a live performer and he fitted like a glove. His voice is a little rougher than Apollo's live but he sings with a lot of power and is great at getting the crowd pumped up.
Gus spoke a fair bit in between the songs and thanked the crowd for not forgetting about his band and how glad they were that Henning accepted the call to be the new singer and what a fantastic job he's been doing. I think he was better suited to the newer material than the older classics but the fans were lapping it up anyway as if he's always been the singer. They played a lot of songs from the new album including the very catchy Back on the Throne with it's tasty riffs and solos.
A totally shredding World On Fire segued into the instrumental The Fire and The Fury with Gus showing off his shredding skills to the max. The sound mix was a little loud on the guitars which sometimes drowned out Henning's vocals and he strained to be heard above it all but he manfully soldiered on. Special mention for Bob Katsionis, the guys plays a mean guitar and handles keyboards too and does a great job playing second fiddle to Gussy's shredding overload.
It's good to have Firewind back. Immortals is a great album and they still have what it takes to be one of Europe's premier power metal outfits though they've probably lost a little of the ground that they made pre Gus joining Ozzy and losing Apollo. But with Basse proving his worth the band is still a force to be reckoned with in power metal circles.
Ode to Leonidas
Head Up High
Few Against Many
Between Heaven and Hell
Back on the Throne
Hands of Time
Wars of Ages
Lady of 1000 Sorrows
(With extended keyboard and guitar intro solos)
World on Fire
The Fire and the Fury
Live and Die by the Sword
Falling to Pieces