Riding upon golden steeds, the Greek power metal legends have returned with a new and exciting release in Immortals, which chronicles a historical battle between the Greek and Persian empire by which the Greek army were able to hold back a near endless onslaught of Persian warriors for an astonishing seven days! Though the Greek army were eventually overpowered by the massive amount of Persian soldiers, this record celebrates their efforts and it does it tremendously. You know folks, I don’t really know why the last two Ozzy Osbourne records didn’t do so well; but judging from the playing here, it is certainly not Gus G’s fault. Let’s be honest here – his solo albums were a bit hit or miss and most of us have been more or less patiently waiting on this day to finally come, which I can assure you was definitely not a wait in vain. Immortals is every bit the return to form that Firewind fans wanted, and it will stand among the band’s most celebrated releases. If you’re a fan of their more thunderous and virtuosic early years, then you’re going to absolutely love this one.
Even as a reviewer, A new Firewind release was major news to me as I wouldn’t have ever expected a new recording from these guys – especially with guitar god Gus G. still in tow. Yet even though Gus G. is here and delivering some of his best leads and solos since the early eras; we do have a new frontman in the form of Henning Basse (ex-Metalium, Sons Of Seasons) who took a while for me to get used to in the very beginning. I hadn’t read the press leaflet at first, so I wasn’t expecting such a shock – but I can say that in all honesty, Basse is a name to be reckoned with here. In fact, I’m beginning to wonder if I can even count all of the hits on this one. We have of course, the crushing single “Ode To Leonidas” which is very indicative of the rest of the album (albeit in a very good way) and we also have the pumping “Back On The Throne” as well as the “starts off as a ballad, but then pounds your face off” nature of “Live By The Sword.” Even the soft-hearted “Lady Of 1000 Sorrows” is a real killer here, folks. Immortals is the kind of record that hits so hard and heavy, with such memorable chorus matter (that is literally floating through my head as I write this review) that I wouldn’t mind listening to the disc another four or five times tonight at least. There are literally songs that made me want to jump directly out of my chair and pretend that I had a microphone as if I was a teenager again, acting out a live performance here in my home. This is one record that you’re definitely gonna want to pick up when it releases on January 20th.
For those of you who maybe aren’t so cool with the keyboard theatrics, there are still some synths and keyboards in places, but Immortals retains it’s metal edge and never even so much as thinks about sinking into synth-rock. You’re not getting any “Maniac” covers here folks, (even though I admittedly like that one) which is probably the overall best thing I can say about this album. To state it bluntly, “Firewind is coming out with a new album, it is a metal album and it’ll remind you of their best work.” I can say that it is a very refreshing and wonderful thing to see such a heavy-hitter and possible album of the year contender coming this soon into 2017, which says a great deal already. I can’t recall there being too many notable power metal albums last year, so Immortals could not have come any sooner. And folks, I need to add once again – the playing. The playing is just fantastic. Gus G. has outdone himself this time around, and I don’t think I’ve heard playing this virtuosic and intricate since the days of Burning Earth. Even the bonus track “Vision Of Tomorrow” is greatly worth hearing and highly recommended listening. So skip the jewel case, if you can. Trust me, this one’s no B-Side. Gus G. also tears it up on this one, so you’re getting even more of a great performance by opting for that digipack. It’s kind of odd that they didn’t do a fan-pack with this one, because this is the kind of record that you would actually want memorabilia with, like a replica helmet or something at least.
In all honesty, saying anything more about this awesome performance would be overkill, and if you’re reading this review and are still on the shelf, just take my advice and pick it up. I really don’t know how power metal fans wouldn’t be able to enjoy this – and I’m not saying that as a selling point. This is more or less the quintessential power metal disc and you’re going to hear that pretty early on. Immortals has everything that I want from the genre and then some, so get your hands on this pulse-pounding and fiery soundtrack to war.