Review Summary: What is mostly average, yet catchy, instrumentation is saved heroically by the amazingly strong vocals of Apollo Papathanasio. This turns out to be a surprise for 2008.
The realm of power metal has been one of easy predictions. The tempo is supposed to be fast paced and the guitars are supposed to be playing at one hundred miles an hour. The vocalist is supposed to have a higher tone in his voice. More recently, (the past ten years or so) keyboards have also played a major role in the experience of power metal. Every now and then, a band comes along and brings a refreshing mood to the whole genre. This band is Firewind.
Firewind started out as a band in 1998. This was the brain child of guitarist Gus G. At first, it took the side project as Gus was working with Dream Evil. As soon as Gus left the band, Firewind really took off. With the release of their first three albums, Gus really put his flagship band in the confines of typical, yet bland and boring power metal. There wasn’t really any innovation to the music and each album had a decent tune or two. In 2006 though, Firewind got their fourth vocalist in Apollo Papathanasio. Allegiance rleased that year, and Firewind showed that potential they built inside of themselves. The prime example is the fantastic Breaking the Silence. So after hearing Allegiance at the end of last year, I was looking forward to their new album which was to be released in March of 08. When that time rolled around and I listened to it on my mp3 player, I wasn’t that blown away. Two weeks later, and dozens of multiple listens, The Premonition
has proven to me why it is one of the best records of the year.
Listening closely to this record, some may be baffled on why this is receiving a 4. The guitars aren’t the most amazing thing ever; neither are the rest of the instruments. What sticks out though, is the vocals of Apollo. His smooth, yet unyielding, vocals make him one of the best in this genre. Another positive is that this record didn’t sound at all cheesy. I don’t feel like a dork when I listen to this record. A main reasoning behind that is the lyrical content. Take a look at the opening of Circle of Life
for a brief second.
Tears of rage
Have fallen of my face
I cannot hide
My dreams keep holding me tight”
This shows a vulnerability not seen much in power metal. Add Apollo’s strong emotion he exuberates throughout the song, and you got one of the better songs on the album. Every single performance seems like he is giving 110%. In Remember
he gives his best vocal performance to date with Firewind. The inspirational lyrics and the changes from a lower tone spoken verse to that high emotional state give me chills and goose bumps everytime.
None of this would be possible without the direction of Gus G. He writes the majority of the songs, and does he know how to write catchy power metal songs. There is no negativity towards the catchiness of any of the songs on here. Each song is either fully catchy, or contains a moment that made my eyebrows rise in interest. Take single Head Up High
for example. That great opening guitar riff is present throughout the whole song. The song has a great attractive chorus as well. It even has a solo that shows Dragonforce how it’s done to play guitar fast, but effective.
After all of these positives, there has to be a negative, and there is one. Everything is catchy and produced and executed well, but it doesn’t have the it
factor as the other classic albums out there. Some riffs sound rehashed and there is a song that I personally don’t like in The Silent Code
. Apollo gives his usual great performance, but it’s just meh. Thankfully that song is positioned in between Circle of Life
and the magnificent cover of Maniac
. Looking at the tracklisting, this may seem out of place, but in fact it isn’t. At first, I didn’t think of Flashdance
when I thought of Firewind, but they perform is brilliantly. Babis Katsionis gets his biggest role on the entire album (it’s 80s synth pop for crying out loud) and shows that he can be a major part of a song. Life Forclosed
ends this record in a slow tempo affair. The soaring riffs of Gus to add with the heavenly vocals of Apollo give The Premonition a nice swan song
Firewind’s The Premonition
is one of my favorite records of 2008. This has everything a power metal fan would drool over. The guitars play a respectable part because Gus G knows that putting the guitars at the center isn’t always a good thing. Every now and then we get a solo, and when it does occur, it’s nice. The rest of the instruments play a rhythm role (exception of Maniac), and that is normal for power metal. The highlight is easily Apollo. His powerful vocal ability embraces the entire music into one big fixation and kicks the living snot out of the vocals of ZP Theart and Fabio Lionne. Power Metal is all about being powerful, epic, and metal, this shows all three traits.