7/6/2007 - Review by: Etiam
Firewind - Allegiance - 2006 - Century Media Records
With those forebears as the primary reference point, it’s also unsurprising to find that ‘Allegiance’s songwriting (and not just the soloing) leans heavily on the 80’s traditional metal and hard rock approach. Firewind have always blended those two with their modern power metal core, but rarely have they strayed so far from their origin as they do here. And so it follows in predictable completion of that 80’s metal pattern that sometimes Firewind’s engine rips and sometimes it putters, though at no point does ‘Allegiance’ entirely stall. Songs that succeed—the title track, ‘Ready To Strike’, ‘Till The End Of Time’—are those that draw mostly from Saxon, Iron Savior, even a little Gamma Ray, while songs that do not—‘Deliverance’, ‘The Essence’, ‘Where Do We Go From Here? —end up redolent of late-era Scorpions or Survivor.
Because the entirety of ‘Allegiance’ follows the exact same formula (intro riff/verse/chorus/verse/chorus/solo/chorus repeat), pressure mounts inexorably on each following track to maintain a high level of interest and find new ways to avoid monotony. While a good handful of songs are unabashedly fun, towards the album’s end things becomes more frustrating; the decent enough ‘Where Do We Go From Here?’, for example, ends up sounding more like a muzak transcription of the end of ‘Sweet Child O’Mine’ than a true, energizing power metal song.
With that critique constantly lurking, even Gus G.’s torrid solos, the fresh voice of Apollo (ex-Time Requiem), and a superb production job cannot fully bring ‘Allegiance’ up to the level of its members’ talents. However, in the end, it manages to be a safe purchase for fans of the band and makes for “great driving music,” (as one peer put it), which for many power metal fans is all that really matters.
8/31/2006 - Review by: Eric Compton
Firewind - Allegiance - 2006 - Century Media
I was a huge supporter of the band's last release "Forged By Fire", ranking it near the top of my "who's who" list for 2005. I will go on record and say this new album is a far superior product and is hands down the best release of the young band's career. This is a mammoth sound beast that is both diverse and seasoned, while still retaining enough true heavy metal breath to satisfy even the most die-hard of fans.
The band charge out of the gate with title track "Allegiance", braced with a steady, anthem styled chorus sure to shake bone, skull, and sidewalk. "Insanity" follows with frantic shred work from Gus, backed by a catchy chorus that doesn't alienate Gus's fast playing. The band's first single, "Falling To Pieces", is a stirring hard rock odyssey that fits the modern edge of bands like Edenbridge and Lacuna Coil while not delving into those weak guitar rumblings. Gus G. is in full command here and really understands the bridge between commercial accessibility and the need to fuel the fires of heavy metal fanatics. The 80's enthusiasts will absolutely love "Ready To Strike" while more modern day rockers will appreciate the male/female vocal exchange on "Breaking The Silence". Interesting choices for me are the Amorphis styled "Deliverance" and the Impellitterri styled axegrinder "Till The End Of Time".
Bottom Line - "Allegiance" is the perfect modern day metal affair, really digging deep into traditional roots, stirring guitar frenzies, and today's cutting edge commercial dishes. Hats off to Gus G. for understanding the needs of all headbangers. Overall this is another solid album of the year candidate! And jeers to Century Media for putting this album on the back burner stateside until early '07.
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