F U L L . R E V I E W S

Firewind - Forged In Fire - 2005 - Century Media

Track Listing
1. Kill To Live
2. Beware The Beast
3. Tyranny
4. The Forgotten Memory
5. Hateworld Hero
6. Escape From Tomorrow
7. Feast Of The Savages
8. Burn In Hell
9. Perished In Flames
10. Land Of Eternity
Stand aside citizens, make way for a new hero. I've discovered another hidden secret, another hole in the sky, however this time around this group of metal crusaders really isn't that big of a secret. For some reason through my endless surfing of all things dragon bound and castle kept I've missed Firewind, one of the best NEW power metal bands around. In fact I will go on record and say this brand new nugget may be one of the finest power metal releases of recent years, with "Forged In Fire" putting Firewind on the grand metal scale, seriously outweighing just about everyone in the business, a high class feat indeed considering the amount of quality power acts surfacing around the horn.

From the bushes to the stages, big bands keep pushing out big sounds, surrounded by masterful production jobs and the very best in crossing genres, something that successful acts like Edguy, Masterplan, and even Helloween have experimented with over the course of their last few records. Now Firewind are where they should be, at record number three where things are slightly more focused and direct. At this particular point I believe the band have reached that prime time status, making all of the big plays and following through with every step. Led by young guitar sensation Gus G., made famous through his efforts with Mystic Prophecy, Nightrage, and Dream Evil, Firewind lend a hand in taking power metal to that next level. The band just continues to progress and get better and better with each album. Staying out of the breeze so to speak, I've missed most of the time table for Firewind. Recently I picked up all three records at once, giving me the perfect chance to educate myself on the band's beginnings and exactly how far they have come.

"Forged In Fire" is probably miles beyond their 2002 debut "Between Heaven And Hell". With the starter record Gus and company seemed to have found that Malmsteen "Marching Out" vibe, really staying within the neo-classical guidelines and rarely going out of that particular niche. The debut is solid from top to bottom, but really Firewind are a different machine now, really going so much further in three years time. With their sophomore effort, "Burning Earth" (2003), the band seemed to have grown out of the traditional pattern, really setting up progressive yet powerful arrangements. Vocalist Stephen Fredrick was probably the biggest highlight for me on these two records, with his voice being the perfect classic symbol. Now Fredrick has moved on to another quality act, Kinrick, and Firewind have enlisted a brand new singer in Chity Somapala (Faro, Avalon). Somapala brings a more dynamic feel to this material, almost combining on the same hard rock feel of power crooners like Jorn Lande (Jorn, Masterplan) and Chris Bay (Freedom Call). His register allows him to mix it up like Halford or Scheepers, but at the same time he can hit Dio styled classic rumblings while still filling a Pretty Maids/Pink Cream 69 back alley rock venue.

This new release is just simply a freight train of huge, massive numbers, all completely done over the top in the most precise and fabulous production approach. The album was actually recorded in Greece, Germany, and Norway, produced by Gus G., and mastered by Fredrik Nordstrom. If that isn't enough to get you fired up, mix in some guest spots for Marty Friedman (Megadeth) and James Murphy (Testament, Death) combined with the furious riffage of Gus G. and you really get a whole new world here. This record is just completely mesmerizing for me, something that rarely comes along with this modern power metal. Sure bands like Brainstorm, Freedom Call, and Metalium continue to impress, but Firewind seem to have that special gift to combine the most straight forward of metal tradition and unity with that experimental edge to make something so much more. "Forged In Fire" is exactly that, a huge stride in the ways and methods of creating this modern genre, but never compromising the ideals and practices set down by metal's pounding heroes of the past.

You can look at bold, faster cuts like "Kill To Live" and "Escape From Tomorrow" as your perfect answer to the old school Euro power. But while those songs just simply roar off the tracks, other types of songs seem to go so much deeper. A track like "Hate World Hero" or "Burn In Hell" keeps that hard rock life, sort of like a growing Whitesnake into Sabbath type of mentality. Fans of huge, cranking doom riffs will just eat up G's fury-filled wrenchings on "Perished In Flames". Impellitteri styled shred can be found on the instrumental "Feast Of The Savages", while Helloween's modern songwriting is found within "Tyranny". The album ends on a blissful ballad, with "Land Of Eternity" surprisingly one of my favorites of the record.

This is exactly what I loved about bands like Helloween, Heaven's Gate, and Gamma Ray, back when the Germans were just innovative and monumental in their delivery of traditional goods. But just like everything else, it can turn stale so quickly. That is where a band like Firewind excels, they take that "metal heart" and combine it with other avenues, most of those avenues simply being the ability to add in a huge amount of Euro AOR and hard rock. Really at times this material could be like Primal Fear crossed with TNT, but it never comes out as something extremely strange or hard to define. It is such a smooth transition, an easy street to cross and one that seems so important at this stage in the game.

--EC 06.03.05
About this Writer:
Eric Compton // Eric Compton lives in the most haunted city in the world, St. Augustine, Florida with his family and two yorkies. He has contributed to MaximumMetal.com since it's conception in 2003. His reviews, interviews and social commentary has been featured on websites like Brave Words, Blabbermouth, Metal Temple, Metal Rules, Ultimate Metal, Metal Maniacs and Wikipedia. You can also find him on his paperbackwarrior.com blog discussing all things action and adventure.

Maximum Metal Rating Legend - Click for Full Details
5 Excellent - Buy it and say a prayer to the metal gods that you were tuned on to this masterpiece. A classic.
4-4.5 Great - Almost perfect records but there's probably a clunker or a lacking somewhere to keep it from perfection. You won't feel bad about dropping some bones on these.
3.5 Good - Most of the record is good, but there may be some filler. This is the OK range where you'd search for the record on sale or used.
3 Average - Some good songs, some bad ones at about a half/half ratio. Could show skills but be dull overall. Redeeming qualities for indy bands are effort and passion. Majors that don't try or suck outright end up here.
2-2.5 Fair - Worth a listen, but best obtained by collectors. There is much better metal out there.
1-1.5 Bad - Major problems with music, lyrics, production, etc.
0 Terrible or an otherwise waste of your life and time.

Note: Reviews are graded from 0-5, anything higher or not showing is from our old style. Scores, however, do not reveal the important features. The written review that accompanies the ratings is the best source of information regarding the music on our site. Reviewing is opinionated, not a qualitative science, so scores are personal to the reviewer and could reflect anything from being technically brilliant to gloriously cheesy fun.

Demos and independent releases get some slack since the bands are often spent broke supporting themselves and trying to improve. Major releases usually have big financial backing, so they may be judged by a heavier hand. All scores can be eventually adjusted up or down by comparison of subsequent releases by the same band. We attempt to keep biases out of reviews and be advocates of the consumer without the undo influence of any band, label, management, promoter, etc.

The best way to determine how much you may like certain music is to listen to it yourself.

Eric Compton8/31/2006
Between Heaven And HellFirewind
Forged In FireFirewind
Eric Compton6/9/2005

Days Of Defiance Firewind
Eric Compton1/17/2011



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