Released: 2006, Century Media/EMI
Reviewer: Anders Sandvall
Firewind sure works fast; this is their fourth album, and a few changes have been going on in the band. The band leader and guitar genius Gus G. has once again found a new singer, Apollo Papathanasio (ex- Majestic, Time Requiem), and a new drummer, Mark Cross (ex- Helloween, ex- Metalium, At Vance).
I hesitated when I first heard that Apollo had taken over the lead vocals in Firewind because I didn’t thought he was able to sing this kind of music, but as soon as I turned on the album I realized I was totally wrong. It seems like Apollo has found the perfect place for his voice, and he sounds a thousand times better now than he did in Time Requiem, maybe because Gus G. lets Apollo sing in his own way.
On ALLEGIANCE I can sense a slighter change in course for Firewind musically. The power metal influences have been toned down and instead they lean more into a more melodic heavy metal approach even though they still have a few more power but also a few progressive influences in the music. Keyboards have also taken over more space here compared to the previous albums. Firewind recorded ALLEGIANCE in JM Studio and the mixing was done by Gus G. and his old bandmate in Dream Evil Fredrik Nordström. Just like everything else Mr. Nordström has laid his hands on, this is totally brilliant.
Amongst the 11 tracks on ALLEGIANCE there is one instrumental track, “Before the Storm”, where Gus G. shows off his knowledge on guitar, and on the more up-tempo ballad “Deliverance”, it’s time for Apollo to impress the listener. My favorite tracks are the technical melodic heavy metal songs “Allegiance”, “Insanity”, “Falling To Pieces”, “The Essence” and “Where Do We Go From Here?”. “Breaking The Silence” is a duet between Apollo and Tara. It’s a keyboard-based song with a more melodic touch and their voices fit extremely well together, and in the middle of the song Gus G. delivers a totally mind-blowing lead guitar part in a way that only he can do.
If the previous album was a masterpiece, then I don’t really know what to call ALLEGIANCE because it’s even better. Gus G. has taken another step forward towards complete world domination within this genre, and I can’t find anything negative at all, and that’s totally unlike me. It’s good enough just to lean back and enjoy the wonders of Gus G. and his Firewind.