Released: 2005, Century Media
Reviewer: Anders Sandvall
I must be living under a rock because this is the first I’ve had the pleasure of listening to Firewind! I’ve herd of them before ‘cause of the guitarist Gus G (formally in Dream Evil and a member of Nightrage and Mystic Prophecy) but I never listened to them...unril now. Gus chose to leave Dream Evil last year for concentrating on this band and Mystic Prophecy.
FORGED BY FIRE is Firewind's third album following both their debut BETWEEN HEAVEN AND HELL ('02) and the previous release from 2003 BURNING EARTH. FORGED BY FIRE is also the band's first release on their new label. Besides the label switch, there has also been some changes in the line up. The original singer, Stephen Fredrick, is replaced by the Sri Lanka native Chity Somapala (ex- Avalon, Faro, Moonlight Agony). Otherwise the line up remains intact. We have Petros (Breaking Silence) on bass, Stian (Pagan’s Mind, Jörn Lande) on drums and Bob (Nightfall) on keyboards. This line up did a headliner tour through Japan in 2004.
The bio lists this as melodic power metal and amazingly I can agree to that for once! This is guitar based power metal with a great sense of heavy metal where Gus really has the chance to show his skill on his instrument. Musically, if you draw parallels between Dream Evil's debut and this album then you may have a clear picture of what Firewind sounds like. Gus G is unique on guitar and he’s is already one of the new generation of guitar heroes...he’s the Yngwie Malmsteen of this century. Chity has an amazing voice and I’m sorry to say this but he almost outdoes Niklas Isfeldt in Dream Evil.
FORGED BY FIRE was recorded in three different studios, one in Greece, one in Germany and one in Norway. The mixing was done in Gothenburg at Gus G's friend and former band mate Fredrik Nordströms studio Fredman. Even though the production revolves mostly around the guitars and vocals, the producer has created a cruel and compact rhythm sound. Fortunately Firewind left the keyboard in the background and rely on guitar/bass/drums and vocals.
Of the 10 songs on the album, 1 is an instrumental, it’s “FEAST OF THE SAVAGES” and contains a guest appearance by the old Megadeth axeman Marty Friedman who handles all the guitar solos on the song. James Murphy (Death etc) guests on guitar on “THE FORGOTTEN MEMORY”. And as always in the power metal genre we have a few ballads too. This albums ballad is called “HATE WORLD HERO” and starts of with only guitars and lead vocals before the tempo rises, after that the tempo slows down and the vocals begins again. This is clearly an up tempo ballad where Chity sounds stunningly good. The last track on the album is another ballad called “LAND OF ETERNITY” that goes really slow and where Gus proves that he can play sensible too. The other guys follow Gus and in the middle Gus shows off in a longer, brilliant guitar solo. This song could absolutely become a real radio hit. “FEAST OF THE SAVAGES” is the instrumental song with Marty Friedman on lead guitar. It’s a complex melodic power metal track with numerous tempo changes. Gus and Marty own the soundpicture totally. For me this is probably the most boring track on the album but is you’re a guitar freak it might be your favoite. The first and the sixth song are pure melodic power metal with a lot sharp guitar riffs by Gus. This is guitar based metal with a catchy chorus. The second track is a bit slower than the first one but also here there are guitar and vocals who shares the biggest part in the production. The third song is a very heavy melodic power metal song, Chity has an enormous back-up choir, that sounds almost like a "football choir" that chants. In the fourth song the tempo drops and there are a lot of double bass pedals used. Again, there are some very complex tempo changes and as I mentioned features James Murphy on guitar. The fifth song shifts between melodic power metal and more fast metal. On “PERISHED IN FLAMES” the first part of the song could be taken for an uptempo ballad but in the middle the tempo rises and the song turns into melodic power metal with an aggressive guitar play by Gus.
It’s hard to come up with anything negative about this album, the only two things must be the songs “FEAST OF THE SAVAGES” and the ballad “LAND OF ETERNITY” besides those tracks are the quality of this album is sky high. Even the cover fits the music. Add competent musicians, an up and coming guitar player, well written material to that and than you’ll find yourself listening to this album.
The bio says that this album should be interesting for all fans of Helloween, Dio, Judas Priest, and Masterplan and I can assure you that’s true. Firewind have already conquered Japan and now it’s time for the rest of the world to be run down by them. The first edition of “FORGED BY FIRE” is gonna feature bonus enhancement of the “TYRANNY video-clip and comprehensive making of/live footage during a limited time.
Killer tracks: “KILL TO LIVE”, “BEWARE THE BEAST”, “TYRANNY”, “THE FORGOTTEN MEMORY”, “HATE WORLD HERO” and “BURN IN HELL”.