Friday, April 12, 2024

Firewind ‘Stand United’ in the face of global chaos

Back in 2020, the live music industry came to a halt but world class albums didn’t and Firewind composed one of the best power metal records of the year, if not their best. Four years into the future and the Greek Titans are back, aiming to go one step further.

In a world marred by conflicts, Stand United covers a wide range of topics from war, COVID and climate change. Founding guitarist Gus G tells us that it’s precisely within these times that people need to “stand close together instead of fighting each other”. He talks about the collage of faces by Costin Chioreanu on the album cover in which “war, greed, betrayal but also love and unity” are brilliantly represented.  

When you think of a politically charged album, subgenres like thrash metal or grindcore instantly come to mind but Firewind are one of few power metal bands that push the boundaries of the genre not just lyrically, but also sonically. The record doesn’t have any key changes to major scales in the outros and neither is it 200bpm+ throughout. 

‘Salvation Day’ sets the tone with no room for fun and games as the tannoy is out to echo the voices of discontent towards injustice. Herbie Langhans’ gravelly vocals sound like a Spitfire powering up before takeoff to unleash any trapped rage. Meanwhile, some impeccable shredding by Gus G and spotless drumming from Jo Nunez send out a strong warning that they will relentlessly resist. Set in a news broadcast scenario, the music video consists of Herbie (anchorman) alongside his co-presenter reading out the headlines with a giant screen in the background showing both fictional and real footage of atrocities happening as we speak. The lyrics illustrate our society not going one minute without a tragic headline of soldiers not returning and victims crying out for salvation “With news of blood I start the day, Insurrection pain and more disaster”. At the end of the clip, it becomes unbearable as Herbie throws his script away in frustration.

But it’s not just Herbie that steals the spotlight because keeping him company is the almighty Gus G, often underrated in spite of his time with Ozzy Osbourne, Dream Evil, Mystic Prophecy and others. With abilities to pull off outrageous solos, he uses every technique in the book that would make classical composers crawl out of their graves just to applaud him. Shredding, sweep picking and arpeggios are just a few tricks in his arsenal and once on display, the listener can only get goosebumps of excitement.

The title track ‘Stand United’ keeps the pace going as Jo Nunez smashes the life out of his drum kit with ferocious double kick and snare hits like cannon blasts. Thanks to contagious melodies, this song has sing-along written all over it including a brutal pre-solo breakdown to snap your neck. It focuses on the main message of the album, emphasising the need to join forces in times of crises “Stand united, keep fighting, If instead of hate, we all relate”.   

‘The Power Lies Within’ and ‘Land of Chaos’ might be mid-tempo but Firewind just have that special knack of retaining fans’ engagement regardless of how fast or slow a song goes. Filler tunes in many instances take the fun out of a record but thankfully the band didn’t fall victim to this trap with endless energy and ideas flowing.  

‘Destiny Is Calling’ talks about merciless tyrants not stopping until achieving their goals at the expense of a population’s suffering. While carrying out their atrocities, they have no regret and sleep well, guaranteed that they will go unpunished “There’s no remorse to torment you”. Although the content is bleak, the use of synth samples in the choruses and sweet harmonies by Gus lightens the mood.

‘Come Undone’ is a reference to invaded nations that were once in peace are now at risk of falling due to a call for their people to stand strong and hopeful to one day overthrow the perpetrators “Fearing of worst things to come, Before we all come undone”. Herbie acts like the megaphone, leading the charge and refusing to wave the white flag while Gus G goes on another one of his shredding frenzies that would require Guitar Hero to make a new level of difficulty just for him. 

Despite four years feeling like an eternity between Stand United and its self-titled predecessor, Firewind have come back hotter than ever.

Stand United is out now via AFM Records.

Pedro Felippe
Pedro Felippe
Metalhead since the stone age. Always bash the crap out of my drum kit and am an avid gig goer. I massively identify myself within the metal community as the sense of belonging is unrivalled.

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Back in 2020, the live music industry came to a halt but world class albums didn’t and Firewind composed one of the best power metal records of the year, if not their best. Four years into the future and the Greek Titans are back,...Firewind ‘Stand United’ in the face of global chaos