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Firewind: Days Of Defiance

Firewind released their debut album Between Heaven And Hell in 2002 and over the next eight years, the Greek power metal five piece have slowly built on their early promise with each of their next four outings. In particular the last couple of albums, 2006's Allegiance and The Premonition which came out two years later, have been two of the most convincing and enduring power metal albums around. Add to that the higher profile that guitarist Gus G has received this year thanks to his excellent fret work on Ozzy Osbourne's best album for a couple of decades (Scream) and Firewind would appear perfectly placed to make the move into the power metal top division.

Deciding that if it ain't broke, then don't fix it, Days Of Defiance picks up exactly where The Premonition left off, with both Gus and second guitarist Bob Katsionis, who also doubles up on keyboards, leading from the front in blistering fashion. Right from the opening track "The Ark Of Lies" the guitars and bass smack you about the head, the drums pound with pace and precision and vocalist Apollo Papathanasio unveils one of the most under rated voices in metal. It is a process that is repeated over and over on this album, however the belief and spirit in the band's music raises Firewind above the myriad of bands desperately trying to stand out from the power metal crowd. That said Firewind aren't afraid to alter things slightly, with "Heading For The Dawn" being a heads down gallop in the way that Helloween used to do so well, while "Chariot" is slightly more sophistication with its keyboard layers, time changes and more restrained beat. "Embrace The Sun" takes that a step further, by being positively slow in comparison to the rest of the album and even allowing the keys to take centre stage for a while.

Whilst they can also deliver some fantastic mid-paced stomping metal, Firewind are at their ferocious best when drummer Michael Ehre (making an impressive Firewind debut here) and bassist Petros Christodoylidis steam along at full pelt, with the glorious "Heading For The Dawn", or "Losing Faith" being amongst the best examples of how no holds barred melodic power metal should be. The highlights continue to come thick and fast, with "When All Is Said" highlighting Gus' tasteful lead work and "World On Fire" allowing Apollo to use his phenomenal voice to full effect.

With a third consecutive release of a ridiculously high standard, Firewind deserve to be right at the forefront of this genre and it has to be said that you really will struggle to come across a better collection of metal anthems anywhere else this year.


Track Listing
1. The Ark Of Lies
2. World On Fire
3. Chariot
4. Embrace The Sun
5. The Departure
6. Heading For The Dawn
7. Broken
8. Cold As Ice
9. Kill In The Name Of Love
10. SKG
11. Losing Faith
12. The Yearning
13. When All Is Said And Done

Added: February 13th 2011
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: Official Firewind Web Site
Hits: 1903
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Firewind: Days Of Defiance
Posted by Jeff B, SoT Staff Writer on 2011-02-13 12:18:31
My Score:

Embrace The Sun

Firewind is certainly among the more popular modern power metal outfits, and Days of Defiance is an album that was widely praised as one of the best Euro-power metal albums in recent memory. Although I haven't been a follower of the band for a significant amount of time, I was blown away at first listen by Days of Defiance. What Firewind has done here is taken everything that's great about European power metal, stripped away that unnecessary layer of cheese, and created a killer album to go down for the ages. This isn't the most innovative or revolutionary album out there, but the musicianship and compositions are so excellent that it's easy to excuse the band from a slightly derivative approach. Firewind is head and shoulders above the competition, and Days of Defiance is perfect proof of that. I'd recommend all fans of power metal to give this a shot.

The music is fairly standard Euro-power metal - it's the stellar compositions and arrangements that really set Firewind apart from their competitors. This isn't a terribly unique or original album, but who cares when the music kicks this much ass? Tracks like "The Ark of Lies" and especially the breathtaking instrumental "SKG" prove Firewind's brilliance in its purest form. The technical capabilities of the musicians here are impeccable, to say the very least. Keyboards in power metal are usually there to add extra bombast and atmosphere, but Bob Katsionis proves that he isn't here just for some neo-classical arpeggios and symphonic chords. He has some amazing shredding solos - as a keyboard player myself, it's great to hear a band utilizing their keyboard player as much as Firewind does here. The lead guitar work from Gus G. is also spectacular; he's a multi-faceted player who can transition from blazing shred-solos to melodic riffing in the blink of an eye. That's honestly one of the greatest things about Firewind - there's nothing quite like hearing professional and skillful musicians playing incredible music. Firewind is simply a fun band to listen to; that in itself is a shining asset.

The production is certainly bombastic and powerful, but there is a raw edge to the sound that keeps too much cheese from creeping its way in. I personally love the sound of Days of Defiance.

Conclusion:

Days of Defiance served as my introduction to Firewind, and calling it a great entrance point would be an understatement. If you like many of the concepts behind European power metal but are lactose intolerant (i.e. don't like cheese), you'll definitely want to check this album out. I'll go with a confident 4 star rating for another top-notch effort from Firewind. This was one of the best power metal albums from 2010 - fans of the genre shouldn't miss out on this gem.

Firewind: Days Of Defiance
Posted by Simon Bray, SoT Staff Writer on 2010-10-23 06:51:42
My Score:

The Premonition was my favourite release of 2008, packed with magnificent tunes such as "Mercenary Man", "Angels Forgive Me" and the wacky cover of "Maniac", it delivered in spades what the band had only really hinted at on earlier albums. With Gus G joining Ozzy Osbourne and Mark Cross departing would Firewind be able to keep the momentum going?

The answer is a resounding yes. "Chariot" and "Embrace the Sun" are the key tracks powered along by the lush keyboard stylings of Bob Katsionis but ultimately the album belongs to Gus G who never overplays despite what I'm sure must be a desperate urge to do so, but also to Apollo Papathanasio who has truly developed into one of the power metal genre's top vocalists.

"Millions Miles Away", the fabulous instrumental "SKG", "Cold As Ice" (I was thinking about the possibility of another fun cover version) are all favourites of mine and will satisfy fans. Back in the day I'd even wager that "Broken" may have even been a hit with the housewives (Papathanasio sounds disturbingly like Bob Catley at times on this one.) With a fair wind this should be the record that really pushes the band into the upper echelons of the power metal division.



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