Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2019
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

Radio rock at points. Purely amazing at others. - 70%

PowerProg_Adam, March 20th, 2014

It is always hard to know what to expect when guitarists have solo albums, especially when they are already pretty much the leader of their main band. Will it be their attempt at something experimental, a chance to do vocals, or will it be a complete festival of shred. When it comes to Greek guitar virtuoso it almost seems like life couldn’t get much better. His own band Firewind has steadily been releasing albums for years and he is now probably more known as the guy who replaced Zakk Wylde in Ozzy Osbourne’s band. When reading that he was due to put out a solo album titled I Am the Fire (which in itself to me signifies his leadership of Firewind), I had no idea what to expect or why he was doing so.

On paper I Am the Fire seems extremely impressive, with a wide array of guest musicians from Mats Leven, Tom Englund of Evergrey, Jeff Scott Soto, and even oddly enough Steel Panther’s Michael Starr. A couple of the tracks even had the bass laid down by legends David Ellefson and Billy Sheehan. Then we get thrown a curve ball in terms of expectations by the several tracks with guests from more modern bands such as Devour the Day, Eyes Set to Kill, and Lynam. The only thing left to do to find out where your expectations were met is to actually listen to the album.

Realizing that Mats Leven, who has been in several technically proficient bands such as Yngwie Malmsteen and At Vance, is on four songs seems like the logical place to begin an analysis of the album. From these tracks I can easily see what Gus was trying to do with this project. He is trying to get more mainstream success without alienating Firewind’s fanbase. Every track with Leven is very similar. They are all pretty much 3 to 4 minute Guns N’ Roses meets Buckcherry sleazy sounding rock and roll tunes. That seems to have always been a huge craze and I can honestly understand why Gus would choose to write songs like this. What I don’t really understand is why someone of Gus’s ability minimizes on the complexity of the riffs and plays pretty basic by the numbers guitar solos in several of the songs. Out of the Leven fronted tracks End of the Line is definitely the bright spot. It has a very laid back vibe to it, is a little more memorable than the other four and Gus’s guitar playing really starts to shine. The solos are very melodic, yet intricate and soulful and its honestly one of the best tracks on the album.

The next logical tracks to check out are the two with the guests from the up to date radio rock sounding bands Devour the Day and Eyes Set to Kill. I Am the Fire and Long Way Down both sound like something that could easily be a hit on the radio. Both are a little repetitive and have that “life is hard” kind of lyrical content that most popular rock bands of today seem to have. Neither of these tracks are anything I would think most fans of Firewind would appreciate, but I could see them garnering some mainstream attention although myself would not normally listen to songs like this. Just Can’t Let Go with Jacob Bunton of Lynam on vocals can very easily fall into the same category as these two as well.

What I am least surprised to see on this album is that there are two absolutely shredding instrumental tracks which oddly enough are the ones with Ellefson and Sheehan playing bass on them. Vengeance and Terrified are what I expect to see on any guitar virtuoso’s solo albums. I am usually not the hugest fan of instrumental tracks, but both tracks are phenomenal, especially Terrified, which is just a huge wall of speed and technical ability while maintaining a flow that is memorable, which is what made me fall in love with Gus’s guitar playing several years ago.

The last part of my analysis is the tracks I expected to love solely on who the guests on them were. Redemption sounds nothing like what I would expect from the vocalist of Steel Panther and from the vibe from several other songs on the album. Starr’s few high notes he hits on this track are pretty amazing, but its honestly not the most memorable of songs. The guitar solo is once again is very nice though, extremely fast and probably one of the longer solos on the album. Summer Days with Jeff Scott Soto actually does sound like it could be a Firewind song. Its a mid-paced melodic rock tune and is extremely memorable. This is easily one of the best songs on the album and the one guitar solo that probably has the most emotional feel to it from any of the album. Dreamkeeper is actually the first song I listened to because I have always loved Tom Englund’s blend of dark, yet emotional vocals. He is easily one of the most soulful metal vocalists I have ever heard and definitely doesn’t disappoint on this. It actually sounds like it could be an Evergrey song and is a unique almost power ballad-ish sounding song. The song fades out with a lot of very emotional sounding guitar work as well. Honestly this track is the highlight of the album and I really wish more songs on the album were like this. It was great to see Gus and Tom working together again since all those years ago in Nightrage. I really hope that they record a full album together sometime in the future.

After completely listening to the album I am a little more impressed by it than I first thought. There are a wide variety of songs for pretty much any fan of hard rock and metal and a couple of fantastic instrumental pieces. Not all of the songs are things I would normally listen to, but I definitely must admit that 2 or 3 songs really drive this album, especially Summer Days and Dreamkeeper. I would not be opposed to another Gus G. solo album in the future. This has a lot to offer several types of music listeners, but of course I highly doubt most people would like all of it. The three or four phenomenal tracks greatly increase the rating of this album.