Firewind - Allegiance
Century Media
Melodic Heavy / Power Metal
11 songs (49'04)
Release year: 2006
Firewind, Century Media
Reviewed by Marty
Besides a recent stint with Arch Enemy as a touring guitarist, Greek guitar wizard Gus G. has given up all of his other musical endeavours with bands like Dream Evil, Nightrage and Mystic Prophecy to concentrate fully on his main band, Firewind. Right out of the gate, Firewind's first two albums were excellent U.S. power metal styled albums that were a great mix of muscle and melody. With the last album Forged In Fire, lead vocalist Stephen Fredrick was replaced by Sri Lanka native Chitty Sompala due to his inability to be available for touring. With that album, Firewind was progressing in a direction that was more melodic heavy metal in style with some influences from 80's melodic hard rock. The heaviness and killer riffs were still there but now there was a newfound emphasis on melodies and choruses to the songs. Chitty's voice was much more higher pitched than Stephen Fredrick's and gave the band a different sound. Although still a good album, Forged In Fire lacked the energy of the previous work. With Allegiance, the band's fourth album, we see even more personnel changes with drummer Mark Cross (Metalium, Helloween) joining the band and journeyman vocalist Apollo Papathanasio (Time Requiem, Evil Masquerade) taking over the lead vocal spot. I seem to recall reading about some immigration problems with Chitty Sompala during their last tour, which probably factored into his departure from the band. Once again, Fredrick Nordstrom handled the production duties.

With Apollo Panathansio handling the vocal duties, Firewind is now able to return to the more "throaty" and "muscular" singing style that we saw with Stephen Fredrick for the first two albums along with keeping the melodic heavy metal edge of Forged In Fire still very much alive. The title track Allegiance kicks things off nicely with a song that is heavy on the U.S. power metal style but has a big huge chorus, topped off by a neo-classical edge to the guitar and keyboard melodies. Insanity continues with the U.S. power metal style but is even more driving, heavy and riff-driven and with another get-stuck-in-your-head chorus. Several tracks on Allegiance see Firewind venturing into new territory with several tracks including Falling To Pieces and Breaking The Silence having a more prominent keyboard presence over previous albums. Breaking The Silence also features a vocal duet between Apollo and female Swedish vocalist Tara Ullaeua on a track that has a very different feel for this power metal band. Ready To Strike is pure Whitesnake with it's opening Children Of The Night like riff. You can just picture David Coverdale and company doing this one. Other tracks that break new ground for Firewind include Deliverance, a track that mixes acoustic and heavy passages with occasional soft refrains. Apollo delivers a soaring vocal on this one and has the type of chorus that you'll walk away whistling even after the first listen. The more traditional speedy power metal style of the first two albums is revisited for a couple of tracks with Till The End Of Time and Dreamchaser. With driving riffs and double bass drums, both have very huge choruses but with Deliverance being the weaker of the two. Gus G. gets to show his guitar prowess on the instrumental track Before The Storm that sees him laying down some ripping and melodic lead guitar over a slow laid back backing track. Shades of Gary Moore and Michael Schenker abound with his playing style and with an overall more subdued approach to his playing over the rest of the album, this track allows him cut loose for a bit. The album ends with a couple of solid tracks with The Essence being more riff-heavy mid tempo and Where Do We Go From Here showing Gus' admiration for 80's melodic heavy metal complete with a classic Scorpions / Dokken sound. The wild lead fills over the main riff and huge melodic chorus more than pay homage to these greats of the 80's

With Allegiance, Firewind reaches into their past and pulls out the best of what they had accomplished so far and mixed it with a newfound sense of melody to produce a sound that leans more towards a melodic hard rock style rather than heavy metal or power metal. With it being very difficult for a power metal band to forge a unique identity for themselves these days, Firwewind have taken great strides to do just that. Every track here is very solid with lots of diversity, great sing-along choruses and they have struck just the perfect balance between heaviness and melody. The keyboards take more of a front seat in the mix with a few tracks and in some instances, Allegiance sounds more like a hard rock album rather than a metal album. Because of that, this album should appeal to both power metal and melodic hard rock fans. Apollo's voice is very, very strong on this album and he was a great choice to be a part of this "redefining" of Firewind. This album has all the elements to be their best work yet and I guess it depends on just how high you rate melody over heaviness in a metal band. If melody ranks a wee bit higher in your books, then you have a genuine winner with this album.

Killing Songs :
Allegiance, Insanity, Deliverance, Before The Storm and The Essence
Marty quoted 86 / 100
Other albums by Firewind that we have reviewed:
Firewind - Immortals reviewed by Joel and quoted 86 / 100
Firewind - Few Against Many reviewed by Bar and quoted 80 / 100
Firewind - Days Of Defiance reviewed by Erik and quoted 93 / 100
Firewind - The Premonition reviewed by Crims and quoted 82 / 100
Firewind - Forged By Fire reviewed by Marty and quoted 78 / 100
To see all 8 reviews click here
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