FEW AGAINST MANY
I know I wasn't alone in worrying that guitarist Gus G. joining Ozzy would ruin Firewind. Sure, we all get that it's a great move for Gus. Further, we also understand that it is an unbelievable opportunity that that has propelled every other guitarist except Joe Holmes to stardom. In short, we get why Gus did it. That said though, Firewind has been, along with Primal Fear, the most consistently great power metal band of the last decade. Seeing it become a part time project behind a very high profile gig could have spelled disaster.
Thankfully though, this has not happened. While it's not the best album Firewind has ever done, FEW AGAINST MANY is very much in tune with the greatness of previous efforts and continues to show development of the band as songwriters. To say the least, FEW AGAINST MANY kicks ass in the tradition the band had previously established.
More than ever before, Firewind have really grown as songwriters on FEW AGAINST MANY, showcasing some of the best arrangements the band has showcased to date. Songs like "Losing My Mind" are excellent, most notably in their transitions between bridges and choruses. This falls in large part on Gus, rhythm guitarist Bob Katsionis and the rhythm section made up of drummer Johan Nunez and bassist petros Christodoulidis. For his part, Gus G. continues to showcase just why the Ozzy handlers saw him as talented enough to replace Zakk Wylde. In short, G's riffs and solos are crisp and loud; easily some of the best work of his career. That said though, FEW AGAINST MANY is surprisingly the album that sounds the most like a true band over the course of their now long career. Songs like "Battleborn" and the brilliant "No Heroes, No Sinners" have a huge, arena rock sound as a collective that this band just hasn't featured before.
Vocally, Apollo papthanasio has proven over nearly a decade now that his is the voice that early albums were simply miissing. He shines brightly here; sounding like somewhat of a cross between Russell Allen and Tim "Ripper" Owens in both presentation and phrasing on songs like "Few Against Many" and the moody "Edge Of A Dream" (which features Apocalyptica providing the ambiance). This song sounds almost like an Evergrey outtake, but with better vocals.
PITRIFF RATING - 91/100 - It's good to see that a year of touring and performing on a bad Ozzy album didn't convert Gus G's ideas away from creating some of the most glorious power metal out there today. FEW AGAINST MANY is a completely enjoyable album that proves that Ozzy hasn't ruined Gus the way he ruined his own reputation and integrity. Really good stuff.