Stand United

rating icon 8 / 10

Track listing:

01. Salvation Day
02. Stand United
03. Destiny is Calling
04. The Power Lies Within
05. Come Undone
06. Fallen Angel
07. Chains
08. Land of Chaos
09. Talking in Your Sleep
10. Days of Grace

Gus G was already a name before he became the lead guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne's band in 2009, but the big gig certainly helped his notoriety. At the time, Gus G was the ringleader of Greek power metal band FIREWIND and a buzzed-about lead guitarist in the metal scene. But his gig with Ozzy took him to the biggest venues around the globe, making him the "it man" of the hour. Not simply a touring guitarist, Gus G also contributed to the writing sessions for Ozzy's 2010 solo album, "Scream".

Gus G and Ozzy parted ways in 2017, however, throughout the years, Gus G had continued with his baby, FIREWIND, and now, the band's on its 10th studio album, "Stand United".

While Gus G is the heart and soul of FIREWIND, this isn't a solo project. On "Stand United", he's joined by the full-voiced Herbie Langhans, who has performed with bands such as AVANTASIA and SINBREED. FIREWIND's brand of music is strong, heavy and powerful, so having a vocalist that can stand up against that wall of metal is crucial to their music's success. On "Stand United", Langhans more than lives up to the challenge, delivering a consistent level of quality, high-caliber vocals from start to end.

The album's opener, "Salvation Day", is an epic, guitar-centric power anthem with an uplifting, fast-paced sound and sky-high sonics. "Destiny is Calling" is another stand out. Here, FIREWIND serves up a very anthemic-sounding song with a strong chorus and dramatic vocals. Elsewhere, "Fallen Angel" and "Land of Chaos" both exude a strong and triumphant German-metal feel.

FIREWIND isn't a radio band, by any means, but they sound a tad like a rock radio-ready band on the standout track "Chains". The song centers on Langhans's vocals, which sit higher in his register and take on an almost Dokken or Myles Kennedy-type character. The song features a catchy hook and melodic chorus that certainly fits well with the mainstream rock world.
The album's closing track, "Days of Grace", is the ballad that "Stand United" needed, with soft guitars and Langhans singing of his dreaming fading away and the world crumbling. This song has a very '80s power ballad sound, which fits well.

"Stand United" is an uplifting recording from start to finish, at least sonically. Thematically, it serves up everything from thoughts on environmental calamities to the pandemic to war. Even with those dark themes, these songs sound somehow hopeful, and that fits the longtime FIREWIND narrative of epic, empowering music.

Author: Anne Erickson
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