Album Review: Firewind – Stand United – An Anthem for Unity

It’s hard to argue with the theme running through the latest release by Firewind, the band led since 1998 by guitar virtuoso Gus G. “This world seems to be getting more and more out of balance,” Gus says, “what with environmental disasters, the pandemic, the wars currently raging all over the globe. In such times, it’s more important than ever for mankind to stand close together instead of fighting each other. That’s what Stand United is about.” So, thankfully, it’s not about your cliched Brothers In Metal style that so many bands, especially the more Traditional Metal bands, turn to.

Firewind – Stand United (AFM Records)

Release Date: 1 March 2024

Words: Paul Hutchings

Stand United is almost exactly as I had expected it to be. I’ve dipped in and out of the band’s discography through the years, all the way back to the fine debut Between Heaven And Hell via 2012’s Few Against Many and the most recent release, the self-titled album from 2020.

Gus is the constant in the band, although he’s been ably supported by bassist Petros Christodoulidis for over two decades, whilst drummer Johan Nunez is entering his second decade as well.

It’s singer Herbie Langhans who is welcomed back for his second album with the band, and he does a fine job. Langhans has the right vocal style to fit Firewind’s brand of Heavy Metal, a combination of Mats Leven, Doogie White, Graham Bonnett and Robin McAuley, which is ideal for the anthemic songs that are overflowing here.

Firewind – Stand United (AFM Records) - Out on 1 March 2024
Firewind – Stand United (AFM Records) – Out on 1 March 2024

The songs come at you fast and furious. There’s plenty of Gus’s exceptional guitar work, flashes, and tricks that we have come to expect from a guitarist of his calibre. There’s an element of if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it mind, as each song has a similar pattern and tempo.

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Hardly surprising in most respects and pleasing in many ways, for sometimes solid, almost comforting tunes work as well as anything else.

So, ten songs, all averaging around the four-minute mark, and they are led off the blocks by Salvation Day, which has a Euro vibe about it. It’s almost poppy in many respects, and if you removed the frenetic lead bursts, it could easily be one of those occasional rock band attempts to get into Eurovision.

The frantic riffs that lead into the title track upgrade the heaviness substantially as it flows in an expansive Power Metal anthem.

Elsewhere, it’s not until you arrive at Fallen Angel that anything really sticks, and this is mainly due to the hook that Langhan brings to the party. It’s one of the more modern songs on the album, though there is no doubt how deep the roots of the song and the band go. It’s firmly anchored in the 1980s with a much more contemporary flavour.

Inevitably, there is a cover version lurking within Stand United. This time around, it’s The Romantics’ Talking in Your Sleep, which is given the once over. It’s a bit of a mundane cover, to be honest, with nothing really to hold the attention for long.

It’s followed by a rather limp ballad, Days Of Grace, which is about as generic a track as you can get. There’s even the odd glimpse of Maiden in parts, but it’s a rather flaccid ending to an album that has some flashes of genius, as well as some rather routine songs.

It’s enjoyable enough to listen to, but whether you’ll be humming any of these long after you finish listening is debatable. I have friends who think Firewind are amongst the best Metal bands around, and the musicianship, production and even the artwork is solid.

If you like Metal that the likes of Ronnie Romero, Michael Schenker and the like seem able to deliver on a regular basis, then Stand United is going to be one for you to enjoy repeatedly.

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