Firewind – “Stand United”


Long live the Herbie era of Firewind! One of the most defining characteristics for a band in my opinion is the sound of the vocalist with the second being the songwriter. Firewind has had five vocalists since their inception in 2002 while maintaining their chief songwriter Gus G. (Ozzy Osbourne, Dream Evil, Arch Enemy) which may may be why they are here with their tenth studio album, second with one of my favorite metal vocalists, Herbie Langhans (Seventh Avenue, Avantasia, Sinbreed). I’ve got my fingers crossed that this lineup persists because the chemistry is beautiful.

“Stand United” showcases a cohesive Firewind where each musician fits perfectly together, playing to their strengths. Herbie performs with an ease that comes from playing with the band on the road for the last couple of years. Gus’s guitar work is up to his standards and engaging. The solos have technical flair, but have a quality that builds the emotional intensity in the songs. His keyboard work adds a deeper texture to the lead lines, weaving in among the guitar lines. Although not as much in the spotlight, Petros’ bass and Jo’s drums work is foundational and is pivotal in the execution of the cover of “Talking in Your Sleep,” by The Romantics.

Not only does the band sound cohesive, but the album flows well from one song to the next, where the energy from “Salvation Day” flows naturally through the album to the last notes of “Days of Grace.” I’ve listened through this album many times and I haven’t tired of it yet; it is a fun ride with a couple of twists and turns along the way.

The songwriting is solid. Even if the song structures are a little predictable, they make up for in variety. The album feels less heavy than their earlier albums, but by no means is this out of the realm of metal, nor a departure from Firewind’s characteristic sound. First off, most of the songs are heavy melodic/power metal songs like “Salvation Day,” “Come Undone,” and “Fallen Angel.” They also have more traditional heavy metal songs “The Power Within,” and “Land of Chaos,” the hard rock track “Chains” and the closing ballad “Days of Grace.” Regardless of the style, they sound natural and the energy is palpable even on the slower tracks.

The most unique track on the album is “Talking in Your Sleep.” The original has an 80s new-wave feel, lacking the melodic hooks that I would expect in potential power metal fodder. Before the release I was really wondering what this would sound like, but I was pleasantly surprised. Firewind’s version uses heavy power chords, chunkier bass, and metal vocals to make it their own, but retain some of the funky polyrhythmic hocket among the instruments and the subdued melody. It is definitely unique.

As for the musical performances, Herbie does a fantastic job delivering quality lead vocals, improvising on the secondary choruses. His gravelly timbre makes the melody heavier, retaining a metal atmosphere versus hard rock vibe. Gus’s lead guitar work shows a great balance between technical ability and musical sensibility and lands perfectly. I do have a gripe about the solo in “The Power Within” which plays too long in the rhythm guitar frequencies, but otherwise lands well. More so than the previous album, the keys play a key secondary lead instrument on many of the tracks including “Destiny is Calling” and “Come Undone.” The rhythm section is solid. What makes great music starts with a great foundation, and Firewind have that on this album.

The lyrics have an optimistic and empowering message to it and manage not to be cheesy, which sometimes is hard with positive subjects in metal. Although not a concept album in the traditional sense, there is a prevailing empowerment in the face of tyranny whether that is governmental, addiction, or even the demonic. I find the mixing of these positive themes and the music a powerful force that will keep this album in rotation for a while.

“Stand United” stands above in the pantheon of Firewind albums. This album showcases a cohesive, energetic, dynamic, and dare say sympathetic Firewind that cements Herbie’s role as the vocalist for the band. A great collection of songs that doesn’t get old with subsequent listens, I can’t recommend this enough, especially for those that are fans of melodic metal genres.

They are currently on tour in Europe with Masterplan and will later be hopping the pond to visit North America with Edge of Paradise and Immortal Guardian. I’ll be in attendance for the San Antonio show and looking forward to hearing these new songs live!

Rating: 9.5/10

Written by Sean Bailey

1 – Salvation Day
2 – Stand United
3 – Destiny is Calling
4 – The Power Lies Within
5 – Come Undone
6 – Fallen Angel
7 – Chains
8 – Land of Chaos
9 – Talking In Your Sleep
10 – Days of Grace

Firewind is:
Gus G. – guitars
Petros Christo – bass
Jo Nunez – drums
Herbie Langhans – vocals

Release Date: March 1, 2024

Record Label: AFM Records

Between Heaven and Hell (2002)
Burning Earth (2003)
Forged by Fire (2005)
Allegiance (2006)
The Premonition (2008)
Live Premonition (2008)
Days of Defiance (2010)
Few Against Many (2012)
Apotheosis – Live (2012)
Immortals (2017)
Firewind (2020)
Still Raging – 20th Anniversary Show (Live Album) (2023) [review]
Stand United (2024)

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Video for Salvation Day

Video for Fallen Angel

Lyric video for Chains

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