Firewind – “Still Raging – 20th Anniversary Show”


It’s been a long and winding road for the long-running Greek power metal band, but here Firewind are still rocking hard 20 years since their debut. Initially envisioned as an avenue to show off Gus G.’s (Ozzy Osbourne, Dream Evil, Arch Enemy) considerable guitar talent, Firewind has grown from a side project to a headlining metal band. To celebrate their achievement, they held two headlining shows in Greece. For their hometown show in Thessaloniki, the stars aligned to get the same film crew that recorded Live Premonition back in 2008 to capture their 20th anniversary show on this sprawling double CD live album.

I am not routinely a fan of live albums. I tend to prefer the polished studio albums that show everything right in its place where live albums tend to have more noise and imperfections. But the one thing that a good live album captures is the atmosphere of the live show that you can’t get from a studio album. The interactions with the band and the crowd give insights into the musicians in the band and help build more of connection between listener and band.

“Still Raging” checks many of the boxes for a great live album. The performances, intricate and technical, are great with nary a note out of place. How Gus G. keeps track of the various solos, riffs, and lead work over this hour and forty-five minute album in a single shot is beyond me! Herbie Langhan’s (Seventh Avenue, Avantasia, Sinbreed) voice is strong and holds pitch well for the entire concert. Although he only took over mic duties with the last studio album, “Firewind,” he makes each of the songs sound as though he has always been the frontman. Solid bass work from Petros glues the band together and Jo does a great job setting the tempo and rhythm from the drum seat.

As I mentioned before, a live album is going to be different than the studio as there are only four guys on stage getting one shot at a killer performance. That means 1) they have to make it good and 2) they can’t add more layers on the fly. Consider that there is only one guitarist on stage. I am in awe of the precision at which Gus moves from one guitar section to the other making it sound fluid: from a lead lick back to the riff or doing a solo back into the rhythm guitar position. Even with this reduction in guitar layers, the songs sound great and I am not really missing anything. Sometimes the solos go into the stratosphere creating a divide between the rhythm section creating a dreamlike quality to it. However, listening through the album makes it really clear that this is Gus’s brain child and makes liberal use of showmanship throughout.

I like how well this album captures the live experience. Besides the crowd noises and the plenteous chanting of “Fi-re-wind,” Herbie keeps the crowd going asking periodically if “they want more fire!” I thought that it was funny at one point before “Rising Fire” that he said that it was hot up on stage, but still asked if they wanted more fire. He must be a glutton for punishment! I liked the crowd singing on “Destination Forever” which really helps share the atmosphere of the performance on that night. I particularly like the drum solo where Jo really whales on the set and even gets the crowd participating. It definitely has a fun feel.

The setlist is a good smattering of Firewind tracks through their career, but has a heavy emphasis on their latest studio album with six tracks. That being said, there are two tracks from the debut including “Between Heaven and Hell,” which was a good heavy hitting song. Most of the albums were represented and are truly the cream of the crop for Firewind. I think that one of the highlights is their metal version of Michael Sembello’s 80s dance track “Maniac.” They announce it as their last track and really try to sell it to the crowd that they should be sad that this is the last song. Then they come back with a three song encore. The closer, “Falling to Pieces,” is a great end to what was a fun and energetic concert celebrating 20 years of Firewind.

This is pretty good as far as live albums go. Great concert performance, good mix of songs, and it was mixed rather well, which is not always a given on live albums. I am not well-versed in Firewind’s catalog, but I find the album very enjoyable even working with my meager knowledge of their songs. Since this album, I’ve grown to appreciate the art of the live recording when it is done well as well as the artistry of Firewind. I would definitely recommend for fans of the band, power metal, and live albums, as I think this is a great specimen of all three.

If this album piques your interest, keep an eye and ear out for Firewind’s next studio album “Stand United” which is slated for a March 1, 2024 release. The first couple of tracks sound promising, so I’m looking forward to hearing the next 20 years of Firewind.

Rating: 8.5/10

Written by Sean Bailey


CD 1:
1 – Welcome to the Empire
2 – I Am the Anger
3 – Head Up High
4 – Devour
5 – Destination Forever
6 – Orbitual Sunrise
7 – World on Fire
8 – Drum Solo
9 – The Fire & the Fury
10 – Ode to Leonidas

CD 2:
1 – Overdrive
2 – Mercenary Man
3 – Lady of 1000 Sorrows
4 – Break Away
5 – Between Heaven and Hell
6 – Rising Fire
7 – Maniac
8 – Hands of Time
9 – Few Against Many
10 – Falling to Pieces

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

Release Date: September 1, 2023

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 (2023)
Stand United (2024)

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Video for ‘Mercenary Man’

Video for ‘Ode to Leonidas’

Video for ‘Maniac’

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