Saturday, July 27, 2013

Firewind - Apotheosis - Live 2012

Apotheosis - Live 2012
Century Media Records/E.M.I. Music Australia

Although heavy/power metal outfit Firewind hit the road in support of their seventh full-length album ‘Few Against Many’ last year, 2012 also represented the band’s tenth anniversary, which meant that the shows in support of the album were more a celebration of the band’s standing as one of Greece’s biggest metal exports, and the mark they’ve made on the metal scene as a whole on a worldwide scale.
But as much as the shows were a celebration, they were also marked a fitting farewell for vocalist Apollo Papathanasio, who announced his departure from the group after a successful six year run with the band to focus his attention with Spiritual Beggars.
So it comes as no surprise to find that while out on tour throughout 2012, the band (Who aside from Papathanasio, comprised of lead guitarist/backing vocalist/founder Gus G., keyboardist/rhythm guitarist Bob Katsionis, bassist Petros Christo and drummer Johan Nunez) decided the time was right to record some shows, and release a live album that celebrates the band’s legacy, but one that also salutes Papathanasio’s contribution to the group in the live setting.
‘Apotheosis’, which in Greek means the glorification of a subject to a divine level, is a pretty fitting title for Firewind’s second live album. The band sound positively inspired throughout the seventeen tracks on offer, and the crowd appreciation evident throughout the album must have made them feel like the gods themselves.
As mentioned, ‘Apotheosis’ is the band’s second live effort, with the C.D./D.V.D. ‘Live Premonition’ release being released back in 2008. While five years between live releases may sound like too short a gap between live albums, it has to be said that in the audio sense, this live album sounds a little rawer and less polished than ‘Live Premonition’, which in some ways when compared to their live effort from five years ago, validates this release of another live album.
As expected, the track listing on ‘Apotheosis’ focussed predominately on the band’s last two studio releases for the most part, with four tracks lifted from 2010’s ‘Days Of Defiance’ (‘World On Fire’, ‘The Departure’, ‘Heading For The Dawn’ and ‘SKG’) and a further five taken from 2012’s ‘Few Against Many’ (‘Wall Of Sound’, ‘Losing My Mind’, ‘Few Against Many’, ‘Glorious’ and ‘Edge Of A Dream’). While some listeners may be a little disappointed that the band didn’t delve a little more into their back catalogue for what was billed as a celebration of the tenth anniversary, I can understand the band decision not to cover too much of the same ground they covered on ‘Live Premonition’, and deliver something new from fans.
But despite the inclusion of a lot of new material, the band does go back in time a little, with the powerful opener ‘Head Up High’, ‘Mercenary Man’ and the band’s cover of Michael Sembello’s hit ‘Maniac’ representing 2008’s ‘The Premonition’, and ‘Allegiance’ and ‘Falling To Pieces’ lifted from 2006’s ‘Allegiance’. In fact, the only track to pre-date 2006 is ‘Between Heaven And Hell’, which is the title track from their 2002 debut. And while it’s a great track, it’s a shame that a different track wasn’t considered for this release considering that this song was also included on their previous live album.
Outside of the actual songs themselves, Gus G. gets a brief solo spot on the album, as to does Katsionis (Although his keyboard solo is nothing more than an introduction to ‘Edge Of A Dream’).
Overall, ‘Apotheosis – Live 2012’ is a solid live release, and a worthy representation of just how far the band has come in five years as a live act. Personally, a live D.V.D. would have been a far more appealing option, but as Gus G. has stated in recent times, it’s about quality over quantity. And there’s no arguing with the guitarist about that, because while ‘Apotheosis - Live 2012’ may lack in depth and length, it certainly more than makes up for it in quality.

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© Justin Donnelly

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