4 out of 5 Stars!
To me, apart from the less-than-stellar debut album in 1998, Firewind has been one of the most enjoyable and memorable Heavy Metal/Power Metal acts to have emerged in the past few decades, with not only ultra-heavy riffs, shredding solos, and thundering rhythms on each of its albums from 2002 onward, but also numerous catchy melodies and some of the finest and most powerful lead vocalists in the genre, whichever singer is at the forefront (the band has had several throughout the years).
On Burning Earth, the band’s third studio release, Graham Bonnet-soundalike Stephen Fredrick (Kenziner) once again tackles the vocals and, on tracks such as “I Am the Anger,” “We Have Survived,” “Immortal Lives Young,” “Brother’s Keeper,” and the dynamic “The Longest Day,” proves his mighty worth. Additionally, group founder and long-time guitarist Gus G. (Dream Evil/Mystic Prophecy) shows his considerable six-string skills, offering killer riffs and blazing solos throughout, especially on the wild instrumental “The Fire & the Fury” and “Still the Winds,” a dreamy bonus track guitar showcase, while also adding a few keyboard washes on several tracks to beef up the sound. Meanwhile, the band’s rhythm section of bassist Petros Christo (Breaking Silence) and drummer Stian Kristoffersen (Pagan’s Mind/Trivial Act) construct a solid backdrop in a variety of tempos, several of them (such as on “Steal the Blind,” “Waiting Still,” and “Burning Earth”) fast and furious and storming.
Unfortunately, this would be Fredrick’s final album with the group. Initially I had worried that the band’s sound would change, like it often does with the replacement of a singer, but thankfully the band hired another underrated powerhouse vocalist (Chity Somapala) for its next release (Forged by Fire), thus maintaining Firewind’s fierce momentum in a lengthy string of high-quality Power Metal releases that stretched into the current decade.