Forged by Fire

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If jazz can have its Young Lions -- hard bop and post-bop improvisers who came along in the '80s, '90s, or 2000s but faithfully adhere to the straight-ahead jazz of the '40s, '50s, and '60s -- there is no reason why metal shouldn't have its neo-classicist movement. And in fact, metal does have such a movement: the power metal revival movement. Just as the Young Lions of jazz worship at the alter of Clifford Brown, Sonny Stitt, and Art Blakey's long list of Jazz Messengers, the power metal revival bands that emerged in the '90s and 2000s have their own golden era to worship -- and that era is the '70s (when power metal got started) and '80s (when power metal became even more plentiful). Firewind's Forged by Fire is a 2004 recording that worships the '70s and '80s (especially the '80s) without apology, drawing on classic influences like Ronnie James Dio, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and Queensr├┐che. Totally oblivious to alternative metal, rap-metal, death metal/black metal, and metalcore, Forged by Fire has all of the familiar power metal elements -- larger than life lyrics, a very big sound, and bright, shiny guitars (as opposed to the downtuned, chugging guitars one expects from alternative metal). The material on this CD is loud, forceful, and aggressive, but it is also melodic and highly musical -- and while Firewind's grandiose songs aren't the least bit groundbreaking, they are well crafted and thoroughly enjoyable. Bottom line: die-hard power metal enthusiasts who still can't get enough of Dio's Holy Diver, Queensr├┐che's Operation: Mindcrime, and Iron Maiden's The Number of the Beast will find Forged by Fire to be a derivative but rewarding contribution to the power metal revival movement.

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