Days of Defiance

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The sixth album by Greek power metal outfit Firewind (now destined to achieve a much higher stateside profile, given that lead guitarist/founder Gus G. has been hired as Zakk Wylde's replacement by Ozzy Osbourne) is not radically different from their previous work. It's a blistering dose of European power metal, loaded with clumsy lyrics, cheesy keyboards, anthemic/operatic melodies, and tons of wild guitar shredding. The songs are occasionally kinda boneheaded -- once you read the title, you know what the chorus is gonna be ("Cold as Ice") -- and vocalist Apollo Papathanasio is somewhat generic, with no staggering high notes to call his own, but Gus G. is a ferociously talented guitarist who rips into one fleet, screaming solo after another, and his bandmates (keyboardist and second guitarist Bob Katsionis, bassist Petro Christodoylidis, and new drummer Michael Ehré) more than keep pace with him, particularly on the awesome prog-metal instrumental "SKG." Power metal has never been particularly big in America, but Gus G.'s membership in Ozzy's band may well bring Firewind to new audiences, and that would be a good thing -- this is a really solid, entertaining album played with tremendous talent and skill.

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