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FIREWIND, Dear Superstar, Kiuas
London Scala, 25 September 2008

Being half way through the process of revising for this year's university exams, I was desperately in need of a small break - one that would enable me to release some energy and perhaps charge my batteries, so when my colleagues asked me whether I would be interested in reviewing a Firewind gig I was more than happy to accept.

The Greek metalheads have managed to raise their value in the music business quite high recently, with the release of their fifth full-length album "The Premonition", receiving some really positive reviews, so it was almost understandable how the gig that took place on the 25th of September ended up leaving both the crowd and the three participating bands with an obvious sense of satisfaction after the lights went out.

The first opening act of the night was the Manchester-based outfit Dear Superstar, and I have to say that it has been since the early days of the Stone Gods that I have to come across such a diverse band!

If you can imagine a post-hardcore outfit with a strong affection for bands such as Guns n' Roses and Motley Crue, you are still slightly far from describing these five lads and I have to admit that I was quite intrigued to find out whether they would be able to attract the attention of Firewind's loyal Power Metal crowd.

The pit was relatively empty when these lads hit the stage, but before the end of their short set they had somehow managed to attract the attention and the applause of the few people that were willing to spend their time on something 'slightly different'.

Next on stage were the Finnish Power/Folk metal quintet Kiuas - a band that was greeted with sheer joy by a large proportion of the crowd - testimony that the venue was hosting a varied crowd that night.

Following the release of their latest album "The New Dark Age", the five Finns were more than happy to perform anthems such as "Conqueror" and the same-titled composition, both of which impressed with their groove and melody.

Further proof that this is 'not yet another Folk Metal band' came from the presentation of songs, such as "The Spirit of Ukko"and "Of Ancient Wounds", not only enabling the band to display material from all three albums, but also leaving me with the hope of seeing them headlining a London venue soon.

Firewind is a band that I have grown to respect quite a lot over the years, not only due to the undoubtable talent of guitarist Gus G, but also because of the great energy they bring to their live performances and this was not an exception.

Last time I saw the band, though, which was a couple of years ago at the London Underworld, the band's frontman was not Apollo Papathanassiou, but the quite charismatic Chitral Somapala. Chitral was indeed a great addition to the band, so I was naturally uncertain as to whether Apollo would manage to match his skill. A few minutes into the set, however, any doubts I was harbouring were dispelled.

The band was as tight as ever and fans responded with much excitement, not only in the opening "Into The Fire", but also in compositions such as "Head Up High" and "The Silent Code".

One thing I always admired about Gus G is the fact that he manages to impress with his guitar skills without becoming tiring or annoying (unlike Yngwie Malmsteen) and yesterday's show proved once again why this young musician deserves all the praise that he can get.

I believe I got so hooked on what was going on the stage that I was somehow shocked when I realised that "Till The End of Time" was to be the last song of the band's main set, although they did come back on stage for a three song encore minutes later.

If you were part of the crowd that enjoyed this unusual bill on the evening of the 25th of September, you will probably agree with me that this was a show that was definitely worth attending.

Review by John Stefanis

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