Gus G, guitarist extraordinaire for both OZZY and his own band FIREWIND has unveiled his debut solo album for Century Media Records in I Am the Fire, out March 18 and sporting a veritable who’s who of guest stars. Billy Sheehan, DEVOUR THE DAY, David Ellefson, Jeff Scott Soto, Alexia Rodriguez from labelmates EYES SET TO KILL, and more. Swedish vocalist Mats Levén handles four of the album’s tracks, and for the most part they’re winners, as is pretty much the whole record, honestly.
With rapier-like precision Gus starts us off with “My Will Be Done” the first Levén track and a strong opening statement. It shows that this is a ballsy guitar album so you’d better strap in. The solo is intense, and the riff of “Blame It On Me” manages to be as sharp as it is contagious. Plus, you all know I love my drivin’ songs and this is certainly one of them. I am also a big DEVOUR THE DAY fan, especially after seeing them live last year and this pairing on title track “I Am the Fire” is pure gold, Blake Allison infusing just the right amount of attitude and “Fuck You” into it.
The first instrumental is the track featuring Ellefson called “Vengeance” and this sucker just GOES from start to finish. This is one of those Mini-Amps songs that he went bonkers to a few minutes ago while reaching for the REPEAT button. Actually this and “Long Way Down” featuring Alexia Rodriguez were two of my favorites too. After seeing/hearing her live last week I am a convert for life and this song is tailor-made for her voice and wouldn’t be out of place on an EYES SET TO KILL record, quite frankly. Another killer song is “Just Can’t Let Go” with Jacob Bunton from LYNAM. Catchy without being cheesy it’s raw and emotional with a biting guitar line.
Instrumental number two, “Terrified”, is the one with Sheehan. One of the album’s heavier tracks, shred is in no short supply here, Gus and Billy locked in from the beginning. Mats Levén returns for “Eyes Wide Open” and to be honest, this one’s kind of a drag. It’s OK musically but it kind of lumbers along and just didn’t wow me. We get back to business though on “Redemption” featuring none other than STEEL PANTHER’S Michael Starr. This is another hard-charging number with a classic metal feel from days of yore. Mr. Soto makes his appearance for “Summer Days”, yet another uptempo track that goes easy on the verses and heavier on the hooks which is a nice blend.
“Dreamkeeper” with Tom S. Englund of EVERGREY slows things down for a few moments and relaxes the pace before Mats and Gus take us home with “End of the Line”, a song that also starts out softer then unloads at the halfway mark with a blistering solo, making for a fitting closer. All told, Gus G has delivered one hell of a record his first time out in I Am the Fire. Can’t wait to see what he’s got up his sleeves next.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Vengeance”, “Blame It On Me”, “I Am the Fire”, “Long Way Down”, “My Will Be Done”, “Terrified”