Before I tell you exactly how brilliant (and insane) the new FIREWING album is, it's essential to address the Brazilian band's name. Is this a taste of things to come? Will future bands simply change one letter from another band's name and hope that nobody notices? You don't have to be a member of FIREWIND to ask the question, at least. And what next? Exciting new music from Block Sabbath, Nightwash and Limb Of God? The heavy metal mind boggles.
But I digress for comic effect. The truth about "Resurrection" is that all cynicism dissolves within a few seconds of opener "Obscure Minds". This is flat-out and faithful power metal, with a generous helping of symphonic elements and a vocalist — Airton Araujo — whose gritty tones could easily strip wallpaper from a distance. On the surface, FIREWING are a traditionally minded band with an obvious debt to the European power metal scene and just enough of their own personality to stand apart. What doesn't come across immediately is exactly how inventive and, to put it mildly, bonkers this band are.
"Resurrection" is a concept album of sorts, with a convoluted and largely unfathomable backstory that doesn't need repeating here, but it's also a deeply bizarre and proggy affair, with countless neck-snapping detours and about-turns into a darker and less brightly accessible realm. Because as powerful and uplifting as these songs' core melodies are, almost without exception, there is a density and complexity to FIREWING's sound that reveals more and more layers of intrigue with every listen. You may even hear shades of arch technocrats like WATCHTOWER and CORONER lurking in the album's more bewildering moments, as these avowed students of metal melody subvert their own formula with a gleeful flourish.
With its songs linked together with a number of eerie and atmospheric interludes, "Resurrection" is a beautifully paced piece of work. It's also rich with dynamics and moments of elegant restraint, despite the overpowering bluster on display for most of its duration. When they do take their collective paws off the accelerator for a straightforward, mid-paced ballad like "Far In Time", it feels more exception than the norm, as if FIREWING are simply pointing out that they can do delicate and simple too. Similarly, the sumptuous and unashamedly melodramatic "Time Machine" is a gargantuan AOR monolith, replete with a Jim Steinman-worthy (RIP) final crescendo and coda.
On the barking-mad flipside of FIREWING's melodic rock tendencies lies their obvious kinship with old-school prog metal, which erupts on "Tales Of Ember & Vishap: The Meaning Of Life". The song's an electrifying slice of MAIDEN meets MEKONG DELTA showboating, with a genuinely astonishing vocal from Araujo.
As with most metal subgenres, power metal is overpopulated with bands content to tick a few boxes and go on their merry way. Whether FIREWING's name is a slightly confusing stumbling block remains to be seen (it might just be me being a pedant, after all), but "Resurrection" is a brilliantly idiosyncratic breath of fresh air, with enormous tunes to spare.