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Gus G. - "I Am The Fire" (CD)

Gus G. - "I Am The Fire" CD cover image

"I Am The Fire" track listing:

1. My Will Be Done (featuring Mats Levén)
2. Blame It On Me (featuring Mats Levén)
3. I Am The Fire (featuring Blake Allison)
4. Vengeance (featuring David Ellefson)
5. Long Way Down (featuring Alexia Rodriguez)
6. Just Can’t Let Go (featuring Jacob Bunton)
7. Terrified (featuring Billy Sheehan)
8. Eyes Wide Open (featuring Mats Levén)
9. Redemption (featuring Michael Starr)
10. Summer Days (featuring Jeff Scott Soto)
11. Dreamkeeper (featuring Tom S. Englund)
12. End of the Line (featuring Mats Levén)

Reviewed by on August 26, 2014

"Positioning himself as a superb adaptor of sound to whatever framework he's given, Gus G.'s statement with this record is a true 'fuck you' to the masses of lukewarm look-ma!-no-actual-songs! shredders out there."

Greek guitarist Gus G. has planted his feet firmly in heavy metal by working his way up to playing guitar for the legendary Ozzy Osbourne, with stints in Arch Enemy, Nightrage, Firewind, Mystic Prophecy, and Dream Evil, all since just 2001. Such an impressive uprising in the heavy metal world, especially for such a shredding guitarist, is rarely seen, given the multitude of technically competent players in the scene now. What separates Gus G., as evident by the songs on his first solo album "I Am The Fire," is his sense of song craftsmanship and taste.

Preferring to take the high road of actual sound song construction as the basis for his shredding, Gus G. makes his way above the crowd of other shredders by including vocals. Hooky song construction and balanced riffs make songs like "Eyes Wide Open," "My Will Be Done," "Blame It On Me," and "I Am The Fire" really stick out upon the first listen. Songs like "Long Way Down," "Just Can't Let Go," "End of the Line," and "Summer Days" start out acoustically and unfurl as they go, giving a glimpse of the dynamics that Gus G. commands as well. Curiously, because an album of balanced songs doesn't need guest musicians to pique the interest of listeners, guest musicians and singers nevertheless pepper the songs.

Singers include Candlemass vocalist Mats Leven, Devour The Day's Blake Allison, Steel Panther's Michael Starr, Jeff Scott Soto, Evergrey's Tom Englund, and Eyes Set To Kill's Alexia Rodriguez, with Leven fronting the majority of the songs. Well-suited for their individual songs with the exception of Allison, who seems a bit too little-punky for such a strong track, the vocalists end up packing a punch with the additional elements they bring. Guest musicians include David Ellefson of Megadeth, Billy Shehan of The Winery Dogs, Marty O'Brien of Disturbed/Tommy Lee, drummer Jeff Friedl of A Perfect Circle/Puscifer, and drummer Daniel Erlandsson from Arch Enemy.

The whole album is given a distinct classic rock nod by the talented mixing engineer Jay Ruston, whose previous work on The Winery Dogs' first album turned out wonderfully warm. Positioning himself as a superb adaptor of sound to whatever framework he's given, Gus G.'s statement with this record is a true "fuck you" to the masses of lukewarm look-ma!-no-actual-songs! shredders out there: "I am the fire - It's out of your hands, it's out of your reach if you can't understand what I am!"

Highs: The actual songwriting is paramount on the record.

Lows: One vocalist would've been fine. Blake Allison wasn't needed.

Bottom line: A noteworthy super shredder who actually writes GOOD SONGS? WHAT?!

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)