Gus G is well known throughout the metal industry for being the driving force behind Greece’s finest musical export Firewind and of course for famously being hand picked back in 2009 to replace Zakk Wylde in Ozzy Osborne’s solo band. Needless to say, he has impressed the world with his phenomenal ability to shred, in a career which has spanned the last two decades. Finally though, 2014 has seen the release of Gus G’s debut solo album, ‘I Am The Fire’ and he’s raided his address book, the album includes whole host of guest artists featured across the twelve track offering.
Over the years, Gus G has played guitar for a variety of different acts so there was always going to be the suggestion that this solo album would have a rather diverse feel to it. After seeing Mats Leven (Candlemass vocalist), Michael Starr (Steel Panter vocalist) and David Ellefson (Megadeth bassist) to name but three appearing on the tracklist, this almost seemed like confirmation enough of this before even the first listening.
Mats Leven appears on four songs across the album, which has resulted in I Am The Fire opening and closing with tracks featuring his vocals. It’s a strong effort from Leven and although I can’t help feel his voice doesn’t quite have the same epic punch as some of his previous work, there is no denying he’s a talented guy and it’s clear he works incredibly well with Gus G. After listening to the album I wouldn’t say no to watching an evening of live collaboration between these two. The title track from the album is for me, one of the highlights of the record and definitely the catchiest track from it. ‘I Am The Fire’ features American hard-rockers Devour The Day and is an instant money-maker. Its catchy chorus almost guarantees this will be the one you go away singing for days after hearing the record and it’s the one you can imagine being continuously played on the music TV channels and radio stations. Another highlight comes from the penultimate track, ‘Dreamkeeper’ featuring Tom S Englund (Evergrey vocalist). It’s a wonderful track which merges Englund’s beautiful and emotive vocals with acoustic guitars and one of the strongest and most moving solos from Gus G on the album. Mentions need to also be given to ‘Long Way Down’ featuring Alexia Rodriguez (Vocalist from Eyes Set To Kill) and ‘Just Can’t Let Go’ featuring Jacob Bunton (vocalist from Adler). Both tracks feature some beautiful vocals and really serve to confirm Gus G’s abilities to write tracks for a range of different artists and styles.
As well as appearances from this wide variety of vocalists, the album also features two instrumental tracks. The first, ‘Vengeance’ sees an appearance from David Ellefson and as the name would suggest is an aggressive, uptempo collaboration which displays the supreme talent of both of these leading musicians. The second is ‘Terrified’, featuring Billy Sheehan, legendary bassist best known for being part of American rock band, Mr Big. This track is full of technical mastership and is another winning musical partnership.
It goes without saying that I Am The Fire has been a long time coming. It’s not an album which is going to change the world, but it is an album which displays a range of talent across the industry, while proving once again that Gus G is on top of his game right now. Much like Slash’s 2010 solo album, I expect there will be a fair amount of hype around this release for the next few months or so, but then we will all carry on with our lives and begin to forget which, considering the musicianship and songwriting which has gone into this album, I think will be a real shame.