Gus G. has spent the past decade quietly affirming his place as one of metal’s reigning guitar virtuosos. He has recorded more than a dozen studio albums, performed around the world as a member of acts ranging from Arch Enemy and Dream Evil to his own band Firewind, and has been Ozzy Osbourne’s guitarist since being personally handpicked by the heavy metal legend in August 2009. Now, with the release of his first-ever solo album ‘I Am The Fire’ on Century Media Records, the fleet-fingered Greek fret-shredder will embark on the next chapter of his history-shaping career.
Now, although this lover of light and fluffy AOR has VERY suddenly started having a much more metallic/proggy edge to my taste, the thought of another virtuoso, heavy metal guitar shred fest solo album filled me with, to be honest, total dread. Even as a guitarist, those albums of guitar w4_kery leave me stone cold. Not through jealousy (I would LOVE to be able to some of that stuff) rather that it tends to be, well, boring! So I wasn’t totally looking forward to this and so I right this as I am taking only my second listen. Perhaps the first shock is that this is a record with proper songs … you know the ones, with lyrics and a singer! Yes there are instrumentals (obviously!) but the first isn’t until track 4! Featuring a number of guest vocalists had the potential to create a messy feel to the record, however the threads that bind the whole thing together are clearly the quality of playing and the writing. Nothing seems out of place and the whole project is extremely well thought out. I particularly love the track featuring Michael Starr ….. surely this guy’s voice has to be taken seriously by ALL the critics?
That doesn’t mean that guitar solos are in short supply – quite the contrary, they’re plentiful throughout the 12 tracks that comprise ‘I Am The Fire’. Also plentiful is the roster of friends that help bring Gus G.’s vision to fruition. The aforementioned instrumentals “Vengeance” and “Terrified” feature guest bassists Dave Ellefson [Megadeth] and Billy Sheehan [David Lee Roth, Mr. Big], while the rest of the album features either Gus or Marty O’Brien [Tommy Lee, We Are The Fallen] holding down the bottom end alongside main drummer Jeff Friedl [A Perfect Circle, Puscifer, Devo] and Daniel Erlandsson [Arch Enemy], who guests on the two instrumental tracks.
Vocal guests include Devour The Day singer Blake Allison (“I Am The Fire”), Steel Panther’s Michael Starr (“Redemption”), Eyes Set To Kill’s Alexia Rodriguez (“Long Way Down”), former Journey frontman and current Trans-Siberian Orchesta vocalist Jeff Scott Soto (“Summer Days”), Evergrey frontman Tom S. Englund (“Dreamkeeper”), Adler frontman Jacob Bunton (“Just Can’t Let Go”) and Yngwie Malmsteen/Therion alum and current Candlemass singer Mats Levén (“My Will Be Done”, “Blame It On Me”, “Eyes Wide Open” and “End Of The Line”) – and the results are as varied as the names suggest.
‘I Am The Fire’ was mixed by Jay Ruston [Anthrax, Stone Sour, Steel Panther], produced by Gus G., and recorded between Los Angeles and Gus’ home country of Greece through the latter half of 2013. ‘I Am The Fire’ serves as a whole new benchmark for Gus G.
“I already have an established band, so there’s no pressure on me as a solo artist,” he explains. “This is a whole different journey and a brand new adventure…”
In brief …. WOW!
GUS G. – “I Am The Fire” (46:46)
01. My Will Be Done (feat. Mats Levén) (3:15)
02. Blame It On Me (feat. Mats Levén) (3:23)
03. I Am The Fire (feat. Devour The Day) (3:14)
04. Vengeance (feat. David Ellefson) (4:26))
05. Long Way Down (feat. Alexia Rodriguez) (3:02)
06. Just Can’t Let Go (feat. Jacob Bunton) (4:00)
07. Terrified (feat. Billy Sheehan) (3:14)
08. Eyes Wide Open (feat. Mats Levèn) (4:18)
09. Redemption (feat. Michael Starr) (4:15)
10. Summer Days (feat. Jeff Scott Soto) (3:49)
11. Dreamkeeoer (feat. Tom S. Englund) (4:45)
12. End Of The Line (feat.Mats Levèn) (4:59)