Review: Gus G. – Fearless
AFM Records (April 2018)
Reviewer: Simone – The Metal Mistress
What happens when Michael Schenker and Steve Vai have a love child? You get supremely talented, melodic, riff heavy guitarist, Gus G. I have been a fan of Gus for a long time, especially enjoying him when he toured with Ozzy. His band Firewind has been around for 20 years, and is one of those unsung metal bands only known to non-mainstream fans and are a definite must-see if they play near you. Now, once again, he outdoes himself, giving us the album ‘Fearless‘ featuring three super talented musicians playing together. Dennis Ward of Pink Cream 69 and drummer William Hunt of Black Label Society collaborate with Gus to create a non-stop hard-hitting rock album.
The album starts off with what we expect from Gus G. – a powerful guitar segment in ‘Letting Go‘ Here we first get to hear Dennis’s vocals. Known more as a bassist and producer, at my first listen this was definitely not what I expected. It took me a moment to appreciate Dennis’ vocals. While his range is not wide, he has a solid, strong voice that works tremendously with Gus’s strong guitar and William’s kick ass drums. It does not get lost among the music as it so easily could with a less clear and strong singer. One thing I like about Dennis’s vocals is he modulates with each song’s composition unlike other hard rock singers who always sing with the same tone, and punch on every song.
Getting us settled into the deep riffs that we will see throughout the album, ‘Letting Go‘ and ‘Mr. Manson‘ set the tone for ‘Fearless‘, however do not be lulled into thinking all tracks will be the same. ‘Don’t Tread On Me‘ has what I consider the best solo riff by Gus on the album. If you want to truly hear his talent listen to this melodic number. The title track ‘Fearless‘ takes us in a different direction entirely having a Flamenco-style staccato of a guitar opening. This number above all the rest, reminded me of Joe Satriani – long, melodic, crying melodies that led into killer speed riffs.
I love the ‘Money For Nothing‘ cover. It is such a sleeper song- making us reminisce and think it is going to sound like the original. The abrupt change from the familiar sounds of the original playing in our memory to the hard crunch and searing new solos makes you wake up and say WTF. Then Dennis’s vocals whack you over the head. If I was a bit unsure about his vocals in the beginning, this number lets me know I am an idiot. The minor lyric changes are also a clever revision with a touch more relevancy to today’s crowds.
Gus makes sure we get a few instrumentals for his long-standing fans. ‘Thrill of the Chase‘ delivers. I especially like William’s drums on this number. They do not get drowned out by the powerful guitar, but keep stride throughout the song along side it. ‘Big City‘ was a bit unusual to me – delivering a bit of Southern rock, bluesy vibe in the base chords that make up the root of the song. It turned into what I would consider a typical 80s hard rock song with a short solo by Gus in the middle. ‘Last Of My Kind‘ is a great close out to the album, bringing everything to a huge blow out of all three melding together for one final “let’s show you how much ass we can kick” song.
As usual we are treated to Gus’s intricate guitar solos in each song. He makes sure his fans get enough to satisfy while keeping the entire album balanced between each musician. This trio’s talents compliment each other and never overpower each other. This album is one I would pop on during a long road trip to get the juices flowing again. It keeps your energy high and delivers on a good, constant rhythm. From first song to last, it keeps your attention. Just remember to set the speed control to keep the speeding tickets at bay!
‘Fearless‘ is a well-produced, fluid album from 3 killer talents working together to give us what we expect from them – kick ass hard rock with enough variety to keep us listening from track 1 to 10.