‘Αποθέωση’ (‘apotheosis’) is a Greek word meaning “to elevate someone or something to the rank of a deity”. In art it denotes something particularly grand, so it’s apt that it’s also the title of Hellenic metallers Firewind’s upcoming record, Apotheosis – Live 2012. The title was chosen by the band’s founder and distinguished guitarist Gus G, who thought the word particularly defined the sentiment of Firewind’s 10-year anniversary shows throughout their homeland in December last year. It’s also a nod to Firewind fans, credited with keeping the band going despite being the “few against many” – the title of Firewind’s 2012 studio album – in the music business for a decade.
‘Apotheosis’ is also a befitting term for Firewind, and Gus G, in general. The charismatic virtuoso was hand-picked by the Godfather of Heavy Metal Ozzy Osbourne to replace Zakk Wylde in 2009. Despite having been elevated to guitar-god status as the Black Sabbath legend’s lead guitarist, Gus G has remained humble, dedicated to Firewind and loyal to his country, in which he still resides. Today, Firewind are superstars in their native Greece, a country where even listening to heavy metal was once considered social poison.
Few Against Many went straight to number one in Greece: the first time a heavy metal album had achieved such a feat. For multi-talented musician Bob Katsionis, who plays both keyboards and guitar for Firewind, it was vindication. “It felt like justice for me,” Katsionis says. “It was the first time ever that a metal band from Greece topped the charts having not compromised on their music, and without having to go on prime-time television or anything as such. But most important for me was that it would serve as a great example for other bands and musicians to follow, proving that if they really want something and work for it, they can achieve it, even in a country where metal music isn’t popular, like in Greece.”
Few Against Many EPK
For Katsionis, playing Firewind’s 10th anniversary shows in Athens and Thessaloniki was a heightened emotional experience. “It was definitely the best moments I have had with Firewind since I first joined the band, especially the two hometown gigs in Athens. Having all my friends, relatives, and even students and people I know getting involved in a wild party with me playing for them was simply amazing. Our fans are crazy!” he says. “Apotheosis – Live 2012 is an album we are really proud of and also serves as a cool compilation of Firewind songs, performed with craziness and also maturity, throughout the years.”
Apotheosis – Live 2012 features 17 tracks performed during Firewind’s 10th anniversary shows as well as their 2012 European tour. It boasts high-powered hits Head Up High and Wall of Sound, the subliminal Edge of a Dream and guitar instrumentals including SKG. Deciding which songs would make the final track list was not an easy task however, and Gus G was adamant in opting for quality over quantity. “It was a bit of a stressful process,” Gus recalls, “because we had many shows recorded and had to go through lots of tapes. In the end we chose the best performances. It could have been a double live album but in the end we chose the best 17 tracks (19 for the digital version),” he says.
Gus G is known for his friendly countenance towards his fans that he frequently interacts with on social media and he decided to put together exclusive bundles for pre-order of the live record after seeking their advice. “I think the fans have turned their interest a lot more to bundles and special packages over the last few years,” he says. “The first time we offered a bundle through our web store was with Few Against Many and those were all sold out in a few days!”
“This time we wanted to make the packages even more special, and asked our fans on Facebook and Twitter what kind of items they would like. Most of them asked for a necklace with our symbol, so we gave them that, along with options of a T-shirt, guitar pick, and the signed limited Digipak, of course. It’s a great feeling to offer something special to the people that support you, especially after having listened to their thoughts and desires,” he says.
Apotheosis – Live 2012 Official Album Trailer
After seven studio albums in only 10 years, Firewind will be taking a well-deserved break before writing an eighth, and Gus G will use the time away to continue to work on his highly anticipated solo album. It will incorporate both instrumental compositions as well as songs that feature vocals from guest artists and will have a more rock ‘n’ roll vibe compared to his music with Firewind. “That’s my next project, my first solo album,” he says. “I’m excited to do something different.”
Katsionis will also be focusing on musical projects outside of Firewind: “It’s already scheduled,” he says of his free time, “my other band, Outloud, are recording their third full album with the mighty George Kollias of Nile on drums and the material is simply killer! I’m also working hard on my next solo album, which is going to be mostly compositions based on piano. It will be really interesting and different and I’m sure my fans are going to appreciate it,” he says.
Australian fans of Firewind would be well aware that the Greek metallers were set to tour our shores this past April after a long awaited first tour was announced in October 2012. It was cancelled a month later and was, according to Gus G, due to an issue with the tour promoters. “We found out they were not legit and decided to reschedule,” he explains. “Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to find a promoter who’s serious enough to bring Firewind to Australia, but we believe that we’ll head over there sooner or later, it’s only a matter of time before it happens. Of course, the band wants to play in Australia – it’s a top priority destination for us.”
With Australia boasting such a large Greek population – Melbourne being the world’s third largest city after Athens and Thessaloniki in terms of Greek population density – it is not surprising that both Gus G and Katsionis have family and friends who reside Down Under. “Of course, I do have some relatives there but it’s been a lot of years since we last spoke. I hope they come and watch us when we play there. I wish that Firewind will visit your wonderful country soon and I can’t wait to meet my first kangaroo!” Katsionis says.
“I actually have some family friends in Melbourne,” says Gus G. “We all have someone there it seems! I’ve never been to Australia and I really want to go; it’s one of my yet-unfulfilled dreams.”
“I want to thank all our supporters and fans Down Under for their love and their patience all this time,” Gus G adds. “I promise we’ll do our best to get our asses over there and play for you! In the meantime, be sure to check out our new live album Apotheosis – and play it loud!”
‘Apotheosis – Live 2012’ will be released Friday, 21st June and is available to pre-order in exclusive bundles here
Firewind – Wall Of Sound