GUS G – FEARLESS
Everyone in the rock and metal world knows Gus G, aka Konstantinos Karamitroudis, aka the most famous session music in heavy music. Beginning his career in the late Nineties - having started at Berklee College of Music but finding it unsuitable after a few weeks - he joined the local rock scene and immediately began making a name for himself as a talented guitarist. He started up his own band, Firewind, soon after, and they began churning out reliably excellent albums almost immediately. And guesting? Well. His list of guest slots reads like a ‘who’s who’ of rock and metal, including the likes of Nightrage, Dream Evil, Mystic Prophecy, Arch Enemy, Rotting Christ, Doro Pesch, Kamelot and In This Moment – not to mention ‘the big one’, of course: his nine year tenure with Ozzy Osborne, which only recently came to an end with the reinstatement of Osborne’s previous axeman Zakk Wylde for a farewell tour.
Fearless, released on April 20th via AFM Records, is Gus’ third full length solo album, following 2014’s I Am the Fire and 2015’s Brand New Revolution. This time, he’s teamed up with vocalist/bassist Dennis Ward (Pink Cream 69/Unisonic) and drummer Will Hunt (Evanescence/Black Label Society) to produce an album rich in both old school hard rock and innovative modern metal; a difficult and narrow path to tread, but one that Gus has mastered throughout his years as a virtuoso guitarist. Opening track ‘Letting Go’ is a perfect example: with an Eighties vibe that’s reminiscent of Dokken or Kingdom Come, it also packs a hell of a modern punch guitar-wise, particularly in the (naturally) blazing solo.
Knowing Gus’ influences include the likes of Peter Frampton and Gary Moore, it’s unsurprising that a few tracks have a strong blues influence, such as the sexy, gritty ‘Big City’ and the catchy ‘Mr Manson’, which – somewhat ironically – has something of a ‘Mr Crowley’ vibe. Several tracks also incorporate the hard rock of yesteryear, such as album closer ‘Last of My Kind’, which features Ward’s best vocal performance of the album, and the slinky, grinding ‘Chances’.
At times, the album has a bit of an ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ thing going on; from covers (a slowed-down, lower-keyed ‘Money For Nothing’), proper power ballads (‘Nothing to Say’, with its soulful, clean guitar tone, heartfelt lyrics and windswept, ‘helicopter shot of the guitarist on a mountain’ solo), and heavy metal (the sharp and persistent ‘Don’t tread on Me’) all jostling for space. And of course, there’s a few instrumentals in there too, pleasing Gus’ purist fans and showcasing his dazzling ability to perfection; the breathless and thrilling title track is a particular highlight.
Essentially, Fearless is exactly what one would expect from the immensely talented and personable Gus G. The guitar work is jaw-droppingly good, especially when you consider that Gus was largely self-taught (barring some lessons as a youngster and those abortive few weeks at Berklee). He has expertly chosen a vocalist whose voice matches his musical style perfectly; Ward has a pleasingly husky, hard rock-ready voice, reminiscent of Sammy Hagar at times, that Gus’ guitar work can weave through beautifully. The production is immaculate, the songs terrifically crafted – and if you’re looking for an album with some seriously outstanding solos, you’ve found it. In short, with this album, Gus G has further cemented his own identity, and his place within the upper echelons of Heavy music.
Review by Melanie Brehaut
01. Letting Go
02. Mr Manson
03. Don´t Tread On Me
05. Nothing To Say
06. Money For Nothing
08. Thrill Of The Chase
09. Big City
10. Last Of My Kind
Bonus tracks on Digipak/Vinyl:
11. Little Ain´t Enough
Gus G. (Guitar), Dennis Ward (Vocals/Bass), Will Hunt (Drums)