I’ve long been of the belief that a jazz-metal team up of Gus and Kenny G – called G-Force, natch – would be the earthshaking collaboration the world needs right now, but as the years pass and the likelihood of such a congruence becomes less and less, even in the fevered Strickmann mind, where anything is possible after a few lagers, the appearance of a new album from the first of those remarkable Gees, Gus, is cause for celebration enough.
After a few false starts, and the fact that you need to realise that the album takes a little time to get into it’s stride, Stand United really does come into it’s own after five or six listens. It’s not the most immediate Gus G for the most part; the first half of the album is filled with succinct, if well-executed, power metal fluff; but from track six, the powerful Fallen Angel onwards, our hero, in tandem with erstwhile warbling compadre Herbie Langhans, turns in some of the best material we’ve heard from him in a while.
There’s not a song on the record that makes it to the five minute mark, and whilst this comparative brevity does add a sense of urgency to proceedings, just sometimes you feel that some of the songs would become absolute monsters if they were allowed to develop a bit further. This is especially true of the final track, Days of Grace, which really sets the pulse racing with it’s Dio-era Sabbath opening and looks set to become a stadium-devouring epic but is reigned in before it gets it’s chance to become a giant. It’s still a great song, make no mistake, and it features Gus’ best solo work on the album, but it does still leave the listener wanting just a little bit more…
Langhans, as usual, delivers solid support, with his work on the surprise cover version, a welcome reworking of the Romantics‘ radio hit Talking In Your Sleep, being another highlight to add to his impressive showreel. These men are consummate professionals, and neither really puts a foot wrong throughout, even on the less compelling material.
Chains is another latter-day Firewind classic in waiting, and, if there isn’t really a lot of truly incendiary material on offer here, there’s enough of the good stuff to warrant further investigation if you’ve ever held the affable Greek stringsmith in high regard.
Stand United releases on March 1st.